T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Turtle (Chinese Softshell) Pelodiscus sinensis

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Genus: Pelodiscus
Species: P. sinensis
Binomial name: Pelodiscus sinensis
Synonym: Trionyx sinensis
Common name: Chinese Softshell Turtle

The Chinese Softshell turtle is endemic to China; Japan; Taiwan, Province of China; Viet Nam. This species is commercially farmed in vast numbers (several million per year) for the food trade, the wild populations continue to be exploited for food and possibly farm founder stock, resulting in a decline in abundance throughout its wide range. 
In New Zealand, in the 1980s and 1990s juvenile Chinese softshell turtles were commonly seen for sale. Nowadays they can only be found in private collections.

Chinese softshell turtle can reach up to 33 cm in carapace length. It has webbed feet for swimming. They are called "softshell" because their carapace lacks horny scutes (scales). The carapace is leathery and pliable, particularly at the sides. The central part of the carapace has a layer of solid bone beneath it, as in other turtles, but this is absent at the outer edges. The light and flexible shell of these turtles allows them to move more easily in open water, or in muddy lake bottoms. 
The carapace of these turtles is olive in colour and may have dark blotches. The plastron is orange-red and may also have large dark blotches. The limbs and head are an olive colour dorsally with the forelimbs lighter and the hind-limbs orange-red ventrally. There are dark flecks on the head and dark lines that radiate from the eyes. The throat is mottled and there may be small, dark bars on the lips. A pair of dark blotches is found in front of the tail as well as a black band on the posterior side of each thigh. 
These turtles are predominantly carnivorous and the remains of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, insects, and seeds of marsh plants have been found in their stomachs. They forage at night.





Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/