banner archives

 

Terrapins

Stuart Woodhead from Bungalow # 153 took the stunning and interesting picture below of terrapins swamping a hippo resting up in the pan as Buffelsbed Hide.

Serrated Hinged Terrapins are reptiles belonging to the order Testudines which occur in the tropical East Africa, as far south as KwaZulu Natal. The upper shell is called the carapace while the under part of the shell is called the plastron. These terrapins may grow to 450mm in length, they have claws which are razor sharp to assist clutching onto prey items such as frogs, small birds, invertebrates and any carrion from small mammals. The jaw has no teeth, it has an extremely hard flat surface jaw. It is the largest hinged terrapin.

Females lay a clutch of up to 25 soft-shelled eggs in a shallow excavated pit some distance from the closest water source. Eggs incubate for three to four months. Males are smaller than females and males can be distinguished by their longer tails.

The hinge allows the terrapin to retract its head and front limbs for self-defence. Another defensive characteristic the terrapin has is the ability to secrete a foul smelling fluid when under threat. The vertebrae and ribs are fused to the shell.

Terrapins can migrate reasonable distances across dry land in search of new water sources.

Terrapins are pre-historic, thought to date back to the age of dinosaurs.

Its South African Red Data Status is listed as Least Concern

Serrated hinged terrapins (Pelusios sinuatus) basking on the back of a hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

 

Facts researched on the Internet: Words by John Llewellyn