The behavior of these turtles is highly variable. Some species are almost totally aquatic, migratory, and riverine, leaving the water only to nest colonially on seasonally inundated midstream sandbars. Others inhabit smaller tributaries or flooded forest pools, nesting in groups on sandy river banks; and one species (Podocnemis vogli) inhabits streams and ponds, migrates considerable distances overland to nest, and even estivates underground when the aquatic habitat dries up. Some species (and mainly females) are known to bask.

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