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River terrapin

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Cladus: Archelosauria
Division: Pan-Testudines
Division: Testudinata
Ordo: Testudines
Subordo: Cryptodira
Superfamilia: Testudinoidea

Familia: Geoemydidae
Subfamilia: Geoemydinae
Genus: Batagur
Species: Batagur baska

Batagur baska (Gray, 1830:pl 75)
Holotype: lost.


Emys baska (Gray 1830:pl 75)
Emys batagur (Gray 1831)
Trionyx cuvieri (Gray 1831)
Tetronyx longicollis (Lesson 1832)
Emys tetraonyx (Temmink & Schlegel 1833:43)
Tetraonyx Lessonii (Duméril & Bibron 1835:338)
Tetronyx [sic] Baska (Duméril & Bibron 1835:341)
Batagur baska Gray 1855
Batagur baska Gray 1857:343
Batagur baska ranongensis Nutaphand 1979 (nom. dubium)
Batagur baska Manthey & Grossmann 1997:441
Batagur baska Cox et al. 1998:125
Batagur baska ranongensis Obst 2003:17
Batagur baska Rhodin et al. 2010
Batagur baska TTWG 2014


Gray, J. E. 1830. Illustrations of Indian Zoology, chiefly selected from the collection of Major-General Hardwicke. Vol. I, Part 4, pls. 75, 78. London: Treuttel, Wurtz, Treuttel, Jun. and Richter.
Turtle Taxonomy Working Group (Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., Bour, R., Fritz, U., Georges, A., Shaffer, H.B. & van Dijk, P.P.). 2017. Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist and Atlas of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status (8th Ed.). Chelonian Research Monographs 7: 1–292. ISBN 978-1-5323-5026-9. DOI: 10.3854/crm.7.checklist.atlas.v8.2017. Paywall. Full article (PDF). Reference page.

Vernacular names
čeština: Batagur bengálský
Deutsch: Nördliche Batagur-Schildkröte
English: Northern river terrapin, Batagur, Common batagur, Four-toed terrapin, River terrapin
español: Galápago batagur
français: Batagur malais
ไทย: เต่ากระอาน

The northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) is a species of riverine turtle native to Southeast Asia. It is classified Critically Endangered by the IUCN and considered extinct in much of its former range.

River terrapins of different age cohorts: (from top to bottom) hatchling of about a week old, one year old and two years old.

The northern river terrapin is one of Asia's largest freshwater and brackwater turtles, reaching a carapace length of up to 60 cm and a maximum weight of 18 kg.[4] Its carapace is moderately depressed, with a vertebral keel in juveniles. The plastron is large, strongly angulate laterally in the young, convex in the adult. The head is rather small, with a pointed and upwards-tending snout. The legs have band-like scales.[5]

The upper surface of the carapace and the soft parts are generally olive-brown, while the plastron is yellowish. Head and neck are brown with reddish bases. Males in breeding coloration have a black head and neck with a crimson or orange dorsal surface and red or orange forelegs. The colour of the pupils also changes during this period, to brown in females and yellow-white in males. During the breeding season, the color of the pupils of a female brown whereas the pupils in the males become yellowish-white.[5][6]

Two subspecies are recognized: B. b. baska (Gray, 1831) and B. b. ranongensis (Nutaphand, 1979).
Distribution and habitat

The species is currently found in Bangladesh (in the Sundarbans), Cambodia, India (parts- West Bengal & Odisha), Indonesia and Malaysia. It is regionally extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It is strongly aquatic but uses terrestrial nesting sites, frequenting the tidal areas of estuaries, large rivers, and mangrove forests.[1]

The northern river terrapin is omnivorous, taking waterside plants and small animals such as clams.[7] The species prefers freshwater habitats and moves to brackish river mouths or estuaries in the breeding season (December–March), returning after laying their eggs. Individuals have been known to undertake long seasonal migrations of 50 to 60 miles to the sand banks where they were hatched. Females usually lay three clutches of 10-34 eggs each.[7][8]

The species is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN, principally due to exploitation as a food item (including egg harvesting). Previously, immense numbers were shipped into the fish markets of Calcutta from throughout India; among the Bengali Hindus, the river terrapin was considered the most delectable of all turtles.[9] It is still illegally exported from Indonesia and traded in large numbers in China. Loss of nesting beaches and pollution are also impacting the species.[1]

A hatchery and captive breeding project was established in Vawal National Park at Gazipur in Bangladesh and another in Sajnekhali Forest Station in the Sunderban Tiger Reserve in India with support from Turtle Survival Alliance.[9]
See also

Southern river terrapin


Praschag, P.; Singh, S. (2019). "Batagur baska". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T97358453A2788691. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T97358453A2788691.en. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
Rhodin, Anders G.J.; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Inverson, John B.; Shaffer, H. Bradley; Roger, Bour (2011-12-31). "Turtles of the world, 2011 update: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution and conservation status" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-01-31.
Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World" (PDF). Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 212–213. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-05-01. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
"Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska)". Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).
Boulenger, George Albert (1890). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma: reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis.
"An endangered terrapin". The New Indian Express.
"Batagur baska field guide". Asian Turtle Network.
"Batagur baska". ARKive. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-09-04.

Further reading
Das, Indraneil (1989). "Batagur baska in Orissya". Hamadryad: The Journal of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust. 14 (1): 2–3.
Gray, J.E. (1857). "Notice of some Indian tortoises (including the description of a new species presented to the British Museum by Professor Oldham)". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 19 (2): 342–344.

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