The Mary River turtle is the most commonly known species of river turtle as they are the most popular freshwater turtles to keep as pets often in artificial aquariums or outside in ponds. The Mary River turtle is native to the Mary River found in Queensland, Australia and was once shipped to pet shops all over the world in the thousands as people liked them due to their small size.
The yellow-spotted river turtle is one of the largest species of river turtle found in South America. The yellow-spotted river turtle is found in the large lakes and tributaries of the Amazon Basin and are easily identified by the yellow spots (hence the name) on the side of their heads. The yellow spots of the yellow-spotted river turtle are much brighter in the younger individuals and tend to fade in brightness as the yellow-spotted river turtle matures.
There are a number of river turtle species that share the name of the giant river river turtle. With the exception of the Arrau river turtle which is a flat-shelled river turtle found in the Amazon, most of these giant river turtles are indigenous to south-east Asia. The mangrove terrapin is widely distributed across the continent but is today, critically endangered due to over-hunting and pollution. The giant Asian pond turtle is one of the largest of the river turtle species and is found inhabiting rivers and streams along with marshes and rice paddies throughout Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia.
Generally, most species of river turtle have an omnivorous diet that is primarily made up of aquatic plants, grasses and leaves. Many river turtle species also hunt fish and molluscs in the water along with small reptiles and amphibians.
Due to the relatively large size of the river turtle and the fact that it has a hard, protective shell, there are few animals that prey upon the river turtles themselves. Humans are the main predators of both the river turtle and it's eggs which are eaten as a royal delicacy in many of the river turtle's native regions. Other animals such as foxes. dogs, snakes, birds and even wild pigs eat the precious eggs of the river turtle that are buried in the sand.
As with other turtle and tortoise species, river turtles are fairly solitary animals but females can be seen gathering together in large groups on river banks to lay their eggs. River turtles can lay between 5 and 100 soft, leathery eggs depending on the species, which are buried in the sand by the female after she has laid them. After a couple of months, the baby river turtles hatch and make straight for the water. The average lifespan of the river turtle is about 30 years.
Due to excessive hunting and rising levels of pollution in the water, river turtles are extremely vulnerable animals many of which are today considered to be endangered or critically endangered. Programmes around the world have been seen up to try and protect the river turtles mainly from poachers who hunt them for their meat and eggs.