10 largest turtles in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Turtles are among the most ancient reptiles on our planet. This species appeared over 200 million years ago and existed simultaneously with dinosaurs. Unlike the latter, turtles turned out to be much better adapted to changes in habitat conditions and have survived to our time. A significant role in this was played by the unique protection in the form of a shell, which protects the body of the reptile from any danger, be it predators or adverse natural influences. The body of turtles is also special for this class of animals – their life expectancy can exceed 200 years. They have keen eyesight, moreover, their eyes perceive almost the entire spectrum of colors. Turtles are usually divided by their habitat: land, sea and freshwater.

Among these reptiles, there are both small and very large species. The largest in history were the Archelon turtles, which lived during the Cretaceous period – their body length reached 4.6 meters, and they weighed more than two tons. These giants have long become extinct, but some of the modern species of turtles (and there are more than 320 of them) are also capable of surprising with their size.

Ranking The largest turtles in the world

Nomination a place name Length Weight
Ranking The largest turtles in the world 10 Snapping turtle 35 cm. 30 kg.
9 Pond slider 37 CM.
8 Fringed turtle 40 CM. 15 KG.
7 Spurred turtle 80 CM. 100 KG.
6 Arrau 100 CM. 70 KG.
5 Gigantic turtle 120 CM. 200 KG.
4 Vulture turtle 150 CM. 80 KG.
3 Green turtle 150 CM. 200 KG.
2 Elephant turtle 180 CM. 400 KG.
1 Leatherback turtle 260 CM. 900 KG.

10th place – snapping turtle

Rating: 4.1

Snapping turtle

This species is found in southern Canada, in the central and eastern United States. Individuals weigh from 14 to 30 kilograms, the length of the shell is about 35 centimeters. Cayman turtles, or as they are also called, biting turtles have a large, sharp and strong beak, allowing them to bite even bones. Animals are known for their aggressiveness – when they feel threatened, they actively defend themselves, stretching their heads on a long neck and trying to bite the attacker. Turtles live in freshwater bodies of water: lakes or rivers with a slow current. Their main food source is fish, frogs, shrimps and other small animals. Too slow to keep up with prey, the snapping turtle attacks its prey from an ambush, tearing it apart with its beak and claws, or swallowing it whole. In the cold season, they go into deep hibernation, burrowing into silt at the bottom of the reservoir.

9th place – Red-eared turtle

Rating: 4.2

Pond slider

Red-eared turtles have a variegated green or olive color, they got their name due to bright red (sometimes yellow-red) spots behind the eyes, resembling ears. The body length of females, which are larger than males, reaches 37 centimeters. Turtles are widespread in North and South America, they are also found in Southeast Asia, Africa and warm European countries. In Australia, they are recognized as pests for displacing local endemic reptile species. Turtles prefer to settle in swampy bodies of water, lead a sedentary semi-aquatic lifestyle. Young individuals hunt much more often, they catch small fish, crustaceans, frogs, molluscs, insects, mice. The diet of adult red-eared turtles consists mostly of plant foods. They differ in curiosity, but at the same time they are extremely careful – noticing a potential danger from a distance of 40 meters, they immediately slip into the water.

8th place – Fringed turtle

Rating: 4.3

Fringed turtle

A large representative of the order of snake-necked turtles, it has a flattened triangular head, small close-set eyes and a long neck with rows of small leather spikes. Such a bizarre appearance, combined with a gray-brown color, allows the fringed turtle to successfully mimic a dazed wooden snag, hiding in close proximity to prey. The weight of adults is about 15 kilograms, the length of the shell is up to 40 centimeters. The habitat includes more than a dozen countries in South America, in addition, it is found in Florida, USA. The fringed turtle or matamata, as the locals call it, is aquatic, living in muddy lakes, ponds and slow-flowing rivers. It hunts most often at night, catching fish, mollusks and tadpoles, swallowing them whole. If the reservoir dries up, matamata burrow deep into the silt at the bottom, hibernating until the rainy season begins.

7th place – Spurred turtle

Rating: 4.4

Spurred turtle

The spurred turtle lives in deserts and savannas on the territory of the African continent. It has a shell that is more than 80 centimeters long and weighs more than 100 kilograms. The turtle owes its name to large spurs located on the hips of the hind limbs, which are necessary primarily for digging holes. Underground tunnels up to four meters deep and 15 meters long are necessary to shelter from the heat of the day, as the air temperature rises above 40 degrees Celsius in the desert. At the same time, the thermometer sometimes drops to 3 degrees at night. Young turtles usually do not build their own shelters, but use abandoned burrows of rodents. These animals are most active in the morning and evening – then they are looking for sources of food. As such, rare desert vegetation usually acts, sometimes insects supplement the diet. The mating season is characterized by long ritual battles for the female, which often end in the death of one of the rivals.

6th place – Arrau

Rating: 4.5


Arrau or Tartaruga inhabit the countries of South America, most often they can be found in the basins of deep rivers such as the Amazon, in lagoons and large forest ponds. They belong to the order of side-necked turtles, they have a characteristic oblong groove between the eyes. Sexual dimorphism is clearly expressed – females differ in the shape of the shell and more impressive size. Large individuals grow up to a meter in length, weighing about 70 kilograms. Reptiles spend most of their time in the aquatic environment, where they find food for themselves. They eat aquatic plants, fallen fruits of trees, and also catch small fish. Turtles do not hibernate, remaining active throughout the year. Arrau often fall prey to predators as they are deaf.

5th place – Giant turtle

Rating: 4.6

Gigantic turtle

Another name for the species is the Seychelles giant tortoise. She has a large, high carapace and strong pillar-like legs, making her 60-80 centimeters tall. Adult turtles grow up to 120 centimeters in length and weigh more than two hundred kilograms. It is endemic to the island of Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, there is a population of about 150 thousand individuals. There are several other small colonies that are settled on other islands of the archipelago. Giant turtles are rare species and are protected by law. On their home island, active economic activities, large types of construction are prohibited. A special nursery has been created, where the pups are provided with constant care and nutrition, and at the age of five they are released into the wild. Most of the day, adult turtles are busy looking for food, the diet includes leaves, various plants, fallen fruits. Getting food, they can stand on their hind legs and even interact with each other, building tall living “pyramids”. Seychelles giant turtles are long-lived, some of them living up to 150 years.

4th place – Vulture turtle

Rating: 4.7

Vulture turtle

Vulture turtles live in the United States, inhabiting lakes, rivers, ponds, canals of the southeastern states, and are often found in swampy tributaries of the Mississippi River. Outwardly, they are similar to the Cayman, but differ in size, a longer beak, wide-set eyes and the shape of a shell. The latter has rows of sawtooth ridges, its length reaches one and a half meters. The adults weigh about 80 kilograms and are the largest freshwater turtles in the world. The habitat is reservoirs with a muddy bottom and dense vegetation. They feed on fish, crayfish, snails and other medium-sized aquatic inhabitants. Turtles hunt, waiting for prey at the bottom, among algae, and a special red outgrowth on the tongue, similar to a bright worm, serves as a bait. Males lead an exclusively aquatic lifestyle, females occasionally go to land, but only to lay eggs.

3rd place – Green turtle

Rating: 4.8

Green turtle

The green or soup turtle is found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. It has an oval carapace, its length often exceeds 150 centimeters. The head of the reptile is covered with hard shields, the eyes are large, almond-shaped. Turtles can weigh about 200 kilograms, although there are also larger representatives of the species. Adults feed on plant food, usually live in coastal waters, in places where there are underwater caves and grottoes that serve as shelters from predators. Young turtles live in the open sea, and their diet includes not only vegetation, but also jellyfish, crustaceans, plankton and molluscs. They prefer a solitary lifestyle. Green turtles rarely come ashore, only when it is time to lay their eggs.

2nd place – elephant turtle

Rating: 4.9

Elephant turtle

Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, the largest land tortoise on the planet. They grow about 180 centimeters in length, and their weight reaches 400 kilograms. Depending on the subspecies, the shell can be dome-shaped or saddle-shaped. Elephant or Galapagos turtles live for a long time, over a hundred years. They feed on plant foods, while they are extremely unpretentious – they eat everything, from juicy fruits to cacti, shrubs and poisonous plants. They usually settle in thickets near trees, where they can easily hide from predators. Turtles are distinguished by their endurance, they can do for several months without water and food, consuming their own fat reserves. From time to time they migrate in search of places with more dense vegetation.

1st place – Leatherback turtle

Rating: 5.0

Leatherback turtle

The largest turtle in the world belongs to the family of sea turtles, this species appeared on Earth almost a million years ago. Inhabits the waters of most seas and all oceans, with the exception of the Arctic. The structure of the shell is very different from other turtles. It consists of intergrown solid leather plates with well-defined longitudinal ridges. The length of the body in some cases exceeds 2.6 meters, while the weight is 900 kilograms. On land, leatherback turtles are slow and clumsy, but in the water, thanks to their teardrop-shaped aerodynamic shape and huge fins up to three meters wide, they can reach speeds of 35 kilometers per hour. The diet includes jellyfish, molluscs, crustaceans, young fish and other inhabitants of deep water. In search of food, turtles can travel considerable distances; cases are known when they swam up to 20,000 kilometers. They prefer warm tropical waters, but if necessary, the leatherback turtle can survive in cold waters, maintaining the necessary body temperature.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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