Black marsh turtle
This almost black turtle with a shell up to 20 cm long, inhabits all kinds of shallow water bodies surrounded by abundant vegetation, in South-east Asia, from Vietnam and Cambodia to the islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo. Its diet is carnivorous and eats small animals such as worms, slugs, snails, tadpoles, fish and aquatic invertebrates. It is currently endangered due to excessive hunting for human consumption, its use in traditional Chinese medicine and pet trade.
South-east Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar. Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Java and Borneo.
- Distribution / Resident
- Extint in the wild
- Critically endangered
- In Danger
- Near threatened
- Minor concern
- Insufficient data
- Not evaluated
Discover how they are
It has a practically uniform black, grey or dark brown colour, except for some white or pale yellow spots on the head. It has a relatively flat, oval-shaped shell, serrated on the rear edge and with a slight ridge that sometimes disappears as the turtle grows. It can measure up to 20 centimetres. The plastron is yellow with a dark pattern that increases with age, eventually covering completely the yellow hue. Its neck and limbs are also black.
It inhabits water bodies such as rivers, streams, lagoons, ponds, marshes and marshlands, preferably in areas with slow currents, soft bottoms and abundant vegetation.
Mainly carnivorous, the black turtle feeds on worms, snails, slugs, shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates, small fish and amphibians, as well as carrion from dead or dying animals and occasionally some plant.
It can lay eggs up to three or four times during the breeding period, which runs from April to June, one or two long eggs each time. Eggs are incubated for 68 to 84 days, after which tiny hatchlings emerge, with a shell measuring less than five centimetres.
It is an essentially aquatic species that spends most of the day in the water, often partially buried in the mud of the bottom. Most of the food is caught and ingested also underwater, although at night it can venture into land to feed or mate.
Its populations have decreased much during the last decades due to excessive hunting for the human consumption, its use in traditional Chinese medicine and the pet trade, and only small and isolated populations remain in much of its distribution area. The Zoo of Barcelona takes part in the European StudBook (ESB) of this species in captivity.