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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Dark-bellied Leaf Terrapin

Fig 1

Fig 2


















Species : Cyclemys enigmatica
Maximum carapace length : 23.5 cm

Cyclemys enigmatica is one of 7 species of asian leaf turtle described by Fritz et al (2008).

In aged adults the carapace of this species is dark brown, sometimes with a reddish-brown tinge.  Underneath, the plastron is dark brown to blackish.  In younger adults dark radiating lines may be visible on both the carapace and plastron.

The top of the head is uniform light brown or copper in colour. There is an absence of stripes on the neck and head, a feature which occurs in many other species of asian leaf turtle.

The carapace is flat, strongly oval, and the rear margin is weakly serrated.

The specimen illustrated here is a large adult encountered in a slow-flowing, shallow, swampy forest stream on the island of Langkawi, Peninsular Malaysia on a hot afternoon. It was initially partly submerged at the edge of a shaded pool, but once disturbed it dived into deeper water beneath a fallen tree.

This terrapin is widespread - genetically verified specimens of the species have been confirmed from northern Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Borneo (Fritz et al, 2008).

Figs 1 and 2 : Specimen from a lowland, forest stream on the island of Langkawi, Peninsular Malaysia. This turtle shows the features typical of the species.

References :

Fritz, U.; D Guicking, M Auer, R. S Sommer, M Wink, A. K Hundsdrfer 2008. Diversity of the Southeast Asian leaf turtle genus Cyclemys: how many leaves on its tree of life?. Zoologica Scripta, 37, pp 367390.