The African Helmeted Turtle is a relatively small turtle with a shell length of 15-18 cm (6 to 7) as an adult. The shell is very thin oval shaped, and brown to olive in color. The head is brown to olive colored and may be mottled with darker or lighter tones. The tops of the tail and limbs are a grayish brown, while the underside is yellowish. They are found throughout Africa, as far west as Ghana, and south all the way to the Cape of Africa. It has also been recorded in parts of Madagascar, and is undistinguishable from those in east Africa. They are semi-aquatic animals, living in marshes, creeks and rain holes. During the dry season, they will bury themselves in the bottoms of mud pools and estivate until the next rainy season, where they travel from mud hole to mud hole, distributing themselves widely. When eating and courting, the relatively small African Helmeted Turtle becomes quite aggressive. During feeding, it will seize its prey in its mouth and tear it to shreds with its forefoot claws. Where populations are dense, and competition for food becomes heightened, several turtles may attack larger prey together, and drag it underwater before tearing it apart. The African Helmeted Turtle often basks midday in temperate climates where the sun is not too hot. It has a carnivorous diet, feeding on a variety of insects, small crustaceans, fish, earthworms and snails. In large groups they will drown and eat small aquatic birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Credits go to: Honolulu Zoo