Brunei Darussalam


“If you were in Australia, you might call all of the turtles ‘tortoises,’ and in Britain, a ‘turtle’ would mean a saltwater species and a ‘terrapin’ would be a freshwater species. Are you confused yet? Good, so am I. So for the purpose of this article, let us call the species that live on land, tortoises and the species that are aquatic or partially aquatic, turtles. We will forget about the term terrapin for now.” — Animal Planet Reptile Guide

I began taking photos of our pet turtles only after they’ve grown much bigger from when they just about the size of two casino chips. Sadly one of them died from a mystery illness that wasn’t physically obvious other than its loss of appetite. From the beginning when we brought them home from the pet store, we had become very fond of the pair so today, we’ve grown more attached to the lone survivor that has grown to palm size. I am glad I made the effort to photograph them when the two kept each company in the tank that we’ve had to change as they grew bigger. I had kept these for sometime now and often wondered in some degree of despair whether I would ever get them published. The Penang Turtle Sanctuary post before this gave me the push I needed to make this publication happen.

Early pictures of our turtle performing a balancing act on a prop. [Facebook album]

Turtles are born with an acrobatic ability to stack on one another. It’s quite entertaining to watch when you walk into a pet store and see the tiny turtles on top of one another!
The cautious pair, always on their guard wondering what I’m up to with 5D II and 100mm Macro lens
I’ve always wondered how animals that can’t communicate in more obvious ways communicate with one another such as their display of affection and so forth.
A possible courtship ritual I noticed when the pair would occasionally point their fluttering hands towards each other. This can also be interpreted as a sign of sign of aggression or stress.
Portrait of the survivor! Love the extremely shallow dept-of-field from the 100mm f/2.8 Hybrid L macro.
Turtle looking at the food pellets that float past carried by the water current.
Turtle climbs onto a dry basking area to catch some heat its body requires from time to time.
Under an incandescent lamp for heat, turtles bask to heat up its body temperature. They occasionally stretch out their feet like this to absorb more of the radiated heat.
Turtle playfully surrounds itself with bubbles generated by the splashing water from the filter.
Turtle pushes a food pellet into his mouth, a lucky moment that’s often too fast to be properly captured.

All photos here captured using Canon’s EF 100mm f2.8 L Hybrid Macro


  1. Lovely documentary. Growing up in artificial environments, these creatures do become bonded to their new masters. In this gallery, I notice how calm and composed these “turtles” are, giving you advantage of capturing them at their best “behaviour”. Very nice specimens, both of them.

    Oh, I love photo #3. So kissey-lovey. :p


  2. Lovely photos Jan. I love to have a pair of these in Australia…..unfortunately I can’t as they are considered pests and the closest one I have come across was at Perth Zoo. I love photo 3 & 4 (from top down).


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