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Monday, 7 April 2014

Amazing Setiu: River Terrapin

Post-nesting female river terrapin photographed by the nesting bank, Tebing Pasir Penarik in Setiu. Photo credit: P.N. Chen
Post-nesting female river terrapin photographed by the nesting bank, Tebing Pasir Penarik in Setiu. Photo credit: P.N. Chen.


Common name: River terrapin
Scientific name: Batagur affinis
Local Malaysian name: Tuntung sungai
Conservation status: Listed as critically endangered in the 2009 IUCN Red List and in CITES Appendix I
Adult female shell length: 50 – 60 cm
Adult female body weight: 15 – 35 kg
Food: Adults are mainly herbivorous, feeding on mangrove apple (Sonneratia sp.), sedges (Scleria sp.), screw pine (Pandanus sp.), Colocasia (Ficus sp.) and water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes)
Range: Tidal portions of major rivers in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia
A male river terrapin during the nesting season. Photo credit: P.N. Chen.
A male river terrapin during the nesting season. Photo credit: P.N. Chen.
Nesting sites in Malaysia: Terengganu (Terengganu, Dungun, Besut, Setiu-Chalok rivers), Kedah river systems, Perak river systems and Pahang river systems
Characteristics: Upturned snout, four front claws
Sexual dimorphism: Adult males are smaller than adult females. During the nesting season, the male’s head, neck and feet turn jet black and the iris changes from creamish to white in colour
Nesting season: Mid-January – end of March
Number of nests deposited per individual per season: Typically one nest, with very few depositing 2 nests
River terrapin hatchlings photographed in Setiu. Photo credit: E.H. Chan.
River terrapin hatchlings photographed in Setiu. Photo credit: E.H. Chan.
Inter-nesting interval (interval between each nesting): Reported to be 14 days, but E.H. Chan who monitored nesting activity in Pasir Kumpal, Dungun River in 2006  found one female re-nesting successfully after 5 days. It is possible that laying was incomplete during the first nesting event. Two more re-nested after an interval of ten days, but the initial nesting event did not produce any eggs.
Number of eggs per nest: Range of 9 – 39, average of 25
Incubation duration: Between 60 – 92 days for in-situnests
Hatchling shell length: 6.0 – 8.0 cm
Hatchling body weight: 60 – 80 g
@http://www.turtleconservationsociety.org.my/

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