Pelomedusa – African helmeted turtles

Some of the most robust turtles in the world

Pelomedusa is a genus of semi-aquatic turtles, meaning that they spend part of their time in the water and part on land. These turtles are found in slow-moving rivers and ponds in sub-Saharan Africa, can live in fresh and brackish water environments, and tolerate wide water quality and temperature fluctuations.

These turtles have a unique form of thermoregulation, using their long necks to move in and out of the sun to regulate their body temperature. The species in this genus have a rather flat carapace (upper shell) and a relatively small plastron (lower shell), which allows them to easily hide in tight spaces and burrow in the mud when threatened.

Despite their popularity as pets, the wild populations of Pelomedusa turtles are considered at risk due to habitat destruction and exploitation by the pet trade.