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Chinese Soft-shell Turtle

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3





Species : Pelodiscus spp.
Maximum Carapace Length : 32.5 cm

The Chinese Soft-shell Turtle was formerly considered a single species, namely Pelodiscus sinensis. Stuckas and Fritz (2011) assert, however, that this may be a complex of four separate species namely P. sinensis, P. axenaria, P. maackii and P. parviformis.

In their native habitat, these turtles occur in still waterbodies, such as ponds, lakes and marshes, as well as slow-flowing, lowland rivers.

They are an important food source in some Asian cuisines, and are extensively farmed. They have  been introduced to man-made, aquatic habitats in many parts of Southeast Asia.

They are predominantly aquatic in habits, and are rarely seen out of water. Their natural diet comprises a wide range of aquatic invertebrates, fishes and vegetation.

The carapace, which may reach a maximum length of 32.5 cm in P. maackii, is oval in shape. In adults it is smooth in texture, whilst juveniles may possess raised tubercles. The neck is long and thick with leathery skin, and the snout is pointed. The carapace is olive green to brownish green in colour, and may be plain, mottled or patterned with small, pale spots.

Pelodiscus turtles naturally occur in the Far East, including southern China, Korea, Japan and parts of eastern Russia. Within Southeast Asia they are native in Vietnam, but have also been introduced to Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Indonesia and the Philippines.

Figs 1 to 3 : Fully grown adult example from Singapore's central reservoirs, where Pelodiscus turtles have been widely introduced. This is the typical resting posture - with its body and feet resting on the substrate and its neck extended to the water's surface. This specimen is tentatively identified as Pelodiscus maackii, based on the abundant pale speckles on the carapace, limbs, head and neck.

References :

Fritz, U., Gong, S., Auer, M., Kuchling, G., Schneewei゚, N., & Hundsdrfer, A. K. (2010). The world痴 economically most important chelonians represent a diverse species complex (Testudines: Trionychidae: Pelodiscus). Organisms Diversity & Evolution, 10(3), 227-242.

Stuckas, H., & Fritz, U. (2011). Identity of Pelodiscus sinensis revealed by DNA sequences of an approximately 180‐year‐old type specimen and a taxonomic reappraisal of Pelodiscus species (Testudines: Trionychidae). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 49(4), 335-339.