West African mud turtle

West African mud turtle
Pelusios castaneus002.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Pelomedusidae
Genus: Pelusios
P. castaneus
Binomial name
Pelusios castaneus
( Schweigger, 1812) [1] [2]
  • Emys castanea Schweigger, 1812
  • Sternothaerus leachianus
    Bell, 1825
  • Pelusios castaneus
    Wagler, 1830
  • Chelys (Sternotherus) castaneus Gray, 1831
  • Sternotherus castaneus
    — Gray, 1831
  • Sternotherus leachianus
    A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1835
  • Clemmys (Pelusios) castanea Fitzinger, 1835
  • Sternotherus derbianus
    Gray, 1844
  • Sternothaerus castaneus
    — Gray, 1856
  • Sternothaerus derbianus
    — Gray, 1856
  • Sternothaerus nigricans castaneus Siebenrock, 1906
  • Sternothaerus nigricans var. castanea Boulenger, 1907
  • Pelusios derbianus
    Schmidt, 1919
  • Pelusios nigricans castaneus Hewitt, 1927
  • Pelusios seychellensis Siebenrock, 1906
  • Pelusios subniger castaneus Mertens, 1933
  • Pelusios castaneus castaneus Laurent, 1965
  • Pelusios castaneus derbianus — Laurent, 1965
  • Pelusios derbyanus
    Pritchard, 1967 (ex errore)

The West African mud turtle (Pelusios castaneus), also known as the West African side-necked turtle or swamp terrapin[3], is a species of turtle in the family Pelomedusidae. Pelusios castaneus is a freshwater species and is endemic to West and Central Africa.


Pelusios seychellensis lectotype

The so-called Seychelles black terrapin, Seychelles mud turtle, or Seychelles terrapin was considered a species of turtle (Pelusios seychellensis) in the family Pelomedusidae, endemic to Seychelles.[4]

Genetic analysis of the lectotype has shown, however, that this turtle was never a separate species, and is in fact Pelusios castaneus.[4] It is possible that specimens were confused in a private collection before being acquired by the Zoological Museum Hamburg in 1901, or else mislabeled there.[5]


The West African mud turtle is found in the following countries of West and Central Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo. Additionally, it has been introduced to Guadeloupe.[1]


The West African mud turtle is carnivorous and feeds on aquatic prey. There are five phases to feeding; preliminary head fixation on the prey, fine-tuning the head fixation, final approach by the head, grasping of the prey followed by manipulation and transportation, and suction, resulting in ingestion after which the prey is swallowed. The final phase varies according to whether the prey is fast-moving, like a fish, or slow-moving like a gastropod mollusc.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Rhodin 2011, p. 000.215
  2. ^ a b Fritz 2007, pp. 346-347
  3. ^ Broadley, Donald G. (1973). "Provisional List of Vernacular Names for Rhodesian Reptiles and Amphibians". The Journal of the Herpetological Association of Africa. 10 (1): 17–24. doi:10.1080/04416651.1973.9650652.
  4. ^ a b "One Extinct Turtle Less: Turtle Species in the Seychelles Never Existed". Science Daily. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  5. ^ Stuckas, Heiko; Gemel, Richard; Fritz, Uwe; Canestrelli, Daniele (April 3, 2013). "One Extinct Turtle Species Less: Pelusios seychellensis Is Not Extinct, It Never Existed". PLoS ONE. 8 (4): e57116. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...857116S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057116. PMC 3616038. PMID 23573185.
  6. ^ Lemell, P.; Weisgram, J. (1996). "Feeding Patterns of Pelusios castaneus (Chelonia: Pleurodira)". Netherlands Journal of Zoology. 47 (4): 429–. doi:10.1163/156854297X00102.


External links