Kachuga smithii

(Gray, 1863d)
Brown roofed turtle

The elliptical carapace (to 23 cm) is widest behind the middle, arched, and with a smooth or only slightly serrated posterior rim. A medial keel is present, but is low and rather blunt with only slightly raised areas on the posterior portions of the vertebrals. Vertebrals 2 and 5 are broader than long; the 1st, 3rd, and 4th are longer than broad. Also, vertebral 4 is tapered and pointed anteriorly. The carapace is brown to tan with a dark medial stripe. The plastron is long and narrow; the anterior lobe is much shorter than the broad bridge, but the hindlobe is only slightly shorter and is notched posteriorly. The humero-pectoral seam joins the plastral midseam at a slight angle. The plastral formula is: abd > fem > hum > pect > an > gul. On the bridge the inguinal scute is larger than the axillary. Plastron and bridge are yellow with a large black blotch on each scute. The head is moderate in size with a projecting short, pointed snout. Its upper jaw is not medially notched. Skin on the back of the head is divided into large scales. The head is yellowish gray or pinkish gray with a reddish brown spot on the temple and a dark snout. The neck is gray with yellow stripes. The gray forelimbs have enlarged transverse scales.
Diploid chromosomes total 52 (Killebrew, 1977a; Bickham and Carr, 1983).
Males have longer, thicker tails with the vent beyond the rim of the carapace; females have short tails with the vent under the carapace.

Kachuga smithii lives in the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra watersheds of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

Geographic Variation
Two subspecies have been described (Moll, 1987). The typical race, the brown roofed turtle, Kachuga smithii smithii (Gray, 1863d) occurs throughout the range of the species. It has a plastral pattern consisting of large dark blotches, and dark pigment on the sides of the head, outer surface of the limbs and feet, and penis. Kachuga s. pallidipes Moll, 1987, the pale-footed roofed turtle, seems restricted to the northern tributaries of the Ganges. It lacks a dark plastral pattern, and the pigment on the head, limbs, feet, and penis is reduced.

According to Minton (1966), Kachuga smithii is common in river channels and larger canals, and is occasionally found in lakes and ponds connected to rivers. It frequents muddy water with some current where there are logs, bridge abutments, and other protruding objects. It commonly basks in aggregations.

Natural History
Auffenberg and Khan (1991) reported the following reproductive data from Pakistan. Females mature at 12.5 cm, and males at 9.5 cm carapace length. Gravid females were collected in September, and the number of eggs found in their oviducts was 7-9, with the numbers of eggs in the right and left sides nearly equal.
Nests are dug in sandbanks from August to mid-November (Das, 1991). At least two clutches of 3-11 eggs are produced each year (Auffenberg and Khan, 1991; Das, 1991). The white eggs are reported to be elongated (39.2-54.0 x 22.0-24.7 mm; Ewert, 1979; Das, 1991) to oval (40.0-42.4 x 39.2 x 41.4 mm; Auffenberg and Khan, 1991). Four hatchlings measured by Ewert (1979) had an average carapace length of 39.2 mm.
Kachuga smithii is omnivorous. Stomachs of 92 females examined by Auffenberg and Khan (1991) contained remains of the following plant genera: Typha (25.0% of stomachs), Desmochachyes (21.6%), Cyperus (20.5%), Nostratum (16.3%), Saccarum (6.5%), Potamogeton (4.0%), Cynodon (3.3%), and Amaranthus and Polygonum (1.4% each); it also takes crustaceans. In captivity it will eat prawns, fresh fish, frogs, ground beef, insects, worms, and a variety of fruits and lettuce. Some also consume carrion (Das, 1991).
While they love to bask, these turtles are still very wary and slip quickly into the water at the least disturbance. In Pakistan they are quiescent from early December to early March, but some bask during the warmest hours (Minton, 1966).

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Not listed.