Fun Yellow-spotted River Turtle Facts For Kids

Anamika Balouria
Oct 20, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Read these yellow-spotted river turtle facts about the turtle also known as the yellow side-necked turtle.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

The yellow-spotted river turtle is one of the largest turtles in South America. This species was first described by the German Zoologist, Frenz Hermann Troschel, in 1848. They are a kind of side-necked turtle who does not put their head right into their shell. They are mostly spotted in flooded forests, riverbanks, and slow-flowing rivers.

They are native to South America, the Amazon, and the Orinoco Basin. These species can live up to 30 years and are diurnal by nature. They have a dark-colored hard shell and yellow spots on their heads and necks, which make them unique among other turtles. The eggs are laid in sandy areas near the riverbank and in two clutches. They are sexually dimorphic as the females are larger than the males.

They are omnivores on the basis of their food habits and feed on both fruits and small fish. The yellow-spotted river turtle's predators are snakes, humans, large fish, and frogs. These species are now categorized by the IUCN as Threatened Species and are listed as Vulnerable. Some South American people eat them, as well as, their eggs as their food.

Read and learn some interesting and surprising facts about other turtle species such as the Florida softshell turtle and the snapping turtle.

Yellow-spotted River Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a yellow-spotted river turtle?

The yellow-spotted river turtle, Podocnemis unifilis, is a large South American turtle species. They are also known as yellow-spotted side-necked turtles because they do not pull their necks inside the shell directly, but bend them to the side and then tuck head inside. As they are native to the Amazon Basin, they are also known as yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles.

What class of animal does a yellow-spotted river turtle belong to?

The yellow-spotted side-necked turtles belong to the class of reptiles and the genus Podocnemis. They are from the family of Podocnemididae and their scientific name is Podocnemididae.

How many yellow-spotted river turtles are there in the world?

The yellow-spotted river turtles are under Threatened Species and their exact number is unknown. They are only one category below Endangered species similar to the black-breasted leaf turtle.

Where does a yellow-spotted river turtle live?

The yellow-spotted river turtles are native to South America. They are mostly seen on the Amazon and Orinoco river. Many times, they are seen in Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela rainforests.

What is a yellow-spotted river turtle's habitat?

The yellow-spotted river turtle adaptations are such that they are mostly found on the riverbank, calm, and freshwater because they are slow swimmers. They are often seen taking sunbaths and can be seen near oxbow lakes and ponds. The yellow-spotted river turtle habitat during the flood season is in the flooded forest where the water flow is low.

Who do yellow-spotted river turtles live with?

The yellow-spotted river turtles hatch eggs in two clutches with a maximum of 35 eggs in each clutch, and when they are grown, adults live their lives in solitary. Many times, they are seen in groups taking sunbaths along the riverbanks.

How long does a yellow-spotted river turtle live?

The yellow-spotted river turtle's lifespan is between 20-30 years. They can survive up to 30 years and even above in a few exceptional cases.

How do they reproduce?

The yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle reproduction is not evident with many details, but the male nips the female's feet and tail in order to lure her. Once they mate, the female lays eggs near the riverbank in sand areas and digs a shallow hole to protect her eggs. The eggs are laid in two clutches in the evening during the dry season to avoid any flood calamity and are long oval-shaped with a hard shell.

An approximate estimation of 4-35 eggs are laid in each of the two clutches, which majorly depends upon the female body size. The eggs which are kept under the warmth of 90 F (32 C) are born male, whereas, above that, they are born female. It takes around 65-159 days for eggs to hatch and look for their own food once they hatch.

What is their conservation status?

The yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle conservation status is Vulnerable for many reasons, one being humans as they kill them for their food and use the shells for trade. Apart from this, natural calamities and predators have also led them under the category of Threatened Species by the IUCN.

Yellow-spotted River Turtle Fun Facts

What do yellow-spotted river turtles look like?

The yellow-spotted river turtle, Podocnemis unifilis, is one of the largest yellow-headed turtles in South America. They have a hard dome-shaped dark brown shell with scales. They have yellow-orange colored spots or markings on their neck and head. The most distinctive feature is the keels on their second and third scutum. The yellow-spotted side-necked turtle generally has a habit of inserting their heads into the shell by bending their neck rather than directly pulling them into it like other turtles such as the green sea turtle.

Yellow-spotted river turtles bask in groups on wood logs.

How cute are they?

When these yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles are young, they are cute, but as they grow they become less attractive and cute.

How do they communicate?

There is no such communication trend evident in the yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle. During the mating season, they are seen nipping the female tail and feet, which can be considered one of their gestures to communicate with each other.

How big is a yellow-spotted river turtle?

The yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle is up to 17.7 in (45 cm) long. The females are larger and heavier in comparison to their male counterparts.

How fast can a yellow-spotted river turtle move?

There is no evidence available to show how fast they move. However, based on their habitat, they can be classified as slow swimmers because they are mostly found near calm freshwater riverbanks.

How much does a yellow-spotted river turtle weigh?

These yellow-headed turtles weigh is up to 18 lb (8 kg). The females can be twice as heavy as the males.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and the female of the species.

What would you call a baby yellow-spotted river turtle?

In general, the baby of a turtle is called hatchlings and young turtles.

What do they eat?

The yellow-spotted river turtles are omnivores and their diet consists of small fish, insects, fruits, vegetables, and creatures such as corals, and snails.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are not poisonous, but they are seen engaging themselves in nipping, which might be a threat to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they are good pets and are good at breeding when kept under suitable conditions.

Did you know...

These species are cold-blooded reptiles, with the barbel on the chin providing touch sensory.

The yellow color is more prominent when these species are young and keeps on shrinking as they grow. The female yellow-spotted side-necked turtle's yellow spots almost go away by the time they grow up, whereas, in a few exceptional cases, the yellow spots remain on the male body.

Are yellow-spotted river turtles Endangered?

Yes, they are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, just one level below Endangered. They are Vulnerable because these species are used for trade and food by some residential or native people.

How does a yellow-spotted river turtle protect itself?

They protect themselves from the predators such as snakes, humans, large fish, and mammals with the help of their hard covering brown shells.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our bog turtle interesting facts and Olive Ridley sea turtle fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable yellow spotted river turtle coloring pages.

Yellow-spotted River Turtle Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fruits, weeds, invertebrates, fish

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

4-35 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

Up to 18 lb (8 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

riverbanks, river, flooded forest

Where Do They Live?

south america

How Long Were They?

Up to 17.7 in (45 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Podocnemis unifilis

What Do They Look Like?

Brown, yellow, gray

Skin Type

Scales and hard shell

What Are Their Main Threats?

snakes, birds, humans, large fish

What is their Conservation Status?

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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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