Black Spotted Turtle


Geoclemys hamiltonii

Common Names:

Black Pond Turtle, Black Spotted Turtle, Hamilton’s Terrapin, Spotted Pond Turtle


Black Spotted Turtle

Kingdom  :   Animalia
Phylum  :    Chordata
Class  :
Order  :
Family  :    Geoemydidae
Genus  :    Geoclemys
Species  :

Conservation Status:

IUCN :   Vulnerable
   Schedule I
   Appendix I 
U.S ESA :   Not listed


The species is found in north and north-eastern Indian subcontinent primarily in Inida, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The species is found in the Indus and Ganga river drainage, from Pakistan to Bangladesh and also in northeast India. It is also reported to be found in Gomti and Girwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh, Aravalli foothills and Gandak Dam in Bihar.


Distribution map of Black Spotted Turtle (Source: Das & Bhupathy, 2010)

Characteristics, Habitat and Behaviour:

As the name suggests, black spotted turtles are black in color with yellowish streaks or spots and wedge-shaped marks. Their head is black with yellow spots and is extremely large, short-snouted. The neck is greyish and has white spots. The skin at the backside of the forehead of this species is divided into shields. The carapace is convex and is strongly arched with sloping slides. The shell has three prominent and interrupted keels. It is a medium sized turtle with carapace length of 40.5 cm. The females are slightly larger than the males. However, the males have a thicker tail and concave plastra.

The black spotted turtles are freshwater turtles found in lentic water bodies. They are mainly carnivorous and feed on snails and insect larvae, however, vegetative material has also been found in some of the digestive tracts.

Major Threats:

  • Habitat loss due to land fillings and conversion of the lentic water bodies into agricultural land such as rice fields and for human settlements.
  • The species is subjected to commercial exploitation for meat consumption.
  • The species has also entered the pet markets in India and other countries such as the U.S., Western Europe and more recently in Southeast Asia. For this, it is being illegally traded at the international borders.


Das, I., & Bhupathy, S. (2010). Geoclemys hamiltonii (Gary 1830) - Spotted Pond Turtle, Black Pond Turtle. Chelonian Research Foundation.