Six-tubercled river turtle (Podocnemis sextuberculata)

Close up of the six-tubercled river turtle
Loading more images and videos...

Six-tubercled river turtle fact file

Six-tubercled river turtle description

GenusPodocnemis (1)

The six-tubercled river turtle is named for the six pairs of prominent, swollen lumps that are found on the outer edge of the underside of the juvenile’s shell (the plastron), where it meets the upper surface (the carapace). The swellings typically disappear as the turtle ages, but may remain present in some adults. Other characteristic features of this species are a domed and elliptical shell, with broad, smooth scutes, and a serrated rim at the rear exhibited in the juveniles, but which disappears in adulthood (2). The upper shell is grey to olive-brown, while the lower part is yellowish-grey or brown. The head is coloured olive to reddish-brown becoming cream on the jaws, and is broad, with a protruding snout, a deep groove between the eyes and one or two chin barbells. The neck and limbs are dark grey to olive, and the male possesses a longer, thicker tail than the female (2).

Also known as
six-tubercled Amazon river turtle.
Podocnémide Tuberculée.
Cupiso, Iaça, Pitiu.
Carapace length: up to 32 cm (2)

Six-tubercled river turtle biology

The six-tubercled river turtle feeds on aquatic plants and fish (2), using its wide gape and powerful jaws to capture prey (4). The nesting season of this species varies according to location, but usually falls between June and October (2). After mating, the females make lengthy migrations, averaging 18 kilometres in northern Brazil, to the nesting sites (5). Eggs are laid after dark in holes excavated on the sandy banks of rivers, which are exposed when the rivers are low (5) (6). Clutches number between 7 and 22 soft-shelled, creamy-white eggs, which are covered over with sand and left to incubate, while the female returns to the river (2) (6). On hatching, the young turtles’ carapaces measure between 45 and 47 millimetres long (2).


Six-tubercled river turtle range

The six-tubercled river turtle is found in the Amazon drainage of northern Brazil, north-eastern Peru and south-eastern Colombia (1) (2)


Six-tubercled river turtle habitat

A freshwater species, the six-tubercled river turtle inhabits rivers and other water bodies within the Amazon drainage (2).


Six-tubercled river turtle status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Six-tubercled river turtle threats

Like many turtle species, the six-tubercled river turtle is hunted for human consumption. In some areas, the exploitation is heavy, with hundreds of individuals collected each week in Tefé, north-west Brazil (7). Overexploitation has already drastically reduced the populations of two related turtle species from the same region, the Giant South American turtle (Podocnemis expansa) and the yellow-headed sideneck turtle (Podocnemis unifilis), and without intervention, it is likely that the six-tubercled river turtle will suffer the same fate (7).


Six-tubercled river turtle conservation

In order to preserve heavily exploited turtle species, such as the six-tubercled river turtle, it is imperative that sustainable use programmes are implemented and effectively managed (7). In addition, protection is required for the waterways used by this species to travel from feeding grounds to the nesting sites (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To learn more about turtle conservation visit:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:


The top shell of a turtle.
In reptiles, the lower shell of a turtle.
Large, bony plates or scales on the upper or lower shell of a turtle or tortoise.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
  2. Turtles of the World (February, 2009)
  3. CITES (October, 2008)
  4. Neill, W.T. (1965) Notes on the Five Amazonian Species of Podocnemis (Testudinata: Pelomedusidae). Herpetologica, 21: 287 - 294.
  5. Fachín-Terán, A., Vogt, R.C. and Thorbjarnarson, J.B. (2006) Seasonal Movements of Podocnemis sextuberculata (Testudines: Podocnemididae) in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, Amazonas, Brazil. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 5: 18 - 24.
  6. Foote, R.W. (1978) Nesting of Podocnemis unifilis (Testudines: Pelomedusidae) in the Colombian Amazon. Herpetologica, 34: 333 - 339.
  7. Klemens, M.W. and Thorbjarnarson, J.B. (1995) Reptiles as a food resource. Biodiversity and Conservation, 4: 281 - 298.

Image credit

Close up of the six-tubercled river turtle  
Close up of the six-tubercled river turtle

© Whaldener Endo

Whaldener Endo


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Six-tubercled river turtle (Podocnemis sextuberculata) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top