15 Weirdest Turtles in The World

01. Eastern Long-Necked

Weirdest Turtles

Also known as snake-necked turtle because its neck portion and face looks deceivingly like a snake and its neck grows to a length of about 25 cm. Their upper shell varies from darkish red-brown to almost black. Their feet have sharp claws and are webbed for swimming while their jaws are hard and strong for biting.

Very commonly found in Australia, they are mostly found in shallow waters and slow moving water bodies. They feed on tadpoles, fish, and frogs and their long necks help in capturing their prey much faster, and their large front claws help in tearing their meat apart a lot faster. The female turtles of this species lays anywhere between 4 and 20 eggs at a time, usually between spring and summer. After an incubation period of about 8 months, baby turtles are born!

02. Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

Also known as the Asian giant soft-shell turtle, these turtles are completely at home in fresh water. Completely flat in stature, this turtle actually resembles a platypus shape! With a smooth olive- green carapace, this turtle has a wide head and eyes close to the snout. This species of turtles can grow in length to about 6 ft. (around 2 m) and is carnivorous feeding on mollusks, fish, and other crustaceous species in the water.

A lot of the turtle’s life is spent underground, where he lies motionless with only eyes and mouth sticking out of the sand! Quite a cute sight indeed! They come out only to take a breath or two and go back underground and lay about 20-28 eggs per hatch on the riverbanks.

This turtle prefers living in freshwater streams and slow moving water bodies and is usually found in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, and Philippines, etc. Sadly, now, it comes under the endangered category, spotted in very few places such as Cambodia’s Mekong River.

03. Barbour’s Map Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

With dark skin and yellow or green markings, this species of turtle have broad heads with distinctive markings and patterns on its head.

The female species are much larger in size than males, with their back shells measuring between 15 cm to 33 cm while the males measure just about 9 to 14 cm in length. The lower jaw sticks out prominently more than their upper jaw.

Their green dome has spines and they have quite a few markings on their neck, back, and tail. They are usually found in southeast of the United States in places such as Alabama, and Georgia around the Chipola Rivers. They usually live most of their lives in fresh water and come out only to lay eggs, or get a bit of sun and a breath of fresh air.

Males usually attract the female gender by stick their neck out and caressing the sides of the female’s head. On laying eggs, the turtles take about 58 days to hatch.

04. Chinese Softshell Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

The length of this turtle can reach up to l foot and has webbed feet for swimming. They are known as soft shell because they do not have the pokey scales on the back like other turtles. The shell of the turtle is leathery, mostly on the sides, and there is a solid bone only in the center of the carapace while the rest of it is soft. The soft shell of the turtle especially helps in swimming a lot more easily in open waters.

Mostly olive in color, they have dark patches all over as well as on the head. There are dark patches on the lips and lines on the eyes, too. Usually spotted and found in China, Japan, Russia, and Vietnam, they have also been now seen in Malaysia, Philippines, Bataan Island, Guam, and California, too.

Found in rivers, lakes, and ponds, these turtles prefer muddy waters. They are carnivorous and feed on fish, crustaceans, and insects along with marsh plants. Their flat, tube-like noses allow them to snorkel around in water, where they spend most of their time. When they need to catch prey or take in a breath of air, they lift their head above water to do so.

A distinctive thing about this turtle is the means by which they secrete urea through their mouths as opposed to how other turtles do so. Without drinking salty water from the brackish waters they live in, they use this method so that water loss from their systems in reduced.

Considered a delicacy in many parts of China, these turtles are bred in farms and sold all over. The females can lay close to 30 eggs per hatch and after a short incubation period of about 60 days, the eggs hatch.

05. Spiny Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

Spiny around the carapace, this turtle gets its name from there and greatly resembles a pin cushion! They make the best use of these spines by deterring predators or any other danger. As the turtles grow older, they begin to lose the spikes, acquiring a smoother shell. They come under critically endangered species.

They are usually found around the rainforest areas of south-eastern Asia in shallow waters where they can easily hide among leaf litters, a color that is similar to their carapace.

For reproduction, these turtles need quiet environments and a lot of good nutrition, thus making this species quite high maintenance. With just l or 2 large eggs per clutch, their rate of reproduction is relatively low, contributing to their status of being endangered.

06. Big-Headed Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

Its enormous head is one of the first things you notice about this turtle, justifying its name! Its triangular head, in comparison to its body, is what stands out on seeing this turtle. Understandably, it cannot retract into its shell during times of danger, thus the top and side of this turtle have bony armor for its protection. On the opposite end, this turtle also has a thin, long tail emerging from its flattened carapace, which is also covered in scales. It usually has a dark outer shell and a yellow inner shell!

07. African Helmeted Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

These turtles usually live in deeper bodies of water as they do not have webbed feet like other turtles to inhabit pond waters. Known commonly as Pelomedusa, they are the kinds that prefer strolling in the bottom lower areas, especially those that are about one and a half times their height so that they can stand and reach the surface too.

The full-grown adult measures up to 7 inches (18 cm) and their olive colored shells are not very thick. Their long and thick tales are their distinguishing factors especially of the males, as the female tales are usually much shorter.

It is also fondly referred to as the marsh terrapin and comes under the category of small turtles. Spotted in major countries in Africa like Ghana and Cape Town, they are considered to be semi-aquatic, living half their lives in water and half on land. It eats just about anything that comes its way! From insects, snails, and tadpoles to algae and other vegetation, it is not particularly fussy about its food.

The colder months usually go in them burying themselves underground while the wet weathers are when they take off on a journey. The males usually follow the females, nodding their head at her, trying to flirt in a way! If the female is interested, she will respond in a similar manner. The female usually lays about 10 eggs at a time and hatch in about 90 days when buried about 7 inches deep!

08. Indian Flapshell Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

This is a freshwater turtle species that is found in south-east Asia. It gets its name from the femoral flaps it possesses, that are located on the flat part of the shell known as the plastron. These flaps contribute to covering the turtle’s limbs.

Their bodies are mostly oval shaped in the full grown adult along with a completely arched turtle shell. Their large flap covers and protects the hind legs as well as the short tail. This species is sighted in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and bordering areas.

These turtles are omnivorous in appetite, feeding on fish to even fruits and vegetables! They are often spotted in stagnant waters or even canals and tanks of any sort. These turtles are, in fact, preferred because of their role in feeding on dead fragments, live snails, and insects. They are known to go into a stage of estivation, something similar to hibernation, during drought time, and can even live up to 160 days! They usually have along session of copulation and the female then lays eggs from 2 to 16, twice a year, usually buried in the soil.

09. Painted Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

Widespread in North America, this species of turtles is usually abundantly found in wetlands that are vegetated and shallow. Records even suggest that existence of this turtle was seen 15 million years ago!

The female gender of the adult turtle is about 10 inches (25 cm) in length while the male is usually smaller. Although the carapace is usually dark, usually olive in color, this turtle has red, orange, and yellow stripes on its neck and undersides.

The head differentiates this turtle from the rest. It consists of yellow stripes just on the face with streaks on the eye as well. There are even subspecies amidst this painted turtle species- eastern painted turtle, midland painted turtle, and southern painted turtle.

Although they consume algae, small water plants, they themselves are consumed when in the egg form by rodents and snakes but as they grow older, their outer shell is hard and provides them with enough protection.

This turtle is a day-turtle, basking in the glory of the sun, while in the winter months, it goes under hibernation. Mating season is usually in spring and again in autumn, and females can lay up to 5 clutches in a year’s span. Their incubation period is usually for about 80 days and around August or September, the young breaks out of the egg cover.

This turtle has quite a few temperature constraints to maintain during hibernation, egg laying and nest making as well. Reaching the ideal temperature before going ahead with these activities is extremely important.

10. Alligator Snapping Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

It is uncanny to know that the pre-historic alligator snapping turtle looks just like an alligator himself! One of the largest freshwater turtles in North America, this is one of the largest turtles alive.

Sometimes referred to as the dinosaur of the turtle world, this is found exclusively in rivers, canals, and lakes, and it is rumored to they can live up to the age of 50 and even 100! Males can weigh up to 175 pounds, although the heaviest are rumored to be even 220 pounds whereas the females weigh much less at 50 pounds.

Although all their lives are spent in water, they can even be under water for close to an hour before coming out to catch a breath. Female alligator snappers are the only ones that venture out about 50 m to nest their eggs.

The alligator snappers are pretty still under water and also have algae collected on their green backs, making them completely camouflaged and therefore hard to find for predators. However, when they hunt, their tongues are bright red and twisted to look like a piece of flesh that attracts fish, frogs, and other curious creatures toward it. As the fish heads into its jaws, the turtle snaps and that’s the end of the story!

During reproduction, the male alligator mounts the female and eggs are laid most often just once a year or once eveiy alternate year, giving about 52 in one hatch.

11. Matamta

Weirdest Turtles

This species is primarily found in South America, particularly in the Amazon, to be precise! This species is an extinct one that belongs to the Chelus genus. It’s been referred to with different names like “needle nose” and “leaf head”, and has incidentally been renamed about 14 times over two centuries! This was first found in 1783, making this discovery over 200 years old!

Mata mata translates to “kill kill” in Spanish, making this quite the ideal name for this turtle. Leading a sedentary lifestyle, this turtle has a large flattened head and its blackened or brown carapace is filled with spikes. Its head and skin also contains spikes and is colored such to possibly help it camouflage from predators by looking like a long bark or piece of wood. Stagnant pools, marshes, and swamps are its preferred habitats, yet prefer shallow waters so that its snout can reach out into the surface to take in a breath. Purely carnivorous, this species feeds on invertebrates and fish. They measure about 16 to 20 inches and are usually passive.

12. Mary River Turtle

Weirdest Turtles

Quite a stud looking turtle indeed! This is endangered and short necked and lives in Queensland, Australia. They were popular pets once in Australia, where almost 15.000 pets were sent to shops over a span of 10 years! One of Australia’s largest turtles, there are 50 cm in carapace length that have been seen.

Colors usually range in red, brown, or black while salmon pink is present on the tail and limbs. Although they often come to the surface to take in a breath of fresh air, they can also breathe through bimodal respiration, by absorbing oxygen through cloaca.

13. Saddle-Backed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise

Weirdest Turtles
Now extinct, this tortoise was a species of giant tortoises and part of the Testudinidae family and was purely endemic to Rodrigues. With an exceptionally long neck that it was able to raise, it resembled a giraffe’s neck. Its long neck enabled it to reach the taller vegetation while the other domed Rodrigues giant tortoise, which is much shorter, grazed on fallen leaves and grasses.

They were described as extremely docile creatures and seemed to have roamed in large herds. This species was helpful in dispersal of seeds and germination of newer plants and even helped maintain forests and pools.

It is said that this species of tortoises faced extinction as a result of human pressures and the arrival of human settlements on Rodriguez. Efforts to save them were made in the late 18th century but the slaughter continued and thus, saving them was unsuccessful.

14. Archelon

Weirdest Turtles

Yet another extinct species, these turtles belonged to an extinct genus of sea turtles. The first specimen was said to have been found in about 80.5 million years ago! The largest fossil, however, was discovered in South Dakota in the 1970s and measured 13 ft. in length and 4.9 m in width. If you want to know how it looked and functioned, the closest living relative is the leatherback sea turtle. The Archelon was a pure marine turtle and lived in shallow seas. It was a turtle that did not possess a hard shell and instead had a skeletal framework supporting its bony carapace. Not much is known about its reproduction capabilities and its food habits.

15. Meiolania (“Small Roamer”)

Weirdest Turtles

Also known as the ‘small roamer’, this extinct species of turtles is a genus of the basal turtle. It was recognized by its unusually shaped skull, which had horn-like protrusions. The horns in all likelihood would have prevented the turtle’s head from escaping into its shell, while the tail, too, had armored protrusions. Measuring about 8.2 ft. in length (2.5 m), this wasn’t a very tiny turtle at all!

They were known to have survived on plants primarily. It was seemingly hunted down much too often by the Lapita people, therefore making it an extinct species.

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