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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Malayan Snail-eating Turtle

Species : Malayemys macrocephala
Maximum carapace length : 21 cm

Malayemys macrocephala (Malayan Snail-eating Turtle) is a relatively small freshwater terrapin currently listed (in 2021) as 'least concern' by IUCN; formerly it was widely categorised as 'vulnerable', however IUCN state that the population has increased in the past 20 years.

It inhabits wet lowlands, and adapts well to rice paddies and associated drainage ditches, where it feeds mainly on snails.

Its carapace is a rich brown in colour, and is relatively flat. There is a narrow vertebral ridge, and a less distinct parallel ridge on either side (see Fig 4). Its head and neck are brown to black, with pale stripes; diagnostically for this species there are four or fewer pale stripes below the snout. The plastron is pale yellow with black blotches, and there is a pale stripe on the front legs. Females are larger than males.

This is a wide-ranging species known to occur in the lowlands of northern, west-central and southern Thailand, and northern Peninsular Malaysia, although the population in the latter territory is considered to be restricted. Its range may extend westwards into parts of Myanmar.

Figs 1 to 4 : Images of a fully grown adult found near the  margins of a freshwater pond in Kaeng Krachan district, Phetchaburi Province, Thailand.

Photos thanks to Charles Currin

References :

Auliya, M. (2007). An Identification Guide to the Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore and Timor Leste. Traffic Southeast Asia. 99 pp.

Cota, M. 2021. Malayemys macrocephala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021.

Links :

IUCN - Malayemys macrocephala


Fig 1
ゥ  Charles Currin
Fig 2
ゥ  Charles Currin
Fig 3

ゥ  Charles Currin

Fig 4

ゥ  Charles Currin