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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2021

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Black Marsh Terrapin
   
   

Fig 1
 


Fig 2


Fig 3
 


Fig 4

 

 

Family : GEOEMYDIDAE
Species : Siebenrockiella crassicollis
Maximum carapace length : 20 cm

Also charmingly known as the 'Smiling Terrapin', on account of the upwardly curved jaw line, this secretive species inhabits the vegetated shallow margins of quiet streams, canals, ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Reaching just 20 cm in size, this is one of the region's smallest terrapins.

The domed carapace, plastron, limbs and head are brownish black to black. In juveniles and adult females there are pale yellow to white patches above the eye, near the cheek, beneath the lower jaw and at the side of the head, but these features are lost in adult males.

The species typically feeds on frogs, freshwater prawns, worms and snails, as well as carrion. The specimen in Figures 1 and 2 was observed feeding on a fallen forest fruit, which is unusual for the species.

The Black Marsh Terrapin ranges from Myanmar, Thailand and Indochina through Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to Borneo, Sumatra and Java. Feral introduced populations may occur in some areas.


Figs 1 and 2 : Adult male, lacking pale markings on the head, from a shallow stream feeding freshwater swamp forest in Singapore. It was observed feeding on a seed of a Nothaphoebe sp. tree.

Figs 3 and 4 : Adult female, with typical pale head markings, seen at the margin of Upper Peirce Reservoir, Singapore.


References : H1, H2, H3