Indian Flapshell Turtle: History of Indian Flapshell Turtle?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 29, 2022, 11:32

The Indian flapshell turtle is present across many states in India. This species serves as an evolutionary link between the hardshell and softshell turtles. Recently, they have been in the news when more than 50 turtles were found dead in a lake near Mumbai in January 2022. It is suspected that the locals poisoned the turtles. Such incidents highlight the survival threat this species is facing.

What is Indian Flapshell Turtle?

The Indian flapshell turtle is a species of freshwater turtle. This species gets its name from the femoral flaps present on the plastron. When these turtles withdraw into their skin, the flaps cover their limbs.

These turtles are small in size. Their carapace length ranges from 9.4 inches to 14.6 inches. The males of this species usually grow up to 9 inches. The females reach a maximum of about 14 inches.

Fossils of this species have been traced to the Miocene. This means this turtle species has been around for millions of years.

Distribution of the Indian Flapshell Turtle

Apart from India, the Indian flapshell turtle is found in several parts of South Asia. Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar are some of the places where this species has a widespread presence.

In India, this turtle has a presence in the desert ponds of Rajasthan and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Habitat of the Indian Flapshell Turtle

This turtle species lives in the stagnant and shallow waters of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Since the turtle tends to burrow, it prefers water bodies having muddy or sandy bottoms.

The Indian flapshell turtle can adapt to drought conditions. Some have been reported to survive under drought conditions for up to 160 days.

Threats Faced by the Indian Flapshell Turtle

These turtles are smuggled and killed due to many reasons, such as:

  • Freshwater turtles and their eggs are consumed as protein-rich food in many places.
  • These turtles are believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
  • The shell is supposed to have medicinal qualities and is used in traditional medicines.
  • Their skin is used to make leather.
  • The construction of barrages and dams impacts the natural habitat of these turtles.
  • Pollution and cultivation along the river banks threaten this species.
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Status of Indian Flapshell Turtle

  • The Indian flapshell turtle is listed in Appendix II under CITES.
  • Its status under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has been marked as vulnerable.

Indian Flapshell Turtle – Key Facts

  • The binomial name of this species is Lissemys punctata.
  • This species starts engaging in reproductive activities at ages 2 to 3.
  • The flapshell turtle has many nesting periods in a year between June and November.
  • They may lay eggs twice or thrice a year. At a time, 2 to 16 eggs are laid.
  • This omnivorous species survives on snails, shrimp, frogs, flowers, seeds, fruits, plant leaves, aquatic vegetation, and grasses.


The Indian flapshell turtle faces many smuggling and death incidents due to unnatural causes. If this trend is not checked, this species will also become endangered like many other animal species in India.

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FAQs about Indian Flapshell Turtle

How Does the Indian Flapshell Turtle Help an Aquatic Ecosystem?

The Indian flapshell turtle reduces pollution in an aquatic ecosystem by eating the insects, snails, and remains of dead animals.

Do the Flaps of the Indian Flapshell Turtle Offer Protection From Predators?

It is not known yet what type of protection the flaps of an Indian flapshell turtle offer against predators.

Is It Illegal to Possess the Indian Flapshell Turtle in India?

It isn’t illegal to possess the Indian flapshell turtle in India.

What Is the Lifespan of the Indian Flapshell Turtle?

The Indian flapshell turtle has a lifespan of 17.8 years when in captivity.

Who Are the Predators of the Indian Flapshell Turtle?

Some of the predators of this species include large fish, marsh crocodiles, wild pigs, otters, and even Indian softshell turtles.