Aspideretes leithii

(Gray, 1872)
Leith's softshell turtle

The oval to rounded carapace (to 63.5 cm) is olive with yellow vermiculations in adults. In juveniles four to six dark-centered, light-bordered ocelli are present on the gray carapace, but these fade with age and the carapace darkens to olive. Several longitudinal rows of tubercles are on the juvenile carapace, but the surface becomes smoother with age until only a dense patch of large tubercles remains at the midanterior edge of the carapace. Another patch of tubercles usually occurs along the midline posterior to the bony portion of the carapace. A preneural and one, sometimes two neural bones separate the 1st pair of costal bones; the 8th pair of costals is well-developed and meets at the carapacial midline. In the cream-colored plastron, the hypoplastral bones lie close at the midline, but do not touch. The epiplastra are also only narrowly separated, and the entoplastron forms obtuse angles to the plastral midline. Plastral callosities are large. The skull is moderate in size and the narrow pointed bony snout is longer than the diameter of the orbit. Triturating surfaces of the maxillae are flat with a well-marked median groove between them. The symphysis of the lower jaw is short and flattened, its length equal to or longer than the diameter of the orbit. In juveniles, the head is greenish with a black longitudinal streak between the eyes extending backward to the neck; two or three pairs of black lines extend outward from this streak toward the sides of the head, and another black streak extends backward from the eye. These black lines fade with age and may be absent in adults. A yellow spot may occur at the corner of the mouth. The outer surface of the limbs is green, the underside cream.
Males have long, thick tails with the vent near the tip; females have short tails.

Aspideretes leithii occurs in the Bhavani, Godaveri, and Moyer rivers of peninsular India (Moll and Vijaya, 1986).

This turtle probably lives in reservoirs and shallow, mud-bottomed stretches of streams and rivers, and is sometimes maintained in tanks within cities and villages.

Natural History
Possibly two clutches are laid each year (Das, 1995). Annandale (1915) found females with shelled oviductal eggs in June and January. The rounded, hard-shelled eggs are 29.8-31.1 mm in diameter (Das, 1995).
Its diet is made mostly up of worms, snails, prawns, crabs, fish, tadpoles, but also some plant material (Satyamurti, 1962; Das, 1991, 1995).

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Lower risk: near threatened.