Asian Leaf Turtle, also known as the Indian Leaf Turtle or the Assam Roofed Turtle, is a freshwater turtle found in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. In this article, we will discuss the general features of this species, their habitat, food habits, breeding, number of eggs they give, their conservation status, and where one can go in India to see them.
The Asian Leaf Turtle is a small to medium-sized freshwater turtle with an elongated, oval-shaped shell that can grow up to 25 cm in length. The carapace, or upper shell, is smooth and flattened with a brown or black coloration. The plastron, or lower shell, is yellowish with black markings. The head and limbs are also brown or black in color. The males are slightly smaller than the females and have longer tails.
Habitat and Distribution
Asian Leaf Turtles are found in the freshwater habitats of northeastern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. In India, they are mainly found in the Brahmaputra river basin, particularly in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Meghalaya. They prefer slow-moving or stagnant water bodies like ponds, lakes, and small streams with plenty of aquatic vegetation.
The Asian Leaf Turtle is primarily herbivorous, feeding on a variety of aquatic vegetation like water hyacinth, duckweed, and water lettuce. They also consume insects, snails, and small crustaceans.
The breeding season for Asian Leaf Turtles in India is from April to September. During this time, the females come ashore to lay eggs in the sandy or muddy banks of rivers or ponds. They usually lay 2-6 eggs per clutch, which hatch after 60-70 days of incubation.
The Asian Leaf Turtle is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss, overexploitation for the pet trade, and other anthropogenic activities. The species is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of India, and various conservation measures have been taken to conserve this species in the wild. Some of the steps being taken include habitat restoration, enforcement of wildlife laws, and awareness programs to discourage the trade of these turtles as pets.
Places to See Asian Leaf Turtles
The best places to see Asian Leaf Turtles in India are in the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of northeastern India, such as Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. The best time to see them is during the breeding season, which is from April to September.