Pelusios upembae

Broadley, 1981a
Upemba mud turtle

The dark brown to black carapace (to at least 23 cm) is elongated, oval, flattened dorsally, broader behind the center, and unserrated posteriorly. Vertebrals 1-2 and 4-5 are broader than long, vertebral 4 is slightly longer than broad. Vertebrals 1-3 are the largest, vertebral 4 the smallest; vertebral 1 is flared anteriorly, the 5th posteriorly. The eight neurals are separated from both the nuchal bone and the suprapygal. The strongly hinged plastron is large, covering most of the carapacial opening when the shell is closed. It is notched posteriorly, and the anterior lobe is about the same length as the interabdominal seam. The posterior lobe is constricted at the abdominal-femoral seam. The plastral formula is: abd > fem > hum > intergul > an > pect > gul. The intergular is broader than long. The plastron is black with yellow pigment or blotches along the medial seam; the bridge is black. The head is broad with a blunt snout and an upper jaw lacking cusps. Two chin barbels are present. The postocular scale is usually separated from the masseteric by a supralabial scale. The head is either uniformly tan or has small yellow vermiculations. Finely granulated skin is present on the neck and throat.
Sexual dimorphism is as in P. bechuanicus.

This species is only found in the Fungwe and Lualaba watersheds of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Apparently this turtle lives in deep streams and rivers.

Geographic variation and Natural History

Pelusios upembae was originally proposed as a subspecies of P. bechuanicus, but was elevated to species rank by Bour (1983).

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Data deficient.