East African serrated mud turtle

Pelusios sinuatus

TAXONOMY

Sternotherus sinuatus Smith, 1838, "rivers to the north of 25° south latitude" [South Africa]. No subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Serrated hinged terrapin, serrated turtle; Afrikaans: Groot waterskilpad.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

These turtles are medium to large size, with a maximum shell length of 2.2 in (5.5 cm), and an elongate, oval, variably

keeled, posteriorly serrated carapace. The large, posteriorly notched plastron has a well-developed hinge between the pectoral and abdominal scutes, and the pair of meosplastral bones between the hyo- and hypoplastra are in contact on the mid-line. The anterior plastral lobe is relatively short, being less than twice as long as the interabdominal seam. A small axillary scute is present on each bridge.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern and southeastern Africa (southern Somalia to northeastern South Africa).

HABITAT

These turtles inhabit permanent rivers and lakes. BEHAVIOR

These turtles are most commonly seen basking on rocks, logs, or the shoreline. They inhabit permanent water, thus they apparently do not estivate. They are frequently eaten by the Nile crocodile.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This species is primarily carnivorous, feeding on earthworms, snails, insects, ticks (from the hides of wallowing ungulates), fish, frogs, and carrion. They also occasionally feed on aquatic plants, as well as fruits that fall into the water.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Very little is known about the natural history of this species. Females apparently nest during the summer, from at least October through January, and perhaps until April. Nests are dug by the female as far as 1,640 ft (500 m) from the water, and seven to 30 eggs, averaging 1.7 by 1 in (43 by 25 mm) and 0.7 oz (20 g), are laid in a clutch. Incubation takes only 48 days at 32-91.4°F (33°C). Hatchlings are most commonly seen after emergence in March and April.

CONSERVATION STATUS

This species is not listed internationally for protection; but the actual status has not been formally surveyed.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

These turtles are occasionally eaten by humans. ♦

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Responses

  • jo smallburrow
    What physical features does the african mud turtle live by?
    6 years ago

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