Indian peacock softshell turtle
The rounded juvenile carapace is olive with usually four, but up to six dark-centered, yellow-bordered ocelli, and numerous yellowish spots forming a border about the rim of the shell. In adults the carapace (to 60 cm) is more oval and becomes darker green with black reticulations; the ocelli and yellow spots fade with age, and some older individuals in Bangladesh are melanistic. Several longitudinal rows of tubercles occur on the juvenile carapace and some of these persist in adults. Also, a series of enlarged blunt tubercles occur above the neck on the anterior marginal rim. A preneural and a neural lie between the 1st pair of costals, the other seven pairs of costals are well-developed, with the last pair touching at the midline. Carapacial bones have pitted surfaces. The plastron is tan to gray, and has rather large callosities on the hyo- and hypoplastra and xiphiplastra and in older animals on the entoplastron. The epiplastra nearly touch. The entoplastron is straight or forms obtuse angles to the plastral midline. The skull is moderate in size with a strongly downturned, sharply pointed bony snout which is much longer than the diameter of the orbit. Triturating surfaces of the maxillae are ridgeless, but there is a median groove. The surface of the mandible bears a well-developed longitudinal ridge at the symphysis; its diameter at the symphysis is longer than the diameter of the orbit. Skin of the head, neck, and limbs is olive to green. The head is marked with black reticulations and yellow spots in the young; the largest of the spots cross the snout and occur on the side of the head at the tympanum; these spots fade with age.
Males have long, thick tails with the vent situated near the tip.
Aspideretes hurum is found in the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
Variation does occur and possibly valid subspecies exist; a thorough study is needed.
Aspideretes hurum is found in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds with mud or sand bottoms.
Courtship involves much biting by the male (Das, 1991, 1995), and Flower (1899) reported males emit sounds. Nesting occurs in the winter months. The eggs are hard-shelled and spherical (Chaudhuri, 1912; Das, 1991, 1995).
Annandale (1912) found that A. hurum kept in tanks at a temple in Puri, Orissa, ate rice and palm sugar sweetmeats and were very tame, coming to feed when called. The turtles were popularly believed to be descendants of a man named Gopal who offended Juggernaut, and they were summoned by the priest by this name, although they did not always come. Wild individuals eat snails, insects and fish (Das, 1991, 1995).
Both wild and captive Aspideretes hurum are fond of burying themselves under mud or sand.
IUCN Red List Status (1996)