The Arakan turtle, also known as the Arakan forest turtle, is a semiterrestrial turtle native to Myanmar and Bangladesh. The species was considered practically extinct at the beginning of the 20th century, but that changed in 1994 when a specimen was found at a market in Myanmar.
Arakan forest turtles are mainly nocturnal, and they feed on, well, almost anything – fallen leaves, fruit, bugs, crustaceans, worms, mushrooms, and even fish!
Despite the huge menu they get to choose from, they’re considered one of the rarest turtle species in the world.
Want to know more about this endangered species? Then read on!
Arakan Turtle Facts
- Scientific Name: Heosemys depressa
- Family: Geoemydidae
- Size: 11 inches
- Weight: 7-10 pounds
- Diet: omnivorous
Arakan forest turtles are among the 25 most endangered turtle species in the world. In fact, for almost a century, they were considered extinct. Turns out they were just really good at hiding. This isn’t too big of a surprise, given that it is believed only a few hundred of them live in the wild today.
Unfortunately, this also means that we don’t know a whole lot about the species. For example, their role in the local ecosystem is unclear, and even their lifespan is a big question mark.
What we do know is that efforts are being made all around the world to preserve and study the species. Which, hopefully, means we’ll know a lot more about them in the near future.
What Does the Arakan Turtle Look Like?
An adult Arakan turtle can grow up to 10-12 inches in length. For reference, that is about the length of an A4 piece of paper, the average Barbie doll, or half a dachshund.
Their shells are mostly light brown with irregular darker patterns. Their head ranges from grey to brown, and they have relatively long legs with large claws that come in handy (no pun intended) when feeding.
Where Can the Arakan Forest Turtle Be Found?
The Arakan forest turtle’s geographical distribution is pretty unique. They can only naturally be found in a small bamboo forest region shared by Myanmar and Bangladesh, on the slopes of the Arakan Mountains (hence the name).
What Kind of Habitat Do Arakan Forest Turtles Live In?
Arakan turtles are a semi-terrestrial species. In other words, they enjoy living both on land and in water, especially while they’re young.
As they get older, they develop a preference for living on land. However, they never seem to get over their love of H2O, as the area they inhabit is in the middle of the Monsoon Zone.
Around 40 inches of rain falls monthly between June and October. No wonder they’re good swimmers.
While on land, Arakan forest turtles like hiding under leaves and waiting for an unsuspecting worm or bug to come close enough.
What Do Arakan Forest Turtles Like to Eat?
In short, pretty much everything. As we’ve mentioned before, the species’ diet consists of a range of tiny animals such as worms, fish, and bugs.
They also enjoy eating things that require less effort to catch, such as fruit that falls from the trees or animal feces. We know, disgusting.
When Arakan forest turtles hunt, they hunt. Despite the common misconception of turtles being sluggish (The Rabbit and the Turtle anyone?), these rhino poop eaters, as locals call them, are actually very aggressive hunters.
How Many Eggs Do Arakan Forest Turtles Usually Lay?
Arakan turtles lay between three and seven eggs once a year, not necessarily all of which are fertilized. These eggs take over three months to hatch, and, sadly, most hatchlings don’t make it to adulthood.
Arakan turtles breed between October and January. When it’s time to lay eggs, the female will dig a hole in the ground and take a few hours to deposit all the eggs into it. No rush, take your time.
What Predators Do Arakan Turtles Have?
The Arakan turtle’s biggest threat are humans. On top of being considered a culinary delicacy, some believe that the turtle’s shell has medicinal properties.
All of this has lead to extensive poaching which, along with the deforestation of their habitat, is what made the species almost extinct in the first place.
Arakan Forest Turtle Video
Arakan forest turtles are truly amazing creatures – they stubbornly survive despite having been on the brink of extinction for over a century. It would truly be a shame to see this species die out as a result of human greed.
For now, we can only hope that the efforts that conservation centers, zoos, and sanctuaries all around the world put into protecting the Arakan forest turtle will be a success.