Monday, August 23, 2010

An Indian Black Turtle Juvenile

Indian Black Turtle or Indian Pond Terrapin Me...Image by roosterfeather via FlickrThis little tortoise was crawling a neighborhood garden when I saw it. After taking some quick photos and video I set it free in to a stream in a nearby rice field. It was so small that two of the same size could  easily have fitted in to my palm .
The link at the end of the post says that  Indian Black Turtle or Indian Pond Terrapin (Melanochelys trijuga) is limited to the northern low wet and dry zone parts in Sri Lanka, but I've seen them often in the western province too, where there is still or slow flowing   fresh water such as rice fields, ponds, rain-filled old granite mines etc. 
Indian Black Turtle or Indian Pond Terrapin Me...Image by roosterfeather via Flickr
 It's said that these tortoises are near threatened. One factor which may contribute to that in Sri Lanka is  that people have a taste for it's meat. Some people hunt these and some times these critters bite on fishing bait get themselves caught. 
 ndian Black Turtle or Indian Pond Terrapin Mel...Image by roosterfeather via Flickr

This link here   provides a whole lot more information on  Indian Black Turtle.


 PS-Hi all, Looks like my identification of this animal is not entirely correct,as my  friend Bushana says in his comment. I'll quote him here in case you don't notice it.

"............What you have photographed here is Spotted black turtle(Melanochelys trijuga thermalis) a sub species with a face with bright red, orange or yellow spots. This subspecies has wide distribution in Sri Lanka(It doesnot imply that it is common) and specimens were reported from varies places throughout the country such as Colombo, Jaffna, Trinco, Kandy,Anuradhapura, Tissamaharama, Kalpitiya, Welimada..etc. Other subspecies M.t.parkeri or Parker's Black turtle -comparatively larger than this one and no color spots on the face- is restricted to Northern part of the country. So as a species it is distributed throughout whole island in suitable habitats contrary to what it is said in the link you have given above............"

Thanks Bushana!
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16 comments:

  1. The Turtle looks very similar to the ones we have here in Japan......

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  2. Hi Stu, it might not be the same species though,it's said to be a South Asian turtle.

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  3. Cute fellow. Its a shame that they most often end up in someone's pot!

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  4. Excellent capture. Never seen this cute fellow before.

    BTW How do you differentiate turtles and tortoises?

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  5. Hi Tom, What's even more shameful is that people kill wild animals for food where there is so much poultry in the market,if they do want to eat meat!

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  6. Hi Kiri, Thanks,I'm surprised you haven't seen 'em 'afore. If you live in western province,try some place like Bellanwila and keep your eye on a water pool,they surface to breath from time to time,and follow these links and you'll be able to sort between the turtle and tortoise,actually it's not only their biology but also the kind of English used that determines which is which.

    Tortoise

    Turtle

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  7. Hi Amila
    What you have photographed here is Spotted black turtle(Melanochelys trijuga thermalis) a sub species with a face with bright red, orange or yellow spots. This subspecies has wide distribution in Sri Lanka(It doesnot imply that it is common) and specimens were reported from varies places throughout the country such as Colombo, Jaffna, Trinco, Kandy,Anuradhapura, Tissamaharama, Kalpitiya, Welimada..etc. Other subspecies M.t.parkeri or Parker's Black turtle -comparatively larger than this one and no color spots on the face- is restricted to Northern part of the country. So as a species it is distributed throughout whole island in suitable habitats contrary to what it is said in the link you have given above.

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  8. Hi Bushana,thank you very much for that very interesting information,mate.I'm gonna quote you in the post right away.

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  9. Hi Amila
    Thanks for quoting me in your post but anyway it seems you have bit misunderstood what I said :). You have correctly identified it up to species level and most of the time it is more than enough for general fauna/flora identification. I went one step more and described it up to subspecies level which most of the time we ignore since without actual capturing and getting measurements and such like things we cant exactly distinguished one from other subspecies of same species. But in this case it is more prominent due to those red/yellow spots in its face.

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  10. Hi Bushana, No my friend,I didn't misunderstand you, it was my English!:-) As for those spots, I thought it was a feature of juveniles.

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  11. Really liked your post about this tortoise. Such a cute little thing! Great pictures. Really enjoyed, thanks for sharing.

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  12. Hi Pawzy, happy to see you on my blog,pleas do visit again!

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  13. What a cutie you had on your hands there! About how big (lbs or kgs) do they get? Are there preservation laws such as times of the year or size guidelines that dictate what is acceptable to hunt & eat?

    I've heard that turtle is delicious, but never had the opportunity to try it. I'd certainly pass if it was in any way endangered or threatened, though. Perhaps farm-raised specifically for culinary pleasures would be another story, though. :q

    In Brazil, although it is illegal to poach turtles… it is, unfortunately, very commonplace.

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  14. Hi Amaris,
    I don't know exactly the average weight of a grown up adult of this species,my friend Bushana who has commented above will most probably know. Yes they are protected,and if I'm not mistaken,one could be fined even for possessing a live specimen,period. But despite the rules and regulations poaching still happens here too,but I wouldn't imply it's common.

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