Added April 14 2009.


Big-Headed (Amazon) River Turtle


Very large turtle characterised by large head and powerful jaws. It is mostly associated with black water, ie bodies of water darkened by tannins, but may also be found in whitewater habitats and forest pools. It is omnivorous, Bartlett and Bartlett noting an adult fondness for fallen ripe palm fruits which the turtles pick from the water's edge.

Müller suggested that the captive requirements for this turtle would not be dissimilar to those for Podocnemis species (in which genus it was once placed), but also that in view of its large size it would not be suitable for most terrarium keepers.

Species Name Common Name Location Size Notes
P. dumerilianus Big-Headed Amazon River Turtle [D: Dumeril-Schienschildkröte] Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru Avg 48cm? >2'/60cm. Meier reported that Podocnemis erythrocephala was often found with this species. Carapace: smooth and somewhat domed, keeled, especially on young animals but also in adults. Plastron: gular scutes fully separated by intergular scute; suture between femoral scutes is longer than that between the anal scutes. Other: feet are strongly webbed. Coloration: carapace varies from grey to black, plastron from grey or brown to yellow; top of head dark (grey to olive brown), sides of head may be lighter. Reproduction: clutch contains up to 25 eggs. Incubation lasts just over 3 months, hatchlings being about 2"/5cm long.   


Schildkröten, Gerhard Müller, Eugen Ullmer, Stuttgart 1995.

"Erfahrungen bei der Haltung von Schildkröten der Familie Podocnemidae einschließlich Gedanken über ihre Haltung und Nachzucht/Experiences with the Keeping of River Turtles of the Family Podocnemidae, with Considerations of their Husbandry and Propagation", Herbert Meier, Radiata 17:3, DGHT 2008. Article available in both English and German language versions listing details of author's experiences with captive breeding of P. erythrocephala, P. unifilis and P. vogli. P. dumerilianus is mentioned in passing.

Reptiles and Amphibians of the Amazon: an Ecotourist's Guide, R D Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett, University Press of Florida, 2003.


Back to Podocnemidae | Back to Chelonian Families | Back to Chelonians | Back to Reptiles | Back to Herps | Back to Home Page