Monsters from the Golden Coast

Ivory Coast Mud Turtle, Pelusios cupulatta, pelusios, west african mud turtle

I really look forward to the Doncaster IHS meetings. Although the June show seems pretty quiet in comparison to the later events in the year, there’s always some really interesting breeding projects on show, and loads of reptile enthusiasts milling around to have a natter with and share info. Once again I attended the Saturday conference as well as the Sunday show, and it was really interesting to hear about important issues in our hobby and the direction reptile and amphibian keeping is moving towards. Top of the agenda this conference was the decision to stop particular genetic lines being offered for sale at future shows; Enigma Leopard Geckos, Spider Ball (Royal) Pythons, and Jaguar Carpet Pythons, all of which have been linked to neurological problems in offspring. I think this decision has been a long time coming but it’s really encouraging to see the reptile hobby moving away from these questionable breeding ethics.

This show I had 8¬†Rhinoclemmys¬†wood turtles available from my year’s clutches which are now off to new homes. Each clutch seems to get better and better with this species, particularly with my new heavy-feeding regime which seems to have grown the hatchlings into strong young turtles after just a couple of months. I still have around a dozen eggs incubating, although after last month’s issues most of these aren’t due to hatch until August at the earliest. Hopefully I will have some more available for the September show. I did of course pick up a few new species at the show, all of which I’ll write about over the next few weeks once I finalise their new enclosures and get them through precautionary treatments. Owning so many turtles of different species now, I opt to prophylactically treat for worms and bacterial infections on arrival, to be safe rather than sorry.

The biggest arrival to my collection was a whopping pair of Ivory Coast Mud Turtles (Pelusios cupulatta), a newly described species out of West Africa. Both adults are already over 1kg in weight, with monstrous heads and a surprisingly gentle nature.

Truth be told, this family of turtles wasn’t even on my radar until recently; last year I was offered some young Pelusios castaneus, and although I decided not to buy them at the time, it planted Pelusios in the forefront of my mind; when this pair came up for sale I was fascinated.

Both the specimens I collected from the June show have an amazingly smooth shell, with a beautiful black stripe running from head to tail. Like others in the genus, these turtles have a hinged plastron which allows them to close up almost entirely to protect themselves when threatened. Their stocky build and huge heads made me think they would be somewhat more fiesty when handled, but they appear to be gentle giants and rather shy in nature.

Being so newly described, I am having to pool information predominantly about Pelusios niger, a closely related species, to inform their captive care and future breeding plans. At the moment I am focusing on increasing their overall condition and making sure they are in tip-top shape through diet, enrichment and habitat before attempting to breed this species, and at the moment both the male and female are cohabiting without any issues or aggression.

I hope this has been of interest, if you have any questions feel free to drop me a message using the links below.

Paul Edmondson

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