Pelusios bechuanicus

FitzSimons, 1932
Okavango mud turtle

This large species (to 33 cm) has a black, elongated, oval carapace which is broader behind the center and unserrated posteriorly. Juveniles have a knobby medial keel, but this disappears with age until it is entirely missing in larger adults. Vertebrals 1, 2, 4, and 5 are broader than long; the 3rd is broader than long in juveniles, but as long as broad in adults. The eight neurals are separate from the suprapygal, and the 1st may not touch the nuchal bone. The strongly hinged, black plastron is large, closing all but a small part of the carapacial opening, and is notched posteriorly. Its anterior lobe is longer than the interabdominal seam, but not twice as long. The posterior lobe is constricted at the abdominal-femoral seam. The plastral formula is: abd > fem > hum > intergul >< an > pect > gul. The intergular is about 1.3 times as long as broad. The head is very broad with a blunt snout and an upper jaw which lacks cusps. There are two or three chin barbels, and the postocular scale is usually separated from the masseteric by a supralabial scale. A very short seam lies between the frontal and temporal scales. The head is black with yellow markings. Limbs, tail, and neck are yellow to gray.
Males have longer, thicker tails and slightly concave plastra.

Pelusios bechuanicus ranges from western Angola, southeastward to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Geographic Variation
No subspecies are currently recognized.

This turtle lives in deep, clear waters in rivers and swamps.

Natural History
Broadley (1981a) reported that a wild 23.9 cm female laid 21 eggs in moist soil on 16 October, and that three other females contained 28, 32, and 48 eggs, respectively. The elongated eggs (35-39 x 21-23 mm) have thin, leathery shells.

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Not listed.