Status: Least Concern
Description: The serrated hinged terrapin are the largest hinged turtles. Females are larger than males. Males can also be distinguished by their slightly longer tails. They have very sharp claws for hunting and defense.
The Serrated Hinged Terrapin is the largest of the hinged terrapins. It has two main subspecies. Serrated Hinged Terrapins are so named because they have a hinge in their shell that they are able to close after pulling their head and front legs inward.
Length: up to 55 cm
Ecology and Behaviour
For defence, the hinged plastron (bottom shield or underside shell) of the serrated hinged terrapin closes to protect the head and forelimbs. The serrated hinged terrapin also secretes a foul odour when threatened.They are mostly preyed upon by crocodiles, monitor lizards, and the mongoose.
The serrated hinged terrapin is an carnivores that eats water snails, soft-weed, and insects. They will also consume carrion if available and have been known to eat ticks and parasites off of wallowing water buffalo.
The female serrated hinged terrapin lays seven to 25 eggs, up to 500 m away from the nearest water and buries them as deep into the ground as possible. Burying the eggs not only protects them from predators but also prevents the eggs from drying out in the sun. This happens in October to January. Hatchlings appear in March to April and grow rapidly.
It is categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as, " Least Concern " Although they are sometimes caught by fisherman and consumed by various peoples, overall, human activity has not affected their population.
Distribution and Habitat
The preferred natural habitats of Serrated hinged terrapin are tropical lakes and rivers, where it can often be seen basking on logs, rocks, or mud banks, or even on the backs of sleeping hippopotami. They can be found in Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Interaction with humans
Currently it is mainly threatened by widespread collection from the wild for the illegal international trade in the species. It is also collected by local peoples for food and human population growth in the area is putting pressure on the species. Human-induced fire is also a threat. In most Zambian cultures, turtles and tortoises are revered and respected by people. It is said that one should never kill a turtle or tortoise without reason. If you are to come across one stuck upside down along your path, it is said to be good luck to help it and turn it over to let it goon its way and that doing the opposite or leaving it stuck is very bad luck and karma.
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