Giant Soft Shelled Turtle Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Giant Soft Shelled Turtle

Scientific Name:

Pelochelys cantorii

Wild Status:



Freshwater rivers and streams


Southeast Asia



Life Span:



Carapace Length: 28-39 inches; 220 lbs

Cool Facts:

  • This species is also known as Cantor's Giant softshell turtle and frog-face turtle.
  • It was believed to be extinct in the wild but it was rediscovered in Cambodia in 2007.
  • Scientists believe that the population of turtles we believe are Giant softshell turtles is actually comprised of a few different species.
  • Clutch sizes range from 24-70 eggs
  • It has been observed in brackish coastal waters, an unusual sighting for freshwater turtles.


The Giant soft shelled turtle is a freshwater turtle that lives in many areas in Southeast Asia. It is considered the largest extant freshwater turtle. It is known to be found in a wide range of Southeast Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia. While it is known o have a wide range, they have disappeared from most of its range. This species is omnivorous and feeds on a varied diet. Its dies consists of vegetation, as well as crabs, shrimp, molluscs, and fish. It has a broad , olive colored, carapace.  Some individuals, particularly juveniles, show yellow-coloring on the carapace edges and dark spots. They have a broad head that ends in a short snout. Its small, beady eyes rest close to its snout.  Its size is debate but believed that this species can grow to be 28-39 inches in length and up to 220 lbs.    

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Testudines Suborder: Cryptodira Family: Trionychidae Genus: Pelochelys Species: P. cantorii

Conservation & Helping:

The Giant softshell turtle is listen in the IUCN Red list as well as Appendix II of CITES. There are efforts to have this turtle reevaluated. It is believed to be more vulnerable. Local efforts have implemented watchers for poachers. These protectors focus on hatch-lings as they are the most vulnerable from poaching. Although they are sometime accidentally caught or killed by fisherman, the biggest threat is poachers that collect hem for trading and selling in Asian markets. Turtle are considered a delicacy in Asian countries, making them popular catches. Another vulnerability they are going to face is climate change. Females are very particular about when and where they lay their eggs. Changing climate conditions could make the conditions less than favorable for female turtles. If you purchase turtle meat, make sure the turtles are not endangered or threatened species and report any sightings of endangered species in markets or restaurants to appropriate law enforcement.

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