Added April 14 2009. Last updated 26 March 2014: updated details and Bibliography.


Malagasy Big-Headed (Side-Necked) Turtle


This turtle is found in the lakes and rivers of western Madagascar, showing a preference for clear and clean water. It is consumed by Malagasys, which has obvious ramifications for the species long-term conservation. The animals are fairly omnivorous. See Henkel and Schmidt for husbandry suggestions: it should be noted that these turtles are intolerant of and aggressive towards one another. So far I have encountered very little information on them and Müller (1995) said that nothing was known of their keeping in captivity.

Until recently E. madagascariensis was considered part of the Podocnemis genus, and is listed as such by Müller, who states that nothing is known about the species' husbandry in the terrarium.

Species Name

Common Name





E. madagascariensis

Malagasy Big-Headed Turtle [D: Madagassische Schienenschildkröte]

W Madagascar

Avg 35cm? may reach 41cm.

This is the largest chelonian in Madagascar. Distinguished by large round head and nostrils which protrude somewhat from the tip of the snout. It is endangered by its use by locals as food. Carapace: lightly keeled, even in adults; edges not serrated. Plastron: gular shields meet in the middle behind the small intergular shield; suture between femoral shields is shorter than that between anal shields; no hinges. Other: feet are strongly webbed; 4 claws on feet; limbs and claws are powerful. Coloration: carapace is usually overall brown with no distinct patterning. Soft parts of the carapace are usually yellow. Reproduction: sexual maturity is reached in males at 23-28cm length, in females over 26cm.  Males has a slightly longer tail that is thicker at the base. The laying season mainly lasts from September to January (mostly October-November), but eggs may be laid throughout the year. Clutch size is 20-30 eggs, with up to 3 clutches per season (total of 60 eggs pers season) being laid. Juveniles are uniform dark brown with a roof-shaped carapace.


Schildkröten, Gerhard Müller, Eugen Ullmer, Stuttgart 1995.

Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar and the Mascarene, Seychelles, and Comoro Islands, Friedrich-Wilhelm Henkel and Wolfgang Schmidt, Krieger, Florida 2000.


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