The Striped-necked Leaf Turtle, scientific name Cyclemys
tcheponensis, is native to Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea and
Thailand, where it lives in and near clear mountain forest
streams. The young are primarily aquatic but the adults
spend more time on land.
These semi-aquatic, web-footed turtles grow to a length of
eight inches, with a round flattish shell, a single keel and
serrations on the back of the carapace which may help them
escape predators. Most have carapaces, plastrons, and skin
of various shades of brown, but some may be nearly black,
mahogany, or tan. The adults have a single hinge in the
plastron that allows limited closing of the shell.
The Striped-necked Leaf Turtle earned its name because it
has four bright stripes of yellow, orange or pink on each
side of its head. The Leaf part of the name comes from the
serrated brown shell which, when seen on the bottom of a
stream, resembles a dead leaf and gives the turtle some
Hatchlings can be kept in captivity in the same basic
fashion of any basking turtle: a 20 to 30 gallon aquarium
with a few inches of water, a sloping ramp up to a small,
flat land area with a dry basking spot under a spotlight, a
full-spectrum UV lamp on ten to twelve hours per day to
provide healthy growth, and water plants to provide hiding
places and snacks.
Indoor housing of adult Leaf Turtles should provide half the
area as land and half water just deep enough that the turtle
can reach the surface when standing on the bottom of the
tank. Both adults and hatchlings will need extremely clean
water, and you should plan both a strong water filter and
frequent water changes in order to keep your turtles healthy.
If you can provide outdoor housing that is safe from
predators, at least in the summer, your turtles will thank
you, and if you plan to breed them, some outdoor time may be
Hatchlings and adults both will eat commercial turtle foods,
soft fruits such as figs, earthworms, mealworms, crickets,
small feeder fish, crustaceans and small snails. A
cuttlebone in the habitat and a reptile calcium and vitamin
D3 supplement added to all food is recommended as well.
Plan to take your Asian Striped-necked Leaf Turtle to your
veterinarian for a checkup as soon as possible after your
purchase it, especially if it is a rescued turtle or there
is any chance that it was wild-caught. Parasites and
infections are common in turtles that haven't had the best
of care and can be deadly if not treated, and Asian wild-
caught turtles have also been very highly stressed by poor handling.