Although big-headed turtles have not been well studied in the wild, they appear to be primarily nocturnal and crepuscular (active at twilight), spending the day under rocks or logs. When disturbed, they bite viciously. Their climbing ability is incredible, no doubt an advantage when clambering over rocks in fast-flowing streams. In captivity they have even been known to climb over wire fences and up window curtains to the ceiling. When molested in captivity these turtles are known to produce squeal-like noises. They apparently hibernate in the northern portion of their range, and there is speculation that they might hibernate terrestrially.

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