The Indian tent turtle (Pangshura tentoria) is a species of slider turtle that is native to, as the name suggests, India and Bangladesh. These turtles are also aptly named for their tent-like shell that grows taller than other slider’s shells. Here is the ultimate guide to the unique Indian tent turtle!
Male vs Female
The main distinguishing factor between male and female Indian tent turtles is that males have a distinctively brighter coloration than females. This means that the shell and the pink seams of the carapace (shell) are brighter and more vivid than a female Indian tent turtle.
As with the majority of turtle species, the female Indian tent turtle grows to be larger than the male. Males can grow between 3.5”-5” on average, while females usually grow between 5”-11”. The males, however, have a longer and thicker tail.
While Indian tent turtles are a very small slider breed, these few inches matter – remember, the females are the ones who lay all the eggs!
Indian tent turtles are most commonly identified by their distinctive shell. The carapace is shaped like a tent, with a tall arch in the middle as if it’s been held up by a tent pole. Like the majority of sliders, their necks are retractable. This means that when they are basking, their necks are extended.
In terms of coloration, Indian tent turtles have a couple of small distinctive characteristics that are useful for identification. Along the seam of the carapace of an Indian tent turtle is a pink band that gives them their other common name, the Indian pinked ring tent turtle.
These turtles also sport one to two brownish (or often red) dots just behind their eyes. This is an important identification characteristic, as it distinguishes them from their similar counterpart, the Indian roofed turtle (who sport crescent-shaped red marks behind their eyes instead of dots).
As a Pet
Unlike most turtle breeds, Indian tent turtles are surprisingly friendly! Once they become attached to their owner(s), they aren’t likely to exhibit acts of stress or aggression.
Of course, they will let you know if they’re not in the mood to be held. Still, this is the main reason why Indian tent turtles can make an excellent pet – especially for beginners!
While they might be small, Indian tent turtles require an adequate-sized aquarium. These are aquatic turtles, which means they need an aquarium that holds a lot of water and a suitable dry area under a warm lamp for basking.
Their size means that domestic predators such as dogs and cats are likely to try and play with them (or…worse), so it is essential that their home is properly secured and predator-proof.
As with all turtles (and reptiles, for that matter), Indian tent turtles require specific temperatures in their aquarium. A change in temperature can affect the lifespan, health, and breeding cycle of the turtle. The general rule of thumb is to keep the water at a temperature between 70-82 °F, and the basking area must be warmer at around 85-95 °F.
To achieve this, owners should find an adequate light source (commonly a UV light) that keeps the basking area warm throughout the day and night. This is to replicate natural sunlight.
Unlike a lot of other turtles, Indian tent turtles don’t have a long lifespan. Their average lifespan ranges between 10 and 15 years. Domestic Indian tent turtles are likely to live longer than wild ones, as they are not exposed to as many predators.
As with most aquatic turtles, Indian tent turtles have adapted their tails in size. This is because they have the ability to breathe through their buttholes – a process called cloacal respiration.
During the hibernation season, the turtles will lie at the bottom of the water and the cloacae will take in the oxygen from the water, allowing them to “breathe”. The enlarged tails allow them to do this expertly.
The breeding season begins in October and lasts around six months, ending in March.
Females typically lay two clutches of eggs throughout the year, averaging to around 3-10 eggs per clutch. The eggs are white and usually elongated. The incubation period is unclear as it mostly depends on the climate.
Indian tent turtles can reach their full size at around 6 months to a year old. These are small turtles that can range between 3.5”-11” in length depending on their sex.
Not much can be said on the life cycle of an Indian tent turtle. They lead fairly simple lives, reaching maturity at around 2 years of age and then living for between 10-15 years. During this time, females can produce two clutches of eggs per year.
Indian tent turtles are endemic to India and Bangladesh. Their population in the wild is unclear, but they are of the least concern when it comes to their conservation status.
In the wild, Indian tent turtles are omnivorous and will eat anything from small aquatic animals to plants. When kept as a pet, their diet consists of leafy greens, fruits, worms, shrimps, crickets, and commercial turtle foods to meet their nutritional needs.
In the wild, Indian tent turtles are exposed to an abundance of omnivorous predators due to their size. However, as they have the ability to hold their breaths for extended periods, they can protect themselves in the water depths.
Their predators include reptiles like water monitors, mugger crocodiles, and crabs. When kept as pets, their main predators are dogs and cats.
Indian tent turtles are native to India and Bangladesh, so it’s very rare to see them in other Asian countries. They are aquatic turtles, so they are commonly found in or near water habitats like rivers and marshes.
Indian tent turtles are exposed to diseases as with the majority of turtle species. This includes:
- Shell rot, infections, or injuries
- Respiratory disease
- Eye infections
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Metabolic bone disease
Respiratory diseases are the biggest concern for domestic Indian tent turtles. If they aren’t given an adequate space for basking, they can easily drown and gain infections. This is especially the case if they attempt to hibernate and rely on cloacal breathing, as the water temperature won’t be cold enough for their metabolism to properly slow down. This is why the water temperature must be consistent.
Indian tent turtles have light, pale green eyes. Behind the eyes are a couple of distinctive brownish red spots.
Most turtle species hibernate during the winter months. The general rule of thumb is that if a turtle lives further from the equator, they hibernate for longer due to the colder temperatures. As Indian tent turtles are native to warm climates, they should only hibernate between 2 and 4 months.
In preparation for the hibernation process, the turtles will stock themselves up on food and make a protective den in the water. This usually consists of rocks and logs, which can be structured by owners if the turtle is domesticated.
Can they swim?
Indian tent turtles are aquatic turtles, meaning they spend the majority of their time in the water either swimming or lounging. Like all reptiles, they will resort to a basking area (usually a log, flat stone, or river bed) to regulate their body temperature.
Indian tent turtles are fairly straightforward to care for. The only strict requirements for these turtles are the temperature of the water and the basking area, but the same goes for the majority of turtle species.
Their food must be a balance between meat and fish (worms and shrimps, for example) and vegetables (leafy greens), along with commercial turtle food to meet their nutritional needs.
It’s not easy to give an exact figure of the monthly or yearly costs for owning an Indian tent turtle, as there are so many factors to consider. Vet bills can be anywhere between $45 and several hundred dollars depending on the issue, and then you have to think about the cost of food, cleaning, and energy bills.
Regarding the cost of an Indian tent turtle, they can cost anywhere from $10 to $100 depending on the seller. It is essential to purchase a turtle from an established breeder to avoid contributing to the exotic pet trade.
Established breeders should also give a medical history for each animal, which will give you an idea of future veterinary costs.
- When Indian tent turtles mate, the male will perform an underwater dance that consists of swimming around the female with its claws extended. If the female isn’t interested, she’ll swim away. If she stays put, the male turtle will grab onto her shell, and the rest is history!
- Younger Indian tent turtles are more likely to be carnivorous, and then will turn to a predominantly herbivorous diet when they age
- These turtles are intelligent and friendly, so they can form bonds with other turtles and humans