Big-headed Turtle

လိပ်ကြက်တူရွေး၊ ပုတ်သင်ညိုလိပ်၊ ဖွတ်လိပ်

Playsternon megacephalum






Extinction risk

Global IUCN statusEN
National IUCN statusCR


Head to body length

Body weight (kg)


Platysternon megacephalum is a widespread yet extremely localized species that is difficult to survey. It is known to be under intensive ongoing exploitation for commercial trade for medicinal and pet purposes, as well as some habitat loss impacts. The population is suspected to have decreased by over 90% in the last three generations from these threats. It is therefore listed as Critically Endangered.


Wild population



Myanmar population


Global population


Used to be common in certain parts of its distribution, but is now rare throughout its range. In the last three decades, there has been significant collection of individuals of this species from most of its sites. Population size is suspected to have decreased by at least 90% across its global range over the past 90 years (3 generations). The rate of reduction within Myanmar is considered likely to be similar. AOO of the species is 484 km2 and its EOO covers 353868.770 km2 in its habitats.

Habitat ecology

Platysternon megacephalum is a habitat specialist inhabiting steep clear water cascading streams in forested hill areas at altitudes between 100 and 800 m. A diet study in Hong Kong found fruits from Machilus spp. was most common, followed by insects, plant matter, crabs, and molluscs, with niche breadth wider in adults than juveniles (Sung et al. 2016). A radio telemetry-based study found that the mean home range of P. megacephalum was 97 m, with no difference between sexes, and longer distance movement in wet season (Sung et al. 2015b). Single clutches of 2-8 eggs per year have been reported (Sung et al. 2014), 1-3 eggs in China (Zhou and Li 2013). Females mature at 8 years and males at 13 years (Sung et al. 2015a). Lifespan is assumed to be around 50 years on average. The mid-point between the age at maturity (10 years) and average age of mortality (50 years) is 30 years, and used as generation length for this species.

Threats to survival

Threats to survival

Platysternon megacephalum is primarily threatened by intensive collection for trade; the species is a popular purchase as pet or display animal (even though it generally adapts poorly to captivity), there is apparently some medicinal usage, and some stock accumulation for farming purposes may be taking place. Habitat degradation of stream habitat is an additional threat.

Instruction: The visualization shows threats that are impacting each species. According to IUCN, direct threats are the proximate human activities or processes that have impacted, are impacting, or may impact the the status of the taxon being assessed. Click of the highlighted icons to see details each threat category.

Use and trade

Heavily targeted for international food and pet trade particularly with China (despite being difficult to keep in captivity), and medicinal use. Popularity in the pet trade appears to be partly due to resemblance to mythical creature in Chinese culture. One individual can fetch a price of $2,000.

Conservation Actions


Research undertaken

Captive breeding efforts are underway. Plans are in place to release individuals into a protected area with radio transmitters. It is listed in completely protected species by Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Area Law (2018) and CITES Appendix I.

Research needed

Effective law enforcement is needed. Following release of captive-bred individuals, research into the success of this is needed.

Assessed by

Kalyar Platt,Me Me Soe,Htun Thu,Kyaw Thu Zaw Wint,Swann Htet Naing Aung,Ko Myint,Kyi Soe Lwin

Reviewed by

James Tallant,Monica Böhm



National Redlist of Threatened Species in Myanmar

The Myanmar National Red List of threatened species contributes to the GEF funded “Strengthening Sustainability of Protected Area Management in Myanmar” project. To support the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (2015-2020), Target 12 for commitment to prevent the extinction of known threatened species and improve their conservation status, the National Red List of some selected taxa has been produced. This report summarizes the assessment process and its results with detailed descriptions for some selected threatened species in Myanmar.