Leith’s softshell turtle is a large species, which may reach 60cm (almost 2 ft) and weigh 30kg (66 lbs). It has a grey to olive green carapace (top shell) covered in a leathery skin (like all softshell turtles). The species has a medium-sized head with a pointed snout and the skin on the neck and head has distinctive lines and spots.
Leith’s softshell turtles inhabit rivers and creeks with muddy bottoms, turbid waterways, swamps, canals and artificial ponds.
Found only in peninsular India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu).
Although the species was once common through much of its range, it has disappeared mainly due to siltation and drying up of rivers during the summer. Domestic and international trade were major factors in its decline. The species is known to have been heavily exploited in India for domestic consumption, although the current status of harvest is not known; it remains a highly sought after species in domestic trade. International trade, primarily for the food and medicinal markets in East Asia, principally China, is known to still occur; although the numbers of turtles involved is not known, the species is in high demand.
SOURCE: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service
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