Yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle in exhibit

Yellow-spotted Amazon River Turtle

Scientific Name
Podocnemis unifilis
Geographic Range
Amazonian South America
Vegetation and Small Animals
Yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle Endangered Status Graph - Vulnerable Endangered Status Graph - Vulnerable

More Information

Yellow-spotted river turtles are among the largest turtles in South America. They are native to the Amazon River and its tributaries and get their name from yellow head markings found on males and juvenile females. They are otherwise gray. Females are larger, growing to 27 inches long and 6.5 pounds in weight.

These turtles are most active in mid-morning and afternoon. They tend to avoid fast-moving water. Males court females by nipping their feet and tails. Females lay 15–25 eggs in shallow nests dug into riverbanks, and those eggs are incubated for two months. Young yellow-spotted turtles are smaller than a quarter at birth.

Did You Know?

  • Yellow-spotted river turtles are side-necked turtles; they cannot hide their heads in their shells.
  • They are born with big yellow spots, but those shrink as the turtles grow. Females eventually lose their spots altogether.
  • These are long-lived turtles. Some have been known to live up to 70 years.


Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

Adopt an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.

Browse the Wish List

African penguin eating a fish

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Take Action

Empty Playlist