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Scientific Name:
Heosemys depressa

Conservation Status:
Critically endangered (once thought extinct until 1994)

Where to see them:
World of Reptiles

Fun Facts:

Females lay two to six eggs, usually once per year.

Rain or precipitation makes the animals lively.

Little is known about these extremely rare animals.

 

Arakan Forest Turtle

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Size
7-10 pounds, 11 inches in length

Range 
Arakan hills of western Burma

Habitat
Dense bamboo forests

Lifestyle
Mostly solitary diurnal turtles tend to lie dormant most of the time, hiding in leaves and debris unless they are eating or foraging for food. These are rather calm animals that can be found in streams and ponds in their forest, where they will rest in hiding under vegetation for hours on end. Rain seems to bring them to life, stimulating them to forage for food. They are rather aggressive when it comes to eating insects, worms and fish.

Food
Arakan forest turtles are omnivores; diet consists of equal parts animals and plants. They are big fans of fruit that fall to the forest floor.  They are aggressive in eating insects, crustaceans, worms, fish or anything they can get their mouths on.

Life Cycle

Arakan forest turtles lay two to six eggs, usually once a year, that incubate for 120 to 130 days at 80 to 84 degrees F.  Little is known about their life cycle. Successful breeding started about five years ago, and those young are not sexually mature yet. Eggs take approximately six weeks to be produced.

Neighbors
Tiger, leopard, gibbon, Asian elephant, Burmese python, impressed tortoise, muntjac, and Burmese black mountain tortoise.

Population Status and Threats
Arakan forest turtles are critically endangered, and natural populations are ever decreasing due to habitat loss and collection for Asian food markets. Once thought extinct in the wild, the Arakan forest turtle was rediscovered in an Asian food market in 1994. These turtles are collected for food and for their mystical medicinal cures. Habitat loss is due to agricultural expansion, logging and bamboo harvesting.

Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts

Zoo Atlanta is a leader in Arakan Forest turtle reproduction, producing five offspring since 2005. We continue to have eggs laid and learn new lessons on the species’ life cycle with every egg laid. The Zoo  recently acquired a second adult female to increase our success in producing more offspring.  In the bigger picture of conservation, Zoo Atlanta and some of its leaders have teamed up with the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) to help fix the problem at its source in Asia by raising awareness of the importance of these beloved turtles and bridging the gap of understanding.