Freshwater turtles

There are three introduced freshwater turtles that have been recorded in Mauritius, however one of the species may no longer be present has it has not been seen for decades.

Chinese softshell turtle Pelodiscus sinensis

This freshwater turtle originates from East and Southeast Asia and was deliberately introduced to Mauritius. It can be found in rivers, freshwater pools and muddy areas mostly near the Moka range. Its colour is usual olive-green or grey-brown and its shell averages 30cm in length. The shell itself is soft and has rows of small fleshy lumps, which become less as the turtle reaches adulthood. It has a long extendable neck, tube shaped snout and webbed, clawed feet. They are carnivorous and predate upon small fish, amphbians and aquatic invertebrates. They are very aggressive and have a severe bite.

East African black mud turtle Pelusios subniger

 

This small freshwater turtle may have been introduced to Mauritius from an introduced population in Diego Garcia, Chagos Archipelago although it originates from Africa and is native to the Seychelles and Madagascar. There have not been any sightings for a few decades and it may no longer be present in Mauritius. It is smaller than the Wattle-necked soft shelled turtle with an average shell length of 18cm long. The shell colour is dark brown-black with no distinctive pattern and has a paler yellow underside. Sometimes there are small dark spots on the head.

Red-eared slider, Red-eared terrapin Trachemys scripta elegans

This freshwater turtle is still frequently imported into Mauritius as a pet. It originates from North America and has been introduced to many other countries around the world through the pet trade and is considered to be one of the worst invasive species, because of their negative impacts upon aquatic ecosystems. It can be found in areas between Flic en Flac and Black River with additional sightings in the Grand Port region. The introductons to the wild are mostly unwanted pets that have been released into rivers and ponds.

They are sold as small colourful hatchlings, but grow quickly and can become aggressive. The distinguishing feature of this medium sized turtle is the red stripe that runs from behind the eye. The shell can be slightly larger than the East African black mud turtle and is usually dark olive-green in colour. The head and body is patterned with yellow and dark brown-green stripes. Although they mostly live in shallow, muddy waters, they can be seen on rocks or river banks basking in the sun.