Behavior

Surprisingly little is known about the behavior of these turtles. They frequently bask at the water's edge, and several species make extensive overland movements during the wet season. During the dry season, many species estivate underground. In the temperate climates of southern Africa, they will hibernate terrestrially or aquatically. When captured, they produce a pungent musk from glands located near the bridges (bony structures that connect the plastron and carapace).

An East African black mud turtle (Pelusios subniger) in Nigeria. Side-neck turtles fold their necks to the side under their shells for concealment, rather than draw their heads straight back into the shell, as do straight necked turtles. (Photo by P. Ward. Bruce Coleman. Reproduced by permission.)

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