Kachuga sylhetensis

(Jerdon, 1870)
Assam roofed turtle

This is the smallest Kachuga, attaining a carapace length of only 20 cm. The carapace is oval, arched, and strongly serrated posteriorly. The medial keel is present on vertebrals 3-5, with a backward-pointing projection on the 3rd. Vertebrals 1, 2, and 5 are broader than long; 3 and 4 are much longer than broad. Also, the anterior border of the 4th is elongated into a point. Vertebral 5 differs from all other Kachuga by being widest in the anterior (rather than the posterior) half. There are 26 marginal scutes instead of the normal 24; the extra pair is formed by subdivision of the two supracaudal marginals. The carapace is olive brown, but paler along the vertebral keel. The elongated, oval plastron is notched posteriorly. Both its anterior and posterior lobes are shorter than the bridge. The humero-pectoral seam joins the plastral midseam at an obtuse angle. The plastral formula is: abd >< fem > pect > hum > an > gul. Inguinal and axillary scutes are large, with the inguinal slightly larger. Plastron and bridge vary from yellow, with a large dark brown or black spot on each scute, to totally brown. The head is moderate in size with a projecting snout and hooked upper jaw. Skin on the back of the head is weakly subdivided into scales. The head is brown with a transverse yellow stripe on the back of the head and a yellow stripe along the lower jaw. The neck is brown with pale yellow to cream stripes. The brown limbs have enlarged transverse scales.
Males have longer, thicker tails than females.

Kachuga sylhetensis has been found only in northeastern India (Khasi and Garo Hills of Meghalaya, Nagaland), adjacent Assam (Cachar, Manas National Park, and Sibsayar District), and Bangladesh (Khasi Hills of Sylhet) (Moll, 1987; Sarma, 1988; Choudhury, 1993a).

Rivers and oxbow lakes of floodplains near foothills. This species is found in reed beds of grasses on mud, with aquatic macrophytic plants (Lemna, Nymphaea, Pistia, Salvina and Utricularia) (Choudhury et al., 1997).

Natural History
K. sylhetensis is largely nocturnal (Choudhury et al., 1997). According to Sarma (1988) and Choudhury et al. (1997), captives will eat fronds of Pistia, soft roods of Eichhornia, stems of Utricularia, leaves of Salvinia, fleshy parts of Trapa, the inner soft part of Ipomoea, besides earthworms, mollusks, aquatic insects, prawns, and small freshwater fish. Earthworms seem the preferred food.

Although this turtle in some ways resembles Kachuga tecta (Theobald, 1876, thought it synonymous with K. tecta), it has several characters that set it apart from the other members of the genus and should be treated as a full species.

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Data deficient.