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Black-breasted Leaf Turtle

Geoemyda spengleri

Blending In

Black-breasted leaf turtles have 3 ridges running down the back of their jagged shell, giving the impression of a leaf. This allows them to blend in with the leaves on the forest floor, which is their preferred habitat.

About the Species

The eyes of the black-breasted leaf turtle are one of the most distinguishing features, besides their extremely textured shell.

The black-breasted leaf turtle is native to China and Vietnam. They have large eyes with white irises which gives them an alert and curious expression. This species gets its name from both the dark underside and shape of its shell. The hard top portion of the shell is formally known as the carapace, while the underside is called the plastron. A commonly unknown fact is that turtles are actually attached to their shells, with their back bone embedded into the carapace. Thus, when turtles grow, the shell also grows with them. Don't let the cartoon animations of turtles leaving their shells fool you! The shell is so deeply interconnected with the body of the turtle that there are nerves running throughout the shell, which means the turtle can feel when you touch their shell.

Words From the Experts


Like many turtles in Asia, the black-breasted leaf turtle is endangered due to habitat loss and over-collection for food and the domestic pet trade.



Did You Know?

This species is one of the smallest turtle species in the world, only reaching up to 5 inches.


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southern China and northern Vietnam

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Woodlands, forests

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5 inches

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Snails, worms, crustaceans, insects

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Larger mammals, humans

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Natural Defenses


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1–2 eggs per clutch

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Life Expectancy

20 years

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