Peacock Soft Shell Turtle


Nilssonia hurum

Common Names:

Indian Peacock Softshell Turtle, Peacock Soft-shelled Turtle


Peacock Soft Shell Turtle

Kingdom   :    Animalia
  :    Chordata
Class  :
Order  :
Family  :    Trionychidae
Genus  :    Nilssonia
Species  :

Conservation status:

IUCN :   Vulnerable
   Schedule I
   Appendix I
   Not listed



Distribution map of Indian Peacock Softshell Turtle (Source: Iverson and Iverson, 1992).

This species is confined to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is widespread in the northern and central parts of the Indian subcontinent.

Characteristics, Habitat and Behaviour:

The Indian peacock softshell turtle has a large head, downturned snout with low and oval carapace of dark olive green to nearly black, sometimes with a yellow rim. The head and limbs are olive green; the forehead has dark reticulations and large yellow or orange patches or spots, especially behind the eyes and across the snout, that are larger than those in its sister species. Males possess relatively longer and thicker tails than females, with the cloaca situated close to the tail-tip.

Indian peacock softshell turtle is found in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds with mud or sand bottoms. It is omnivorous, juveniles observed feeding on mosquito larvae and fish, while adults consume snails, earthworms, prawns, fish, frogs, carrion, and vegetation. Animals maintained in captivity are known to eat rice and palm sugar sweetmeats.

Major Threats:

  • The species is heavily exploited for its meat and calipee (the outer cartilaginous rim of the shell).
  • Threats in the River Ganga to the species are those generic for all large river turtles, including reduction of fish stock, as a result of overfishing, pollution, increase in river traffic, and sand-mining, among others.


Iverson, J.B., & Iverson, E.J.B. (1992). A revised checklist with distribution maps of the turtles of the world (No. C/598.13 I9).