Species list and distribution of non-native freshwater turtles in Hong Kong

Yik Hei SUNG, Wing Ho LEE, Michael Wai Neng LAU, Anthony LAU, Paulina P. Y. WONG, Caroline DINGLE, Ho Yee YEUNG, Jonathan J. FONG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Freshwater turtles have been introduced to a diversity of environments worldwide, sometimes leading to devastating impacts on native biodiversity and ecosystems. Documentation of species and distribution of non-native turtles is needed to effectively manage potentially invasive turtles. Here, we compiled a species list and distribution map of non-native turtles found in Hong Kong by combining field survey data, anecdotal records made by naturalists, and citizen science data. We collected 696 records, involving 25 pure species and three putative hybrids distributed widely throughout Hong Kong. The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species, was the most frequently recorded species. Most, if not all, non-native turtles were probably released intentionally, as abandoned pets or in religious release. We urge for strengthening legal regulation and developing measures to stop intentional release, particularly religious release.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-968
Number of pages9
JournalBioInvasions Records
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Thanks to Bosco Chan, Wing Sing Chan, Stephan Gale, Pan Lau, Philip Lo, Ray So, Jay Wan, Lag Wan, and Tommy Hui for providing sighting data. We thanks two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped improve the manuscript.

Funding declaration
This project was funded by Environment and Conservation Fund, Hong Kong Government
(Project no. ECF 2017-04). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

We obtained a permit to conduct turtle surveys from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong Government (AF GR CON 09/51 Pt.6).


  • Checklist
  • Chelonians
  • Hybrids
  • Invasive species
  • Mercy release
  • Wildlife trade


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