Indian roofed turtle
The arched, elliptical carapace (to 23 cm) is widest behind the middle and unserrated posteriorly. The medial keel is prominent with a strong spinelike posterior projection on the 3rd vertebral. Vertebrals 2 and 5 are broader than long, while 1, 3, and 4 are longer than broad. Vertebral 3 is posteriorly pointed while the 4th is anteriorly pointed, making the seam between these two scutes very short. The carapace is brown, sometimes yellow or orange bordered, with a red to orange medial stripe. The plastron is long and narrow; the forelobe is much shorter than the broad bridge, and the hindlobe is slightly shorter than the bridge and contains a posterior anal notch. The humero-pectoral seam joins the plastral seam at an obtuse angle. The plastral formula is: abd > fem > an >< hum > pect >< gul. On the bridge, the inguinal and axillary scutes are nearly equal in length, or the inguinal is slightly larger. Plastron and bridge are yellow with at least two black elongated blotches on each scute, except the gulars and anals which have only a single blotch. 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. Dorsally, the head is black with a large crescent-shaped, orange to yellowish red blotch on each temple (these may unite posteriorly to form a V-shaped mark). The jaws are yellow, and the neck is black with numerous yellow stripes. Limbs are olive to gray, and spotted and bordered with yellow. They have large transverse scales.
The karyotype is 2n = 52; 20 metacentric and submetacentric, 10 subtelocentric, and 22 acrocentric and telocentric chromosomes (Stock, 1972; Bickham and Carr, 1983).
Males are brighter in color than females, and have long, thick tails with the vent beyond the carapacial rim. Females have short tails with the vent under the carapace. Females grow larger than males.
Kachuga tecta inhabits the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Indus drainages in Pakistan, northern and peninsular India, and Bangladesh. Das (1991) also reports it in the Mahanadi basin.
According to Minton (1966), this is a quiet-water turtle, occurring in quiet streams, canals, oxbows, ponds, and man-made water tanks. Hossain and Sarker (1995) report it also occurs in brackish coastal waters. A soft bottom and abundant aquatic vegetation are preferred conditions.
Male K. tecta develop a small tubercle at the end of the thick tail during October, just before the breeding season, and shed it in March (Vyas and Patel, 1993). Vyas and Patel (1993) thought this tubercle helps in probing the females cloacal vent during courtship. During courtship the male swims along the females side and may also circle her.
Nesting has been reported in October (Mishra, 1984), December (Vijaya, 1982b), January and February (Das, 1995), and February and March (Vyas and Patel, 1993); Moll (1987) found eggs in January and Ahmad (1955) in March. Hossain and Sarker (1995a) report K. tecta in Bangladesh oviposits in two separate periods, from the beginning of December to mid-January and from mid-February to the end of March. A nest cavity 14-20 cm deep is usually dug, but Vyas and Patel (1993) reported a female laid eggs and then returned to the water without covering them.
Clutches contain 3-14 elongated (35-45 x 21-29 mm) eggs (Ahmad, 1955; Vijaya, 1982b; Moll, 1987; Vyas and Patel, 1993); Hossain and Sarker (1995a) report clutches with a maximum of 15 ovoid (50-51 x 20-21 mm), white eggs, that tend to become bluish at hatching time. The natural incubation period lasts 70-144 days (Vijaya, 1982b; Vyas and Patel, 1993). Hatchlings have 34.1-35.2 mm carapaces (Vyas and Patel, 1993) and weigh 7 g; for a description, see Moll (1987).
According to Hossain and Sarker (1995a), this species is omnivorous, feeding on aquatic plants, like water hyacinths and weeds, and animal prey such as crabs and snails; it also scavenges.
IUCN Red List Status (1996)