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Black-breasted Leaf Turtle

Geoemyda spengleri

Did you know?

  • The black-breasted leaf turtle is part of the Geoemydidae family, which they share with many other turtle species from Asia.
  • They are named for the brownish-black coloration on their belly, which looks like a leaf and aids in camouflage.
  • They are also called the Vietnamese leaf turtle or the black-breasted hill turtle.
  • They live in forested hillsides and occasionally freshwater streams in southern China, Vietnam, and Laos.
  • They are one of the smallest turtle species.


A lot of information is still unknown about this species. One of the most notable features of black-breasted leaf turtles are their large, protruding eyes and white irises, which give the turtles alert expressions. They are able to move their eyes separately from each other, like chameleons. Their shell has three ridges, helping them camouflage like a leaf.


This species is sexually dimorphic, which means males and females look distinctly different. Adult males have white irises and a longer, thicker tail than that of the females. Females tend to have a more striped pattern on the head.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


The Black-breasted Leaf Turtle faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.


Southern China through Vietnam, and Laos


Terrestrial, forested hillsides, and occasionally freshwater streams

We care about black-breasted leaf turtles

Black-breasted leaf turtles suffer from over-hunting by people. These small, attractive, charismatic turtles are primarily caught for the pet trade.

The Saint Louis Zoo manages the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan and studbook for this species, and we have successfully hatched this species several times. We support black-breasted leaf turtles in the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium at the Zoo. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world.

Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in Historic Hill


Historic Hill

Historic Hill is a lovely stroll through one of the oldest parts of the Saint Louis Zoo. From the 1904 World’s Fair Flight Cage to the Spanish architectural flavor of the 1920s in the Bird House, Primate House and Herpetarium to the finishing touches of our thoroughly modern exhibits, this area of the Zoo has a unique ambiance and a nostalgic history that make it a great destination.

Explore Historic Hill