Philippine Forest Turtle

Philippine Forest Turtle

Philippine pond turtle, Palawan turtle, Leyte pond turtle

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Superfamily
Family
SPECIES
Siebenrockiella leytensis
Population size
Unknown
LENGTH
21-130 cm

The Philippine forest turtle is a critically endangered freshwater turtle native to the Philippines. Its plastron is reddish-brown to black in color, sometimes with blotches of yellow. In juveniles, the plastron is a uniform yellow. The bridge (the hinge connecting plastron and carapace) is the same color as the plastron. It is significantly smaller than the carapace and narrow at the front and back. The skin of the legs, body, and neck are rough in appearance, being covered in tiny tubercles. The head is brown in color, sometimes speckled at the temples with light brown, orange, or red spots. A thin white to pale yellow line traverses through the width of the head just behind the openings of the ears, it may be divided at the center in some individuals. This has led to the species being nicknamed the 'bowtie turtle'. The line is more prominent in younger individuals. The upper jaw of this turtle is hooked and the skin on the sides of the neck and the chin are lighter in color. The lower jaw may also sometimes possess a pair of small yellow spots on the sides. The tail is uniformly light brown in color.

Cr

Crepuscular

No

Nocturnal

Om

Omnivore

Se

Semiaquatic

Te

Terrestrial

So

Social

P

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Subcontinents
Countries
Biogeographical realms

Philippine forest turtles are known only from northern Palawan and surrounding islands. This includes the island of Dumaran where these turtles are still relatively abundant in creeks. In the areas of Taytay and San Vicente, it is believed their populations are declining sharply. Philippine forest turtles live in the lowland riparian forests in rivers, swamps, and streams.

Philippine Forest Turtle habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Due to their rarity and their status as newly rediscovered, little is known about the lifestyle of Philippine forest turtles. From observations of captive adults, they proved to be very shy and retiring, spending considerable time hiding under rocks, both in and out of the water. They became active in the early morning and late evening, foraging for food and moved about during the night. They were not observed to be keen on basking in the sun, but this may have been the result of being in a captive environment.

Diet and Nutrition

Observations indicate that Philippine forest turtles are omnivores, favoring aquatic plants and they have been observed hunting small fish and crustaceans. In the wild, Philippine forest turtles are known to feed on figs.

Mating Habits

FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
hatchling
BABY CARRYING
5 egss

Females of this species lay up to 5 eggs and like in most turtles, the reproductive maturity of young turtles is delayed.

Population

Population threats

The Philippine forest turtle is an enigmatic freshwater turtle species, it exerts great fascination for turtle hobbyists. Due to the previous inability to locate it in the wild, the main threats to this species are thought to be habitat loss and potential pressure from collectors. Local Palawan people are known to keep these turtles in water troughs for domestic pigs, as these are supposed to bring luck for the household and the pigs, although it is not known if this luck is shared by the turtles.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Philippine forest turtle total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Philippine forest turtle is locally known as 'bakoko' in the Cuyonon language spoken on the coast of Palawan.
  • Despite another common name of this species 'Leyte pond turtle', it does not occur on the island of Leyte.
  • Turtles are thought to have exceptional night vision due to the unusually large number of rod cells in their retinas. They also see in color.

References

1. Philippine Forest Turtle on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_forest_turtle
2. Philippine Forest Turtle on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/39599/97378088

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