ventral view (bottom)
Inset: melanistic form (top)
ventral view (bottom)
Description: A dark-brown terrapin, with an average carapace length of 12.5 cm. In most specimens the dorsal scutes have yellow seams. Carapace moderately convex, with three prominent longitudinal keels. Head dark grey or black. Usually three yellowish stripes of irregular shape begin at the neck and form a net-pattern on the sides of the head. Stripes absent in melanistic (all-black) specimens, with little trace of any pattern. Plastron not hinged; light-grey or brown, with a dark blotch on each scute.
Habits and habitat: Was Hong Kong's most common turtle, or certainly the most frequently seen one, Although still fairly common, has been largely replaced by the introduced Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta), in at least one or two reservoirs. It is thought that the two species compete for food. Primarily an inhabitant of reservoirs, ponds, rivers and relatively slow-flowing streams in low-lying country; less frequently seen in the more fast-flowing streams in hilly areas. Seems to be absent from mountain streams. Is both nocturnal and diurnal. Sometimes seen basking during the day. A very voracious feeder. Although aquatic, frequently wanders on land. A very common food market species in Hong Kong.
Diet: Feeds on fish and frogs and will accept carrion. In captivity eats meat, live and dead fish, frogs and fruit; is especially partial to the pond weed Hydrilla.
Reproduction: Pairing takes place in spring and egg-laying in summer. About 4-6 eggs are laid in June. Captive females buried their eggs in soft earth. Hatchlings about 2 cm in carapace length.
Distribution: Found in most of the reservoirs in Hong Kong Island and the New Territories; also on some of the smaller islands such as Cheung Chau and Peng Chau. Occurs extensively throughout China and as far north as Korea and Japan.
Diagnostic features: Carapace moderately dome-shaped; with three longitudinal keels; yellow stripes on the neck, breaking up into blotches on the side of the head; plastron yellowish-grey, not hinged, with a black blotch on each scute; melanistic forms completely black.