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Sidenecked turtles or terrapins on Nkorho

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cerinthe's picture
Joined: Oct 16 2005
Sidenecked turtles or terrapins on Nkorho

"Rick M" wrote:
I am curious why everyone calls the "Sideneck Turtles" terrapins when posting sightings or photos? I've shown the pictures to a couple of people that really (I mean really) know turtles, etc. and they both agreed that they are most likely (non-native) New Guinea Sideneck Turtles or a similar Indo-Pacific sub species. The closest African Sub-Species have very high shell domes compared to these. It's very possible we are missing something in the photos though.
I found this a very interesting observation and would like to know if it is true? Was sidenecked turtles introduced to SA at some point and why? Or are they a South African indemic species we see here? Thanks for the question Rick

DrSnuggles's picture
Joined: Jan 26 2007

Hello Wildlife campus,

regarding the word "non endemic".

Terrapines, or Fresh water turtles, do walk long distances over land, especcially in the wet season.

I guess, emigrated Aliens will, sooner, or later , take over, as long they are stronger than the existing local species.

I took following Photos , also in Mali, West Africa in 07/2005, close to the Senegal Border.

This here is (according to the DGHT, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Herpetologie und Terrarienkunde) a Pelomedusa subrufa olivacea

Estimated 15 Years old.

I found this Animal about 3 km from the Main Water source there, the Faleme River.(Border River to the Senegal)
But , due to the Heavy Rains in June, July, August, Waterpuddles were everywhere.

Here are the Photos :

Take my Hand and Shoes as scale (Size 12 :shock: )

All Pics are linked, just click on it

The Terrapine was also released out of the Eyes of the local population, as it displays a full substantial meal.

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for this info Todd - and I am looking forward to the launch of your new course as I particularly enjoy learning about snakes and reptiles.

Anonymous's picture

The first distinction to be made is that African herpetologist taxonomists differentiate the Chelonia (shield reptiles) into tortoises being terrestrial, turtles being marine and terrapins being fresh water species. North American herpetologists use the terms freshwater turtle and saltwater turtle.

The terrapin species endemic to the Lowveld include:
Helmeted Terrapin: - Pelomedusa subrufa
Pan Hinged Terrapin: - Pelusios subnige
Serrated Hinged Terrapin: - Pelusios sinuatus

In terms of introduced species, we have the Red-Eared Terrapin: - Trachemys scripta elegans

This is an exotic species negligently introduced from North and Central America possibly together with tropical fish. They would then have been sold by irresponsible pet shops only to be released by their careless new owners once they became too large or difficult to keep. They are however not endemic to the Lowveld, only found in isolated pockets within Gauteng and around Durban, but they could occur elsewhere. Some known localities are Gemiston Lake, Zoo Lake, Boksburg Lake, Morealetta Spruit and the Hartebeespoort Dam.

WildlifeCampus is currently developing a new course in Advanced Snakes & Reptiles of the Lowveld

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