Kachuga tentoria

(Gray, 1834, in Gray, 1830-1835)
Indian tent turtle

Recognition
The arched elliptical carapace (to 26.5 cm) is widest behind the middle and unserrated posteriorly in adults (hatchlings and juveniles may have some serrations). The medial keel is prominent with a strong spikelike posterior projection on the 3rd vertebral scute. Vertebral 2 may be smaller than 1 or 3. Vertebrals 1, 2, and 5 are broader than long; 3 and 4 are longer than broad. Vertebral 3 is posteriorly pointed and 4 is anteriorly pointed, so the seam between these scutes is very short. The carapace is brown to olive and generally paler than that of Kachuga tecta, with a narrow, red to orange medial stripe. The plastron is long and narrow; the forelobe is much shorter than the broad bridge; the hindlobe is only slightly shorter than the bridge and contains a posterior anal notch. The humero-pectoral seam joins the plastral midseam at an obtuse angle. The plastral formula is: abd > fem > pect >< hum > an > gul. On the bridge, the inguinal is only slightly larger than the axillary. Plastron and bridge are yellow with a single large black blotch on each scute; there is a wide yellow midseam. The head is moderate in size with a projecting, short, pointed snout and an upper jaw that is not medially notched. Skin on the back of the head is divided into large scales. The head is olive to gray with a conspicuous red patch behind the tympanum, but the large crescentlike orange or red temporal blotch found in K. tecta is absent. The jaws are yellow or pink. The neck is olive to gray with few, if any, yellow stripes. The uniformly gray limbs lack yellow spots and have large transverse scales.
Males have long, thick tails with the vent beyond the carapacial rim. Females have shorter tails with the vent under the carapace. Males are much smaller than females.

Distribution
Kachuga tentoria occurs mostly on the Gangetic Plain in northern India, but has also been reported from Bangladesh (McDowell, 1964; Pritchard, 1979) and more recently from Gujarat (Vyas and Patel, 1990).

Geographic Variation
There are three subspecies. Kachuga tentoria tentoria (Gray, 1834, in Gray, 1830-1835), the Indian tent turtle, occurs in the Mahanadi, Godavari, and Kristna watersheds of peninsular India. It has no bright reddish band between the pleural and marginal scutes, has, at best, poorly marked stripes on the neck, and a plastral pattern of large dark blotches. The pink-ringed tent turtle K. t. circumdata Mertens, 1969a is found in the upper and central Ganges watershed of India. It has a reddish band circling the carapace along the seam separating the pleural and marginal scutes, clearly marked neck stripes, and a plastral pattern of large dark blotches. The yellow-bellied tent turtle K. t. flaviventer (G√ľnther, 1864) inhabits the northern tributaries of the Ganges River from Bihar, India eastward into Bangladesh. Its rather drab carapace has no circling reddish band, little or no neck stripes, and a uniformly yellow plastron.

Habitat
Kachuga tentoria is primarily a riverine species (Singh, 1985; Das, 1991).

Natural History
This species is fond of basking (Moll, 1987). Two clutches of 3-10 eggs are laid each year in October or November (Singh, 1985; Moll, 1987). Nests are 15-26 cm deep (Vijaya, 1982b). The eggs are white and elongated, 40.0-48.0 x 25.0-29.0 mm (Vijaya, 1982b; Singh, 1985; Das, 1991). Hatchlings are 27.0-35.5 mm (Vijaya, 1982b; Moll, 1987).
Females are almost totally herbivorous, whereas males and juveniles take some animal food (Edward O. Moll, pers. comm.).

Remark
Kachuga tentoria is closely related to K. tecta and K. smithii, and has at times been considered a subspecies of the former.

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Not listed.

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