Indian flapshell turtle

Lissemys punctata

Indian flapshell turtle is a fresh water species of turtle found in South Asia. The “Flap-shelled” name stems from the presence of femoral flaps that are located on the plastron. These flaps of skin serve the purpose of covering the limbs when they retract into the shell. It is unclear what protection the flaps offer against predators. They are widespread and common in the South Asian provinces.
Indian Flapshell turtle on Wilpaththu path, Sri Lanka  Asia,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Sri Lanka,Wilpaththu

Appearance

The carapace of ''Lissemys punctata'' viewed from above is broadly oval in adults but more circular in young, widest just anterior to hind limbs. The width of disc 77-86 per cent of its length; carapace moderately arched, shell height 35-40.5 per cent of carapace length; margin of carapace smooth, slightly flared posteriorly; marginal bones not united with pleurals; plastron large but mostly cartilaginous, its length 88-97.5 per cent of carapace length; pair of large flaps that can be closed over hind limbs and smaller flap over tail; seven plastral callosities; head large, its width 21.5-25 per cent of carapace width; proboscis short and stout; nasal septum without lateral ridge; edges of jaws smooth, alveolar surfaces expanded
and granular; claws large and heavy; penis thick, oval, with deep dorsal cleft and four pointed, soft papillae; tail very short in both sexes.


The carapace length of the ''Lissemys punctata'' has been known to range anywhere from 240-370mm in length.
Closeup of Indian flapshell turtle sunbathing at Wilpaththu, Sri Lanka Funny story: in the dutch language, we typically use a single word for all types of turtles (freshwater, land, marine). Naturally, we translate that to the english word "turtle". So every time we spot one, no matter the type, we say "turtle!", and keep getting corrected by guides that sometimes it is a tortoise. A similar thing is true for the distinction between apes and monkeys, they are the same thing for us, based on language :) Asia,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Sri Lanka,Wilpaththu

Naming

*Economic and environmental factors
In many South Asia provinces, freshwater turtles and their eggs are commonly used as a good source of food and protein. As a result, these turtles are often exploited as a source of profit. In Bangladesh and India, this is especially evident as the Indian Flap-shell turtle is larger and has more meat than other turtles in the area. The value of this meat along with the efforts in the conservation of this species has driven the price of meat higher and has led to an increase in the illegal international exploitation and killing of these animals.
Changes to the turtle's natural habitat by the construction of dams and barrages, cultivation along river banks and pollution are also major threats to the survival of this turtle.
Indian flapshell turtle sunbathing at Wilpaththu, Sri Lanka  Asia,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Sri Lanka,Wilpaththu

Distribution

The Indian Flap-shelled Turtle is found in Pakistan, India , Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh , Burma . ''Lissemys punctata'' has been introduced to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

It is also found in the desert ponds of Rajasthan where hundreds are killed every year during the dry summers.
The race ''andersoni'' is found in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Type locality: "Des grandes Indes" ; restricted to "Pondicherry, Coromandel Coast, India" by Webb .
Soft shelled turtle Soft shelled turtle (Lissemys punctata) in Wilpattu national park.                                Geotagged,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Soft Shelled Turtle,Sri Lanka,Turtle

Status

The Indian flap-shelled turtle was placed in Appendix I of CITES in 1975 at the request of Bangladesh. However, ''L. p. punctata'' was the taxa listed, not ''L. p. andersoni''. Subsequent reviews of the literature and available data could find no evidence to support this endangered status. Some scientists now classify ''L. p. punctata'' and ''L. p. andersoni'' as a single subspecies. This subspecies is the most common aquatic turtle in India. Consequently, the Indian flap-shelled turtle was removed from the endangered species list in 1983 . This action however did not affect the turtle's status on Appendix I of CITES.
Indian Flapshell Turtles on Wilpaththu shore, Sri Lanka  Asia,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Sri Lanka,Wilpaththu

Habitat

*Food
The Indian flapshell turtle is known to be omnivorous. Its diet has been known to consist of: frogs, fishes, shrimps, snails, aquatic vegetation, plant leaves, flowers, fruits, grasses and seeds.

⤷ Habitat and environmental impact

Lissemys punctata lives in the shallow, quiet, often stagnant waters of rivers, streams, marshes, ponds, lakes and irrigation canals, and tanks. Waters with sand or mud bottoms are preferred.

Prefers to inhabit shallow, muddy ditches, lakes, marshes, ponds and irrigation canals. Habitats with muddy or sandy bottoms are preferred because of the turtle’s tendency to burrow.
In a study done in Bangladesh it was found that the ''Lissemis punctata'' turtle plays an important role to reduce pollution in aquatic ecosystems by feeding on snails, insects and fragments of dead animals.

⤷ Drought survival
These turtles have been known to be very well adapted, both morphologically and behaviorally to drought conditions. The turtle utilizes mainly burrowing and moving from water hole to water hole in order to avoid desiccation. The femoral flaps that cover the retracted legs serve to help the turtle survive dry conditions. During a time of drought, the turtles enter a time of estivation in an attempt to survive the dry conditions. Although many turtles die during drought conditions, some turtles have been reported to survive up to 160 days.
Lissemys_punctata Turtle seen at Keoladeo NP Bharatpur,Geotagged,India,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Winter

Reproduction

*Courtship routines
The turtles become reproductively active at age 2 or 3. Courtship and mating behavior of these turtles is unique and was observed by P. Duda and K. Gupta in 1981. Courtship begins when the male begins stroking the female’s carapace with his neck and limbs extended. When receptive, the female faces the male with her neck extended and they will begin bobbing their heads vertically 3 or 4 times. This behavior is repeated 5-8 more times. Mating then begins when the female settles to the bottom and is mounted by the male. Near the end of mating, the male releases his grip and rotates to face the opposite direction from her. They remain attached in this position for as long as 15 minutes. During this time, the female may drag the male about. The pair then separates and copulation ends.
⤷ Nesting
Nesting times occur during many periods in the year depending on habitat and location. Swampy areas with soil and exposure to sunlight are common nesting sites among these turtles. Eggs are usually laid 2 to 3 times per year in clutches of 2-16. These eggs are buried in soil for protection.
Indian Flapshell turtle closeup on Wilpaththu path, Sri Lanka This turtle simply wouldn't move, our driver had to get out of the car and lift it to the side of the path. One cool observation in Sri Lanka is that in general (with a few exceptions), people are very respectful towards animals, probably originating from Buddhist beliefs: every form of life deserves to live. Even mosquitoes and leeches aren't squashed, they are just chased away. Asia,Indian flapshell turtle,Lissemys punctata,Sri Lanka,Wilpaththu

Predators

*Economic and environmental factors
In many South Asia provinces, freshwater turtles and their eggs are commonly used as a good source of food and protein. As a result, these turtles are often exploited as a source of profit. In Bangladesh and India, this is especially evident as the Indian Flap-shell turtle is larger and has more meat than other turtles in the area. The value of this meat along with the efforts in the conservation of this species has driven the price of meat higher and has led to an increase in the illegal international exploitation and killing of these animals.
Changes to the turtle's natural habitat by the construction of dams and barrages, cultivation along river banks and pollution are also major threats to the survival of this turtle.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Status: Unknown
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderTestudines
FamilyTrionychidae
GenusLissemys
SpeciesL. punctata
Photographed in
India
Sri Lanka