Adults may attain a carapace length of 35 cm (13.7 in). The head is large and muscular. The carapace is flat, and has straight sides. Juveniles are reddish on the sides of the neck, and have a few round black spots (ocelli) on the carapace. These markings become obscure as the turtles age.
This turtle is a medium to dark brown-green. The nose is long and tapered as with members of the family, Trionychidae. It has eight pairs of pleuralia.
D. subplana prefers to live in the clean running water which is found in rocky streams at higher elevations.
It feeds on snails and other molluscs, crushing their shells with its powerful jaws.
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