10" - 14"
15" - 18" (record of
Hatchlings are omnivorous feeding on
insects, larvae, molluscs, carrion and aquatic vegetation. Adults are
predominantly herbivorous feeding on plant materials (mostly water hyacinth) and
fruits fallen into the water.
Mid 70s F to mid 80s F
Mid 80s F to mid 90s F
Mid 70s F to mid 80s F
DO NOT let temperatures drop
ponds, lagoons, streams and tributaries of large rivers. During the wet season,
they avoid fast flowing waters by inhabiting flooded forests and lakes,
whereas during the
dry season they concentrate in the principal riverbeds
Widespread in the Amazon and Orinoco
drainages of northern South America including Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru,
Columbia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Bolivia, and Brazil
Being a large avid basking turtle, a
secure basking area must be provided for the larger specimens. Very aquatic and
only come out of the water to bask and lay eggs. A powerful heat lamp and UVB
light are necessary for these gentle giants. They are hardy, but very
sensitive to lower temperatures. A submersible pond heater is a must for outdoor
set-ups and the temperature must not drop below 60 F.
A 100 gallon tank
minimum for smaller adult males and 160 gallon or larger pond for the bigger
females. They are excellent swimmers and do best in large enclosures such as
ponds, pools or stock tanks. The water level should be as deep as possible, but
beware of turtles climbing out.
Hatchlings will feed on various invertebrates, fish, turtle/fish pellets and
plenty of aquatic vegetation. Adults are herbivorous and will take in pellets
and protein when offered. There is no need to offer high-protein foods on a
regular basis for adults. Pellets should be offered sparingly once to twice a
week, with emphasis on tortoise pellets more so than aquatic turtle pellets
(higher in protein).
Provide an abundant and varied supply
of aquatic plants and leafy greens in the tank at all times.
is a gentle turtle and usually do well with other South American species having
are among the most gentle turtles in the world moving with grace as they swim
and feed. They adapt well to captivity and will take food readily from the
Once popular in the 1970s in the pet
turtle trade, they are now listed on CITES Appendix II. Their decline is due to
the pet trade, habitat destruction and locals consuming these large turtles and
their eggs. They are not readily available in the US pet trade, however, there
are a few private breeders and captive hatchlings cost between US$250-350. These
turtles are also listed by US ESA as endangered and require a permit for
interstate sales; gift and loans are exempted.