|Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle|
|Common Name||Red River Giant Softshell Turtle, Shanghai Softshell Turtle, or Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle.|
|Range||Vietnam and China.|
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is noted for its deep head with pig-like snout and eyes dorsally placed. This critically endangered species holds the title of being the largest freshwater turtle in the world. It measures over 100 cm (39 in) in length and 70 cm (28 in) in width, and weighs about 70–100 kg (150–220 lb). The specimen caught from Vietnam weighed over 200 kg (440 lb). Its carapace, or shell, can grow larger than 50 cm (20 in) in length and width. Its head can measure over 20 cm (7.9 in) in length and 10 cm (3.9 in) in width. The male is generally smaller than the female and has a longer, larger tail.
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle has been known to inhabit the Yangtze River and Lake Taihu, situated on the border of Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces, in eastern China, and Gejiu, Yuanyang, Jianshui and Honghe in Yunnan Province in southern China.
The last known specimen caught in the wild in China was in 1998 in the Red River between Yuanyang and Jianshui; it was then released. Only four specimens are known to live in Vietnam and China, one each at Hoàn Kiếm Lake (taxonomy questioned) and Dong Mo Lake Sơn Tây in Hanoi, Vietnam, and two in Suzhou zoo in China.
In 1999, 2000, and 2005, turtles have re-emerged from Hoan Kiem Lake on special occasions, when it was seen by a large audience and caught on film. Only a single turtle is believed to be left in the lake. In April 2011, it was captured because it had open sores that needed to be treated.
Ecology and Behavior
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle may lay from 60 to more than 100 eggs. It nests at night and during the morning.
A fertile female from Changsha Zoo was introduced to the only known male in China, a 100-year-old individual in Suzhou Zoo, in 2008. The female, who is over 80 years old, was said to settle in well after her 600-mile move, and biologists were optimistic for breeding success. The move was coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Survival Alliance. In July 2013 National Geographic reported that in the sixth breeding season for the Suzhou mating pair, no offspring have been produced.
Did you now that you can make a shadow puppet of a chamois?