Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle
|Geographical Range||Pakistan and India to Malaysia (southern Asia)|
|Scientific Name||Chitra indica|
This is one big turtle -- up to 45 inches long and over 260 pounds! Like all softshell turtles, this one has a carapace (upper shell) covered with leathery skin, as opposed to the hard plates found on most turtle shells.
The narrow-headed softshell spends most of its time in the water, hanging out on the sandy bottoms of deep rivers. It buries itself in the sand and lies in wait for its prey. When a tasty-looking morsel happens by, the turtle shoots out its long neck with great speed and captures the unlucky victim. The turtle's favorite animal foods include fish, mollusks, crabs, shrimp; plants occasionally show up on the menu.
The narrow-headed softshell rarely leaves the water, except during nesting season. A female hauls herself onto a sandy beach and lays her eggs -- 60 to 110 at a time!
Despite its relatively high reproductive rate, the narrow-headed softshell is in danger of extinction in the wild. The species is captured in huge numbers and sold as food or medicine in Asian markets. Though there are some international laws designed to limit the turtle trade, these laws need much better enforcement if they're to be effective.
Did You Know?
Because of its habitat and habits (deep water, often submerged), much about the narrow-headed softshell remains a mystery.