The four-eyed turtle is a threatened (1), little-known reptile, named for the striking circular shapes on the top of the head that look like eyes (4). The carapace, or upper shell, of this species is brown speckled with darker flecks. The shell on the underside of the turtle, or plastron, is salmon pink, also with dark flecks and marks. The head is dark brown or black, with dark brown jaws and a pink or reddish chin. Three prominent light stripes run from the head, back along the neck. The backs of the dark brown forelimbs have a pinkish-red tinge (2), and webbed feet are suited to this turtle’s aquatic lifestyle (4).
Little is known about the biology of this threatened species. It apparently lays clutches of two to six white, elongated eggs. Four-eyed turtles in captivity have eaten a diet of fruit, lettuce and fish (2).
Like many other freshwater turtles, the largely uncontrolled and devastating trade for food and traditional medicine in many parts of Asia poses the greatest threat to the four-eyed turtle (1)(6). The fairly small populations in Lao PDR and Vietnam are not considered as threatened as the main population in China, where it is at risk of extinction (1), probably due to the fact that China is the major consumer of freshwater turtles (7).
Despite many turtle species being protected by a listing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and China’s Wild Animals Protection Law, freshwater turtles are still found in restaurants and food markets. Raised conservation awareness and more effective law enforcement is required if the four-eyed turtle, and other freshwater turtles, are to survive (7).
Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.