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Heosemys spinosa (Gray, 1831)

Family Name: Geoemydidae
Taxonomic Group: Vertebrates (Reptile)
Common Name: Spiny Hill Terrapin, Spiny Terrapin


Taxonomic Group 1
Taxonomic Group 2
Family Name
Species Epithet
Common Names


Description Small to mecium sized tortoise with a rosy brown shell. Juveniles have the underside of the shell bright ochre yellow with a pattern of black lines, and serrations ('spines') along the edges of the shell. These become worn and obscured as the animal grows larger. Carapace with a flat top in side view, brown with serrated rear margin and a pale brown mid-dorsal ridge, and five vertebral scutes. Plastral scutes with blackish radiating lines. Head and limbs dark grey; a reddish spot on each side of the head. The carapace of hatchlings appears more flat and heart-shaped in top view, the margins covered with spiky serrations.

Ecology, Habitat & Location

Ecological Notes Inhabits mature forest where it seems to be nocturnally active and omnivorous. Adults are terrestrial in habits, while juvenile are more amphibious.
Habitats Forest, Terrestrial
Distribution In Singapore, native populations of this species seems to be confined to the Central Nature Reserves. Distributed in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Mindanao.
Nature Reserves Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Nature Reserve


Trends & Threats Habitat degradation. Illegal collecting for the pet trade.
Scientific Interest & Potential Value Hatchlings are in high demand as exotic pets.
Conservation Notes Habitat protection, strict policing against illegal collections, captive breeding programmes.


Species Status Native
Conservation Status Rare
Singapore Red Data Book 2008 Status Vulnerable (VU)
Singapore Red Data Book 1994 Status Vulnerable (V)




References Baker, N. & Lim, K. 2008. Wild animals of Singapore. Singapore: Draco Publishing and Distribution Pte Ltd. 180pp

Davison, G.W.H., Ng, P.K.L. & Ho, H.C (Eds.). 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book (2nd Edition). Singapore: Nature Society (Singapore). 285pp

Ng, P.K.L. & Wee, Y.C. (Eds.). 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book (1st Edition). Singapore: Nature Society (Singapore). 343pp


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Species record last updated on: 29 April 2021.