Philippine pond turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis)

Philippine pond turtle
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Philippine pond turtle fact file

Philippine pond turtle description

GenusSiebenrockiella (1)

Known from just a few specimens, the Philippine pond turtle is one of the rarest and least known turtles in the world (4). One of its most distinctive features is the narrow yellow band that extends around the brown head, which also bears several small black markings and a small yellow spot on each side of the lower jaw (2) (5). The head is relatively large, with small white or pale greenish eyes (2), and a pointed, protruding snout (5). The neck is dark brown on top, with a lighter underside, and the limbs are similarly dark brown above and lighter below (2) (5). The toes are webbed, an adaptation to its aquatic lifestyle, and bear powerful claws (5). The oval shell of this turtle is brown to reddish-brown in colour and rather flat, while the shell on the underside is yellow-brown or reddish-brown (2) (5).

Also known as
Palawan Forest Turtle.
Geomyda leytensis, Heosemys leytensis.
Average length: 21 cm (2)

Philippine pond turtle biology

As this rare turtle is known from so few specimens, its biology remains unknown (5).


Philippine pond turtle range

This enigmatic turtle was first reported from the island of Leyte in the Philippines, from which it gained its scientific name (2). More recently, the Philippine pond turtle has been found on the island of Palawan, Philippines (2) (4).


Philippine pond turtle habitat

The Philippine pond turtle is a semi-aquatic, freshwater turtle (1), but details of its habitat requirements are not known.


Philippine pond turtle status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered


Philippine pond turtle threats

With just three specimens collected from Leyte in 1921 and one from Palawan in 1988 (1), with reports of some in 2004 (2), the Philippine pond turtle’s extreme rarity is undoubtedly cause for concern. Such rarity has gained the Philippine pond turtle somewhat of a legendary reputation, one that makes any further discovered individuals highly vulnerable to the pet trade, where they would be a highly desired and valuable object (1).


Philippine pond turtle conservation

Further research into the Philippine pond turtle is clearly needed (4), as more information would allow appropriate conservation actions to be implemented before time runs out for this mysterious reptile.

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

Find out more

For further information on the conservation of turtles see:





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:



  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2008)
  2. Bonin, F., Devaux, B. and Dupré, A. (2006) Turtles of the World. A&C Black Publishers Ltd, London.
  3. CITES (April, 2008)
  4. Turtle Conservation Fund (July, 2008)
  5. Ernst, C.H., Altenburg, R.G.M. and Barbour, R.W. (1997) Turtles of the World. ETI Information Systems Ltd, Netherlands.

Image credit

Philippine pond turtle  
Philippine pond turtle

© Pierre Fidenci / Endangered Species International

Endangered Species International
79 Brady St
San Francisco
United States of America


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