Painted Terrapin

    • Habitat:
      - Fresh and brackish water tidal rivers
      - Mangrove forests
      - Estuaries
    • Threats:
      - Collection of adults and eggs for food and pets
      - Fisheries bycatch
      - Coastal habitat destruction
      - Sand mining
    • Conservation Efforts:
      - Nest patrols, egg incubation, hatchling head start, and juvenile release
      - Population monitoring
      - Educational outreach and awareness
    • Wild Population:
      Exceedingly rare
    • Endangered Status:
      Critically Endangered

Fast Facts

Common names include Painted Terrapin, Saw-jawed Turtle, Painted Batagur, Three-striped Batagur, Tuntong (Indonesia/Brunei), Tuntung (Indonesia), Beluku (Indonesia), Tuntung Laut (Malaysia), Tao Lai Teen Bet (Thailand)

Males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism, whereby differing forms or characteristics are expressed between the sexes. In Painted Terrapins, the female is larger than the male. The species also exhibits sexual dichromatism, a type of sexual dimorphism, whereby the sexes differ in color. Female terrapins exhibit a gray-brown carapace with muted gray-black markings and gray-brown skin with a muted orange-brown cranial cap. Males exhibit a gray carapace with distinct gray-black markings and gray skin with a more distinct orange-red cranial cap fringed with dark gray-black.

The Painted Terrapin is named for the bright coloration exhibited by males during breeding season.

Primarily herbivorous; feeds on aquatic plants and grasses, overhanging and fallen leaves and fruit of figs and mangroves, and occasionally forages for aquatic invertebrates.

Breeding and nesting season varies by population location and is likely linked to seasonal weather activity, including equatorial wet/dry seasons.

  • Populations may breed and nest from June-August or November-February.
  • Females nest on mainland coastal marine or island beaches.
  • Females may lay up to 28 eggs per clutch, averaging 10-12, and may lay multiple clutches in a year depending on location.
  • Hatchlings disperse inland to fresh or low-salinity environments after hatching on brackish and marine water beaches.

Species Snapshot