"Asian Leaf Turtles"
(in order of size)

Geoemyda spengleri, also known as Vietnamese Wood Turtle, Black-breasted Leaf Turtle or Chinese Leaf Turtle, is a small turtle seldom exceeding 4.5 inches in straight carapace length. They are terrestrial, mountain forest creatures from Hainan Island and two other provinces of southern China, and northern Vietnam. Click here for information on natural history and captive care of Geoemyda spenglerii .

Mauremys (Annamemys) annamensis, Vietnamese Leaf Turtle, Annam Leaf Turtle, or Vietnamese Pond Turtle is a relatively small turtle, 6 - 7 inches. The carapace is uniformly dark colored, low arched and slightly depressed. It has at least one keel and no serrations. It is webbed-footed and lives in tropical, semi-aquatic conditions. It is omnivorous. It comes only from a small area in central Vietnam and is rarely seen in captivity.

Siebenrockiella Crassicollis, Borneo Black Leaf Turtle or Malaysian Black Mud Turtle can reach 8 inches. The carapace is black, keeled, and has rear serrations. The species is highly aquatic and highly carnivorous. It ranges through most of Southeast Asia. Click here for photos and care information.

Cyclemys tcheponensis , the Striped-necked Leaf Turtle, comes from Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea and Thailand. It is similar in appearance to C. dentata (below) but is a slightly smaller turtle, reaching approximately 8". There are four prominent stripes, of pink, orange or yellow, on each side of the head. Care will be very similar to C. dentata, except that C. tcheponensis can be expected to spend more time on land. It is also less likely to consume live foods and other meats, as this species tends to be highly herbivorous.

Cyclemys dentata is the species most often called "Asian Leaf Turtle." It appears in the pet trade fairly often and is being captive bred. It is a hardy pet. A medium sized turtle, it grows to 9". It is rather flat and shaped like a broad oval, nearly round. There is a single strong keel on the carapace. It is usually brown although other color variations exist. Posterior marginals of the carapace are strongly serrated in juveniles. The plastron usually features radiating lines. Plastron background color ranges from light tan to almost black. Adults form a single plastral hinge. C. dentata is webbed-footed and highly aquatic, especially as juveniles. Adults may spend more time on land and prefer an area with plants. These turtles require an aqua-vivarium, at least 50% water. This species is environmentally sensitive. Water must be filtered and kept scrupulously clean. Elevated levels of ammonia (from standing, dirty water) can cause a variety of serious illnesses. In the wilds, C. dentata inhabit streams in mountain forests, up to 3500' above sea level. They prefer cool water (68 - 74 degrees F.) and low light intensities, although they do occasionally bask. Youngsters usually prefer to eat in the water, while adults will readily eat on land. They are omnivorous. Click here for a picture.

Hieremys annandalii, the Yellow-headed Temple Turtle, is also sometimes called Asian Leaf Turtle. The rear marginals are slightly serrated and there is a notch at the tail marginals. Uniformly dark colored, young H. annandali have several cream or yellow stripes on their heads. This is a large turtle which can reach 23 - 24 inches. It is a tropical aquatic turtle which lives in swamps, ponds, rice paddies and slow moving rivers. The diet is herbivorous. These turtles require warm temperatures and (obviously) lots of room, such as an outdoor pond enclosure in a very warm climate. (Photo at the British Chelonia Group.)


Bartlett, R. D. & Bartlett, Patricia P. 1996. Turtles and Tortoises: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Barron's Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY.

Ernst, C. H. and Barbour, R. W. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Highfield, A. C. 1996. Practical Encyclopedia of Keeping and Breeding Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Carapace Press, London, England.

Iverson, John. 1992. A revised checklist with distribution maps of the turtles of the world. Privately published, Richmond, Indiana.
Asian leaf turtles Geoemyda spengleri Cyclemys dentata Cyclemys tcheponensis Asian leaf turtles asain leaf turtle

© Mary Hopson, Anchorage, AK
This information sheet may be freely copied and distributed.


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