Scientific Name : Melanochelys trijuga
Tamil Name : Sethu Aamai
Description: Indian black turtle or Indian pond terrapin is a species of turtle found in South Asia. It is a medium sized fresh water turtle despite its name the color of its upper shell or carapace varies largely from reddish to dark brown and black with yellow streaks running along its length. The underside or plastron is uniformly brown in color.
Distribution and status: The commonest and most distributed of Indian terrapins. Prefers slow flowing and sedentary water bodies. It is classified as near threatened in IUCN red list. It is particularly threatened because of hunting for its meat which is considered as delicacy and due to pet trade.
Habitat: It inhabits a variety of water bodies including ponds, marshes streams, rivers and artificial water bodies like Rice paddies, watering holes etc.
Habit: Most active during early morning and evening it spend the day basking in the sun. It typically forages on aquatic vegetation along the edge of water bodies.
Food: it is omnivorous and it diet ranges from aquatic plants to aquatic insects and even to carcasses of dead animals. Sometimes many turtles can be seen alongside a carcass of a large dead mammal.
Life cycle: It breeds during the wet season between Augusts to October. During this time the male becomes particularly aggressive and starts chasing the female all the while biting her along the neck, the male attaches itself on the top of female during mating, Once the mating is completed the female digs a nest in the ground or occasionally in a pile of rhinoceros or elephant dung using the left hind leg to excavate the nest and right hind leg to clear the excess material. Clutch of legs are laid into this burrow, 2-6 clutches are laid in a burrow per year. Incubation eggs takes about 60–65 days and the newborns are hatched around the summer season.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean