Black pond turtle

Native to the Indian subcontinent and named for the dark hue of their shell

Rohit Naniwadekar

With a shell that is a deep, dark ebony in youth, these turtles’ carapaces often mature to reveal patterns in lighter tones of yellow or off-white, adding to their distinctive appearance. As semi-aquatic creatures, they are commonly found gliding through the shallow and still waters of Pakistan, northern India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

These turtles’ diets are diverse and can vary based on their habitat and the availability of food sources. They are primarily carnivorous in their early stages of life, feeding on a variety of insects, fish, and carrion. As they age, their dietary habits can shift to include more plant matter, making them more omnivorous. This adaptability in diet reflects their resilience and ability to survive in varying conditions.

However, this resilience is tested by the pressures of human activity. Unfortunately, these turtles’ beguiling appearance has made them a prime target for illegal wildlife trade. Poachers are drawn to their unique shells, leading to a decline in their populations in the wild. The demand for their meat is another significant threat, often fueled by local traditions and the exotic pet trade, further exacerbating their risk of being hunted.

The challenges these turtles face are not limited to direct human exploitation. Habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, urban development, and deforestation leads to fragmentation, which isolates populations and makes it difficult for them to access the full range of their natural environment. Water pollution, another byproduct of human activity, contaminates the aquatic ecosystems that these turtles depend on, affecting their health and the availability of clean water and food.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Bangladesh
2018
India
2018
Nepal
2018
Pakistan
2018

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No