River Terrapin


Batagura baska

Common Names:

Batagur, Common Batagur, Four-toed Terrapin, River Terrapin


River Terrapin

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

Conservation Status:

IUCN :   Critically Endangered
   Schedule I
   Appendix I


The River terrapin is found in India and Bangladesh (Sundarbans), Myanmar, Malaysia (peninsular), Indonesia (Sumatra), Thailand, and Cambodia (Stuart et al., 2001). It is regionally extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Distribution of Batagura baska (Source: Moll, 2009.)

Characteristics, Habitat and Behaviour:

The species has an upturned snout. Carapace is smooth and grey or black, while plastron is yellow to whitish. Front feet are broad and webbed with only four claws (other turtles have five). It has white eyes (Stuart et al., 2001). Females and juveniles are olive grey in color with grey to brown eyes. Males are darker, turning completely black during the breeding season with yellow or white eyes. Males have longer and thicker tails but are somewhat smaller in size.

It lives in coastal mangrove estuaries and creeks, but ventures far upstream during the breeding season. An omnivore, it feeds on waterside plants and small animals such as clams (Stuart et al., 2001). Females nest in sandbars and banks far upstream from the normal estuarine habitat during the breeding season, December to March.

Major Threats:

  • Hunting and harvesting of eggs.
  • Pollution and loss of habitat including nesting beaches, mangrove forest and other food sources.
  • Incidental drowning by getting trapped in fishing nets and traps, accidental death resulting from power boats.
  • Destructive fishing practices, siltation and sedimentation due to watershed activities such as logging.


CITES Management Authority of China (CNMA). (2002). Identification Manual for Common Turtle and Tortoises. China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, China.

Stuart, B.L., van Dijk. P.P., & Douglas B.H. (2001). Photographic Guide to the Turtles of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Design Group, Cambodia.

Moll, E.O (2009). Northern River Terrapin. Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtle: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs (ISSN 1088-7105) No.5