Top 10 Uniquely Weird Turtles

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Turtles are already pretty unique creatures, carrying their homes on their backs – a protective shell to hide in. We searched through a bunch of different turtles to find the most unique looking ones to share with you, and we think we’ve found some that you will enjoy learning about. So scroll down to see which 10 turtles we’ve added to the list of 10 most uniquely weird looking turtles!

Top 10 List

1. Matamata Turtle

Weird Turtles - Matamata Turtle
Matamata Turtle

Scientific Name:  Chelus fimbriata
Geographic Range: 
South America, primarily in the Amazon and Orinoco basins
40 -75 + years
Conservation Status:
Not listed on IUCN or CITES, however they are listed as near threatened on the Colombia Red List.

Learn More About The Matamata Turtle Here

The first of the weird turtles on our list is the very unique Matamata turtle is a large, sedentary, freshwater turtle that can be found throughout the Amazon in Northern South America. More specifically – they inhabit areas that include Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and the island of Trinidad. Within these areas they prefer areas such as slow moving, backwater streams, stagnant pools, marshes, and swamps. They have a unique way of feeding in these bodies of water – by using a technique called suction feeding, which turns the turtles mouth into something like a vacuum.

These unique turtles have a wide, flattened neck that is covered in various types of warts, ridges, and skin fringes. The Matamata turtle’s heads are also quite flat, with a triangular shape to it. Their mouth is fairly wide, their snout is long and tubular, and they have small eyes on the sides of their head.

2. Alligator Snapping Turtle

Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
Alligator Snapping Turtle

Scientific Name:  Macrochelys temminckii
Geographic Range: 
United States
20 – 70+ Years
Conservation Status: 

The next of the weird turtles on our list is the Alligator Snapping Turtle. They are a species of turtles that are native to the freshwater areas of the United States, and are one of the heaviest freshwater turtles in the world. They are often associated with, or confused with, the common snapping turtle, however the alligator snapping turtle is not closely related to the common snapping turtle. Alligator Turtles are opportunistic feeders, that are mainly carnivores. This means that they will try to catch or scavenge any meat they can find.

Alligator snapping turtles have large, heavy heads that end in a sharp looking “beak.” Their long, heavy duty shells have three dorsal ridges of large scales, that can be used to easily distinguish them from the common snapping turtle, which has a smoother shell. They are variations of solid gray, brown, black, or olive colours, and often covered in algae which helps to camouflage them. Around their eyes tends to be a radiating yellow pattern, and fleshy filaments that resemble eyelashes. Not counting the rare extrememly large specimens (that can be up to 300 pounds) snapping turtles generally weigh anywhere from 19 – 176 pounds and are 13 – 32 inches in length. Males are often larger than females.

3. Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle

Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi)
Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle

Scientific Name:  Chelodina mccordi
Geographic Range: Rote Island, Indonesia
Lifespan: Unknown
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

The Roti Island snake-necked turtle is a weird turtle indeed. It is critically endangered, and can only be found on Rote Island, Indonesia. Collection for the pet trade due to it’s desirable appearance had devastating affects for this turtles population. They have now become illegal to collect in order to try and protect this species. Outside of collection by humans there are few natural threats to this species. There are some reports of predation by feral pigs and loss of habitat, but illegal capture and trade remain the primary threat to the stability of the population.

The shell of the Roti island snake-necked turtle are on average 7.1 – 9.4 inches in length, and has a colour of pale grey brown. The plastron of the turtle (the underneath of the shell) is a pale white colour. The neck of the snake (which is nearly as long as the shell, and resembles the body of a snake) is a dark brown grey on top, and a light beige underneath. Their eyes are a black iris surrounded by a bright white ring.

4. Indian Roofed Turtle

Indian Roofed Turtle (Pangshura tecta)
Indian Roofed Turtle

Scientific Name:  Pangshura tecta
Geographic Range: 
South Asia
10 – 15 Years
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern

The Indian roofed turtle is a species of turtle that can be distinguished by the distinct “roof” that is seen at the top part of their shells. It is found in the major slower rivers of South Asia, as they are a quiet water turtle. They can usually be found in quiet streams, canals, oxbows, ponds, and man-made water tanks. Occasionally, they can occur in brackish coastal waters. Indian roofed turtles are also a popular pet for people in the Indian Subcontinent.

The top of the Indian Roofed Turtles shell keels upwards, almost like that of a roof. Their shells are various shades of olive, and their base colour for their body is various shades of olive and blacks. Their necks have many yellow stripes going down it, their legs have various yellow spots, and their heads can also have splotches of reds and oranges thrown in with the olive and black. On average their shells grow to be about 9 inches long.

5. Diamondback Terrapin

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
Diamondback Terrapin

Scientific Name: Malaclemys terrapin
Geographic Range: 
United States
25 – 40 Years
Conservation Status: Near Threatened

The next turtle on our list is the diamondback terrapin, which is a species of turtle that is native to the brackish coastal marshes of Eastern and Southern United States, and Bermuda. It has one of the largest geographic ranges of all turtles in North America, being found all the way from the Southern Florida Keys to the Northern Cape Cod. Diamondback terrapins can survive in freshwater as well as full-strength ocean water but adults prefer intermediate salinities, and tend to stick closer to the shoreline than other sea turtles.

Their common name, diamondback terrapin, refers to the diamond like patterns on the top of their shells. Their shells are usually wider at the back than the front, making it appear wedge-shaped from above. The colour of the shell is usually a variation of brown and grey, and the body can vary between grey, brown, yellow, or white. All of these turtles have wiggly, black markings and spots on their bodies and heads, the pattern of which is unique to each turtle. Females are often larger than the males, with carapace lengths of 7.5 inches for females and only 5.1 inches for males.

6. Painted Terrapin

Weird Turtles Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis)
Male Painted Terrapin

Scientific Name:  Batagur borneoensis
Geographic Range: 
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand
25 – 30+ Years
Conservation Status:
Critically Endangered

The gorgeous painted terrapin is an aquatic turtle that can be found in the rivers of South East Asia. They are one of the most endangered river turtles in this area. The largest threats to their survival include: harvesting by fishermen to eat, collecting them to meet pet and food demand, habitat loss due to land conversion to palm oil, and fish and shrimp farming.

Juveniles of this species are an all over grey colour, while adults have a more brown/grey shell. They have webbed feet that help them swim in the rivers that they live in. There are two main differences between males and females of this species, one being that females tend to be larger than the males. The second is that during breeding season the head of the male turtle will turn a bright white colour, with a red stripe appearing between his eyes. These gorgeous colours almost look like they have been painted onto the turtle, which is where their common name comes from.

7. Black Pond Turtle

Black Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii)
Black Pond Turtle

Scientific Name:  Geoclemys hamiltonii
Geographic Range: South Asia
Lifespan: 15 – 20 Years
Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The unique looking black pond turtle is the next turtle to grace our list. This turtle is a species of freshwater turtle that is endemic (only found in) South Asia, and is also occasionally referred to as the spotted pond turtle, or the Indian spotted turtle.

As the name suggests, black pond turtles are mainly black, with small yellowish spots over their entire bodies. Their heads are rather large for a turtle, with a smaller, blunt nose. On the opposite side of their body, they have an extremely short tail, as well as webbed feet to help them swim. The shell of the black pond turtle is a dark brown or blackish colour, marked with various yellow spots and radiating streaks. Their average maximum shell length is 16 inches long.

8. Pig-Nosed Turtle

Weird Turtles Pig-Nosed Turtle (Carettochelys insculpta)
Pig-Nosed Turtle

Scientific Name:  Carettochelys insculpta
Geographic Range: 
Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Around 38 Years
Conservation Status: 

The unique looking pig-nosed turtle definitely deserves its spot on our list of uniquely weird turtles. They are occasionally also referred to as pitted-shelled turtles or Fly River turtles, and are a species of turtle native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea. They are omnivorous freshwater turtles, that feed on a large variety of plant and animal matter including: fruit and leaves of figs, crustaceans, mollusks, and insects.

The pig-nosed turtle has quite a few things that make in a unique turtle. Despite being a freshwater turtle, its feet are flippers which is typically only seen in marine turtles. Their nose resembles that of a pig, which is where their common name is derived from. The shell of the turtle is usually a grey or olive colour, and has a leathery texture to it. The plastron (underside) of the turtle is cream coloured. Males can be distinguished from females due to their longer and narrower tails. Pig-nosed turtles can grow to about 28 inches in shell length, and weigh around 44 pounds.

9. Malayan Softshell Turtle

Malayan Softshell Turtle (Dogania subplana)
Malayan Softshell Turtle

Scientific Name: Dogania subplana
Geographic Range: 
Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore
Could Not Find
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern

The Malayan softshell turtle is a turtle that is from the softshell turtle family. They prefer to live in clean running water which is found in rocky streams at higher elevations. Their main diet consists of snails and other mollusks, crushing their shells with its powerful jaws.

On average, adult Malayan softshell turtles have a shell length of 13.7 inches. They have a large and muscular head, with a flat shell that has generally straight sides. Their nose is long and tapered as is common for these typed of turtles. Young Malayan softshell turtles are reddish on the sides of their neck, with a few round black spots on their shell. As the turtles age, these markings become softer and more obscure. As adults, their colouration is generally a medium to dark brown-green.

10. Spiny Turtle

weird Turtles - Spiny Turtle (Heosemys spinosa)
Spiny Turtle

Scientific Name:  Heosemys spinosa
Geographic Range: 
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand
20+ Years
Conservation Status: 

Last (but not least!) on our list of uniquely weird turtles is the amazing spiny turtle. The spiny turtle is a turtle that inhabits lowland and hill rainforests, usually in the vicinity of small streams. They are mainly found in hilly areas up to 900 m above sea level.

One look at this turtle, and the inspiration for their common name is pretty obvious. The shell of this turtle is covered in keeled, sharp, spiky points, that jut out around the whole shell. It is thought that they have these spikes to deter predators from trying to prey on them, as the sharp spikes would surely hurt. However, the sharp and spiky shell does get worn down with age, so larger, older, turtles tend to have a smoother shells than the juveniles do.

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