Melanochelys tricarinata

(Blyth, 1856)
Tricarinate hill turtle

This poorly known species has a carapace that is elongated (to 16.3 cm) and rather high domed with three low keels. Vertebrals are broader than long. The carapace is usually reddish brown (described as plum colored by Smith, 1931) to black, and the keels are yellow to brown. The plastron is long and notched posteriorly, and the hindlobe is longer than the bridge. The plastral formula is: abd > pect > an > gul > fem >< hum. Bridge and plastron are yellowish to orange. Head, limbs, and tail are reddish brown to black. A narrow red, sometimes yellow or orange, stripe is present on each side of the head extending from the nostrils over the orbit and tympanum to the neck. A second similarly colored stripe passes backward from the corner of the mouth. Limbs may contain some yellow spotting, and the forelimbs have large square or pointed scales on their anterior surface. There may be enlarged scales on the heels of the clublike hind feet. The claws are long with the exception of the outermost, which is very small. Foretoes are only half webbed, hind toes barely, if at all, webbed.
The male plastron is slightly concave, and the tail longer and thicker with the vent beyond the carapace. Smith (1931) reported that older males may lose their head stripes. In older females, the hypoplastron is connected to the carapace only by ligaments, allowing the hindlobe of the plastron to move slightly away from the carapace, facilitating the laying of eggs (Moll, 1985).

Melanochelys tricarinata occurs only in Assam, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Melanochelys tricarinata is apparently fully terrestrial, preferring upland woodlands.

Natural History
According to Theobald (1876) and Das (1991), nesting occurs in December when 1-3, 44.4 x 25.4 mm eggs are laid. Mitchell and Rhodin (1996), based on measurements of growth annuli of a three year old specimen, calculated that its size as a hatchling must have been ca. 41 mm.
M. tricarinata is active at night, and spends the daylight hours in leaf litter, hollow logs or stumps, or under logs (Das, 1991). Captives eat fruits, vegetables and fish (Das, 1995).

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Vulnerable (B1+2c).