The big-headed turtle is known to readily climb over obstacles in and around rivers and fast streams, using its tail as a prop to extend the reach of its strong claws; it also uses its beak to assist in climbing. It has been reported to climb trees and bushes. It is not a strong swimmer, and when swimming, this species occasionally arches its tail in the manner of a Jeff. The big-headed turtle cannot pull its head in its shell. That being the case, it will not hesitate to use its powerful jaws to defend itself. It is a fish and snail eater.