East African black mud turtle

East African black mud turtle

East African black mud turtle

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Pelusios subniger

The East African black mud turtle (Pelusios subniger ), also known as the Pan terrapin, is a species of turtle in the family Pelomedusidae, native to eastern and southeastern Africa.


The East African black mud turtle has a smooth, domed carapace with a length of 5.1-7.9 in. The carapace is typically dark brown, gray, or black, often with yellow or dark markings on the margins. They are rather dull in color like most of their genus. The plastron is hinged. The underside of the turtle can be brown, grey, black, or yellow. The upper jaw has a blunt, smooth shape. The head of an adult is generally uniform in color. As in all side-necked turtles, the neck retracts the head sideways instead of vertically into the shell. This species may be confused with the West African mud turtle.

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Two subspecies are recognized:

  • P. s. subniger Bonnaterre, 1789 -   type species
  • P. s. parietalis Bour, 1983 - Seychelles black mud turtle

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The species occurs in much of eastern and southeastern tropical and subtropical Africa, with a southern limit in Zimbabwe, and including Madagascar and the Seychelles (P. s. parietalis in the latter location). Nonindigenous populations exist on Mauritius Island, Guadeloupe, Glorieuses Îsles, and Diego Garcia. It inhabits marshes, lakes and streams.

Habits and Lifestyle

The East African black mud turtle is omnivorous and takes fish, invertebrates, and plants. It is known to reach an age of over fifty years in captivity and forty-seven years in the wild. Females lay nests of 3-12 eggs. They lay their eggs in the spring and bury them in mud. Eggs take about two months to hatch. Although the East Africa black mud turtle can be seen basking throughout the day, they are more active at night and are considered to be nocturnal. They have been observed to burrow into the mud to regulate their body temperature.


Diet and Nutrition



The nominate subspecies is currently classified as least concern by the IUCN, while the Seychelles subspecies is thought to be critically endangered.


1. East African black mud turtle Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_African_black_mud_turtle
2. East African black mud turtle on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/41602/97386507

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