Are Softshell Turtles Endangered?

Are Softshell Turtles Endangered

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Have you ever wondered if softshell turtles are endangered or not? This is one of the basic questions we, turtles lovers, should care about, but we don’t. We only focus on raising the pet and do not even think about the species’ conservation status. Take the softshell turtles, for instance.

Most of the subspecies of the softshell turtle are rare and vulnerable. It makes the softshell turtle an endangered species.

Which subspecies of the softshell turtles are endangered? Why are they at the edge of extinction? What can you do to save them? If you have the slightest curiosity about these questions, give this article a read.

The Conservation Status Of Softshell Turtles

I have mentioned earlier that most of the subspecies of the softshell turtles are rare and endangered. In the following chart, I will show you which species are at the edge of extinction.

Softshell Turtle SubspeciesConservation StatusAdditional Information
Spiny softshell turtleEndangeredThe spiny softshell turtles are listed endangered in Quebec and Ontario, the cities of Canada. The probable reasons behind this condition are the loss of habitat, scarcity of food, and poaching. Though the subspecies is not considered endangered in the United States of America, it faces wild threats every day.
Florida softshell turtleLeast concernIt is good news that the Florida softshell turtles are found abundantly in the freshwater sources. No states have yet enlisted this subspecies as endangered.
Smooth softshell turtleLeast concernThe experts claim that the smooth softshell species is not endangered. But in some regions, the subspecies is facing some wildlife threats. Habitat loss, scarcity of food, and human disturbance are the main threats for the wild smooth softshell turtles.
Chinese softshell turtleVulnerableThe population of the Chinese softshell turtle is decreasing day by day. Though the natural habitat of the species in China, you can find it worldwide.
Asiatic softshell turtleVulnerableYou can also call this turtle the Black rayed softshell turtle. This species is mainly found in Asian countries. The Asiatic softshell turtles are facing wildlife threats, and as a result, it is going towards the edge of extinction.
Malayan softshell turtleLeast concernThe Malayan softshell turtles are not enlisted in the endangered list. But as the pollution rate is increasing day by day, this species can soon start losing its habitat.
Yangtze softshell turtleCritically endangered/rareCritically endangered means virtually there no Yangtze softshell turtle in the wild. Some sources claim that there are only 3 to 4 turtles of this species left on the earth. The reasons behind the Yangtze softshell turtles’ endangerment are habitat loss, use of its bone, and carapace in the medicine industry, and poaching.
Asian giant softshell turtleEndangeredIUCN has listed the Asian giant softshell turtles as globally endangered. The turtles were last seen in 2003. The light of hope is recently, around 444 eggs of this rare species have been found in Cambodia.
Indian Softshell TurtleVulnerableThe Indian softshell turtles are mainly found in the Gangas, Indus, and Mahanandi rivers. Once upon a time, there were abundant amounts of Indian softshell turtles in those areas. But as the rivers are getting polluted, this species is approaching extinction.
Black softshell turtleExtinct in the wild/critically endangeredThere are a few black softshell turtles left in the world. People haven’t seen a single one of these subspecies in the wild over the last few years.
Indian narrow headed softshell turtleEndangeredThe population of the Indian narrow headed softshell turtles has decreased due to habitat loss and pollution.
African softshell turtleNot extinctIt is good news that despite facing rough weather and the environment, the African softshell turtles are still fighting to survive.
Euphrates softshell turtleEndangeredThe IUCN has enlisted the Euphrates softshell species as endangered or threatened. You may find these turtles in Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. The population of this subspecies is decreasing due to the habitat destruction.
Leith’s softshell turtleEndangeredThis species has been listed as endangered very recently. The native habitat of the Leith’s softshell turtles is in India.  
New Guiena giant softshell turtleVulnerableThere are a considerable number of New Guinea giant softshell turtles. But some village hunters are making the turtles’ life miserable, and the turtle population is decreasing.
Asian narrow headed softshell turtleCritically endangeredThe IUCN has listed this beautiful species as critically endangered. Unfortunately, a few of these turtles are left in the world.
Burmese peacock softshell turtleEndangeredAccording to a report of 2011, the total population of the Burmese peacock softshell turtle is decreasing drastically.
Indian peacock softshell turtleVulnerableThe Indian peacock softshell turtles have been a victim of habitat loss. With the help of the concerned authority, this species can be saved. 

One species which is rare in one region can be found easily in another state. But if the species is at the edge of extinction, it is called globally endangered. The vulnerable state indicates that the population of one subspecies is decreasing day by day. The authorities can still save them from extinction with proper action.

You can learn more about rare turtles from this article.

Why Are The Softshell Turtles Endangered?

This is a valid and most important thing each turtle lover should know. The softshell turtles are endangered because of the reasons given below:

  1. Habitat loss
  2. Pollution
  3. Poaching
  4. Illegal pet trade

Let’s discuss each point one by one.

Habitat Loss

Habitat loss is one of the main reasons why the softshell turtles are disappearing from the wild. Like most other turtle species, the softshell turtles also prefer living away from human contact. As the world population is increasing, many industries are cutting down forests and filling up freshwater sources to develop their buildings.

Again, when the turtles feel human disturbance, they start leaving the area and look for a new home. So, human disturbance and habitat destruction are responsible for the endangerment of the softshell turtles.


We know our world is getting polluted day by day. Most of the freshwater sources are filled with industrial chemicals and wastes. Softshell turtles living in the wild are aquatic and can not live without the freshwater.

As the water sources are getting polluted, it is becoming poisonous for the turtles. Most of the softshell turtles fall sick and die early due to the contaminated water. You will be surprised to know that many of the softshell turtle subspecies have been endangered just because of it.


Turtle poaching can be a new term for some of you. So, I will explain it in simple words. I think you know that softshell turtles are considered as one of the tastiest wild dishes. In many countries and coastal areas, people celebrate their occasions and main events with softshell turtle feast.

With the increasing demand of the softshell turtle’s meat, different farms have started harvesting them. The farms in China export softshell turtles all over the world. The species is not only used for dishes but also for making medicines. There is a demand for softshell turtle bones and shells in making some expensive meds.

Do not think harvesting softshell turtles can save the species from extinction. No, it actually affects the negative direction. The pure lineage of one subspecies gets lost, and eventually, the subspecies will disappear.

Again, in some areas, people go on camping, trap softshell turtles, and eat them. All these things create pressure on the wild population of the softshell turtle. This is one of the main reasons why the species is approaching extinction.

Check this article to learn more about softshell turtle poaching.

Illegal Pet Trade

Buying your softshell turtle from any pet shop is not appreciable. You must buy from the authorized shops even if the price is a little high. Why?

You know the wild turtles can not be a good pet. So, you need a captive bred to raise in the tank. Some illegal sellers catch softshell turtles from the wild and sell them at a low rate. This act should not be encouraged at all. And also, picking turtles from the wild is another reason why the species is endangered.

Can We Save The Threatened Softshell Turtles?

Saving some of the softshell turtle subspecies, such as the Yangtze or the Black one will be tough. But with proper actions, we can still save the others. The concerned authorities need to take immediate and effective steps in this regard.

The good news is the trade and wildlife protection authorities have already passed laws to save the softshell turtles. In the USA, you can not pick up softshell turtles from the wild. If you want to sell, import, or export the species, you need permission and license from the higher authorities.

As an individual, you can also contribute your support to this movement. Do not buy a pet softshell turtle from the black market or illegal shops to save money. Discourage people from eating the meat of softshell turtles or hunting them down.


Most of the softshell turtle subspecies are endangered, and some of them are extremely rare. It is high time we came forward to save the species. If they disappear from the wild, it will affect our ecosystem badly.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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