Heosemys spinosa (Gray, 1831)
The Spiny Turtle lives in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore but also on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. They are listed in Appendix II of CITES and are considered Endangered by the IUCN. They are called Spiny Turtles because of the shape of their marginal scutes, which are really sharp when they are young. These spines are a good example of nature evolution, indeed it seems they help to discourage predators from eating them. When the turtles grow up, the spines disappear.
It is thought that Spiny Turtles live in wooded habitats and especially like to spend time buried in the leaf litter. In the middle of the leaves the color of their shell provides excellent camouflage. This turtle is secretive and we don’t know a lot about their ecology, but they mostly are crepuscular and spend their days hiding. They are omnivorous, feeding on insect and invertebrates or fruits and greens as well.
The juveniles display a very striking plastron with a radiated pattern. We have a nice group of adults at the Turtle Conservancy and it seems they like the California climate. Indeed they belong to a tropical forest climate, with high humidity and warm temperature all year round. This species is quite well bred in the United States, which is a good thing for their future since we are able to establish good assurance colonies. We produce hatchlings every year, which contribute to our assurance colony.
How can you help: try to reduce your consumption of palm oil which is the main reason of habitat loss in Indonesia, in the range of the Spiny Turtle and countless other species. If you want a pet turtle, please adopt or obtain captive bred offspring that are not taken from the wild.