Tricarinate Hill Turtle, also known as the Indian three-striped roofed turtle or three-keeled land turtle, is a small species of turtle found in India. The Tricarinate Hill Turtle is an endangered species of turtle that lives in the wetland habitats of the Tricarinate Hill region of India. It is one of the rarest turtle species in the world, and the only one of its kind in the region.
The Tricarinate Hill Turtle is a small-sized turtle with a length of around 12-15 cm. It is characterized by three prominent keels on its carapace (upper shell) that run from the front to the back. The carapace coloration ranges from brownish-gray to dark brown, with three yellowish stripes running along the keels. The plastron (lower shell) is usually yellowish or brownish with black blotches. The head is brownish with a yellow stripe on each side, and the eyes are large and black. They are relatively light-weighted, with males weighing around 200-250 grams and females around 300-400 grams.
Habitat and distribution
The Tricarinate Hill Turtle is found in the hilly regions of India, mainly in the North eastern states.. They are mainly terrestrial and semi-aquatic, found in streams, ponds, and marshes in the forested areas. They are more active during the monsoon season (June-September) when their habitat gets more water. They prefer to live in areas with dense vegetation cover and are often found hiding under leaf litter or fallen logs.
The Tricarinate Hill Turtle is an omnivore and feeds on a variety of plant and animal matter. They feed on leaves, fruits, flowers, insects, snails, and small vertebrates like frogs and lizards. They are known to be opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever is available in their habitat.
The breeding season of Tricarinate Hill Turtles starts in the rainy season (June-September). They mate in water and females lay eggs in sandy soil. A clutch of 2-4 eggs is laid, and the incubation period lasts for around 70-80 days. The hatchlings emerge in the post-monsoon season (October-November) and are usually around 3 cm long.
The Tricarinate Hill Turtle is considered to be an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat destruction, over-exploitation for food and traditional medicine, and collection for the pet trade. The government of India has listed the species under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides the highest level of protection. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has initiated a program to protect the species and its habitat by establishing captive breeding centers and promoting awareness among local communities.
Where to see them
Tricarinate Hill Turtles are found in the river system of North East India. They are very rare and spotting them easily can be a task. These can be seen basking in the sun in the forests of North East Indian states.