The Indian peacock softshell turtle is a visually fascinating turtle native to South Asia. As a threatened species, the Indian peacock softshell needs help to prevent it from eventually becoming extinct.
The first step towards preventing the extinction of any species is always education surrounding the animal in question. Bearing this in mind, we’ll be teaching you everything you need to know about the Indian peacock softshell turtle today, from its identifying features to its care requirements.
Male vs. Female
It is quite tricky to tell male and female Indian peacock softshell turtles apart, especially if you haven’t had much experience identifying turtles.
Male Indian peacock softshells typically have thicker tails than their female counterparts, and these tails are also usually longer.
Apart from that, males and females of the species look very much the same.
The Indian peacock softshell turtle is most easily identified by its unique facial features. Its nose, in particular, is snout-like and turned downwards. It actually looks a bit like a snorkel.
In addition to the shape of the nose, you will also be able to see patches of orange and, sometimes, gray.
This turtle species has a relatively flat shell that is usually olive in color with a yellow rim. Round bumps around the shell can also be observed.
Adults of the species have white underbellies, although juvenile turtles are darker in color in this area.
The average length for the Indian peacock softshell is 60 cm or roughly 23 inches.
As a Pet
In their native country of India, it is illegal to keep an Indian peacock softshell turtle as a pet.
For the same reason, this turtle is not a popular choice of pet, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a reputable breeder who will sell one to you.
On the rare occasion that this turtle species is kept as a pet, the Indian peacock softshell requires quite an advanced level of care that not many people will be able to provide.
In the wild, and in the correct habitat, an Indian peacock softshell turtle can live for an impressive 50 years!
The same is true for most other softshell turtles, although precise lifespans can range between 20 and 50 years.
Softshell turtles like the Indian peacock softshell have little in the way of protection when it comes to physical armor.
Instead, these turtles protect themselves by staying submerged in water for most of their lives. In order to do this effectively, the Indian peacock softshell has adapted to have a very long neck in addition to a snorkel-shaped nose.
These features allow it to breathe easily while remaining mostly submerged, and its long neck also enables it to reach food from a safe depth and distance.
Females of the Indian peacock softshell species lay clutches of eggs between the months of August and November.
Did you know that Indian peacock softshell turtles can lay up to 20 to 30 eggs at a time? The hatching season is between June and July, so eggs typically take about 8 months to hatch.
Like most softshell turtles, the Indian peacock softshell is slow to mature. The males reach maturity sooner, taking roughly 4 years. However, the females need 8 years to reach sexual maturity.
As hatchlings, Indian peacock softshell turtles live in shallow areas of water that their smaller necks will allow them to submerge in safely.
Once the turtles have reached maturity (4 years for males and between 7 and 9 years for females), they will often move into deeper water.
Female Indian peacock softshells will typically produce a clutch of eggs per year until the eventual decline in fertility that correlates with age.
Sadly, the Indian peacock softshell turtle population is decreasing. As of right now, the species is considered to be vulnerable in terms of the IUCN’s conservation status spectrum.
The Vulnerable category comes after Least Concern and Near Threatened. It is less alarming than the other two sections under the umbrella of Threatened (Endangered and Critically Endangered). What this means is that, while the situation of the Indian peacock softshell turtle population is not ideal by any means, it’s not too late to turn it around.
Because the Indian peacock softshell turtle thrives in the water, aquatic environments are where the species finds most of its food in the wild.
Its diet consists of a wide range of water-dwelling animals and organisms, from catfish to crustaceans and clams. These turtles can eat prawns, mollusks, and larvae, although the latter is usually reserved for juveniles.
Occasionally, Indian peacock softshells will eat vegetables and plant matter, but they are mostly carnivorous when given the choice.
Indian peacock softshells can be preyed upon by birds and snakes, although these animals primarily target the eggs for an easier meal.
Sadly, humans are actually the number 1 predator and threat to Indian peacock softshell turtles. In fact, the main reason why these turtles are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN is that humans have long targeted them for their meat.
Indian peacock softshell turtles can be found distributed across a wide area, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and of course, India).
In addition to the common diseases that many aquatic turtles can carry (and spread), such as salmonella, the Indian peacock softshell turtle is prone to a number of diseases.
Softshells’ shells can become easily fractured, which may lead to bacterial infection. These turtles may also pick up parasites from their water habitats.
Indian peacock softshells have dark brown eyes with black pupils. A pale ring can sometimes be observed around the pupil.
As is the case with a great many softshell turtle species, the Indian peacock softshell hibernates from autumn until spring.
This hibernation routine provides the turtles with additional protection in the colder months, not just from winter weather but from predators.
Indian peacock softshells will dig nests in the sand or mud in the vicinity of their preferred body of water and re-emerge in the spring.
Can They Swim?
Indian peacock softshell turtles are excellent swimmers and spend more time in the water than on land. As mentioned previously, this is mainly a survival mechanism to compensate for the softness of their shells, which could make them vulnerable to predators.
We’ve already mentioned that Indian peacock softshell turtles are not typically kept as pets. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you would ever find yourself in the position of providing care for one of these turtles.
With that being said, the care guidelines for Indian peacock softshells are generally the same as those for most other softshell species.
You’ll need a large tank to keep your turtle in. We recommend at least 100 gallons if you want to provide the best quality of life for your Indian peacock softshell.
Keep the temperature in the tank between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure to provide substrate or sand at the bottom of the tank so that the turtle can engage in its normal burying activities. There should also be a reliable UVB lighting system operating in the tank during the day.
You should feed an Indian peacock softshell what it would normally eat in the wild. So, a combination of small fish, prawns, crustaceans, and aquatic invertebrates.
In your turtle’s juvenile years, larvae are a good food choice. It’s also a good idea to incorporate vegetation into your turtle’s diet for nutritional variety, although you will need to check that it is not in any way toxic. Your turtle may also turn its nose up at your vegetable offering in favor of a meatier meal.
Feed your turtle twice every day, introducing food directly into the water where possible. You might need to take the turtle to a vet for specific guidelines on how much food you should be giving every day since nutritional requirements change throughout the turtle’s life cycle.
To keep your turtle healthy and minimize its risk of illness, make sure that your tank has a working filter and stick to a regular cleaning schedule using a terrarium-approved disinfectant.
Keeping a turtle, in general, is not a cheap undertaking. Turtle experts estimate that caring for a turtle can set you back between $200 and $500 every year.
For an Indian peacock softshell turtle, which can live up to 5 decades and requires more advanced care than many other species, the costs are likely to be further towards the upper end of this estimate. And that’s without even considering the cost of the turtle itself!
- Indian peacock softshell turtles have been known to enjoy human sweet treats, such as palm sugar and rice.
- Depending on how much oxygen is available in a given body of water, Indian peacock softshell turtles can stay underwater for anywhere between 1 to 10 hours.
- The neck of the Indian peacock softshell is so long that it can reach almost the whole way around its body at full extension.