hatchlings of painted terrapin

Result of Nest Patrol to Secure Terrapin Eggs 2017

The nest patrol activity was finished last mont. That five months nest patrol was successfully secured 424 eggs of 26 nests. Of that total number, 371 eggs was hatched while the other was failed. This year hatching rate is 87.5 percent, higher compared to last year. The hachlings produced this year is 371. All hatchlings produced are released immediately after hatched. So, as of 2017, the total hatchlings of Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) released into wild is 1,204. We are expecting this number will boost the wild population of this critically endangered terrapin in the future.

The patrol

Totally, we spent 131 days on the beach to carry out nest patrol. We were walking along the beach, about 3.2 km in length. So, we had to walk along 6.4 km every night, three hours per night and depend on the time of high tide. There was also a time when we had to walk two times every night: 7 pm and 5 am. That was happened when the high tide occurred early night (about 7 pm). Then, the high tide was started again at about 5 am. So, we had two chances that Painted Terrapin females would be emerged to the beach and nesting.

Nesting beach.

We secured 92 eggs of 5 nests on December 2016. On January, 259 eggs of 16 nests. In March, we found and secured 73 eggs of 5 nests. All eggs found were incubated on hatchery was built on the beach. During nest patrol, we were also measured the daily air temperature and humidity, sands (surface and 10 cm under the surface) temperature. The measurement of temperature and humidity was conducted manually four times per day: 4 am, 10 am, 4 pm and 10 pm. The temperature and humidity on the beach is very volatile, therefore by doing this, the average value is more represented. In addition, we found and marked 3 females on the beach. All are new individuals, not marked before.

The causes of declining

If we try to compare the result of this year nest patrol with last year, the total number of eggs and nests found and secured is declining sharply. Last year, our nest patrol was successfully secured 910 eggs of 51 nests. The decreasing is about fifty percent.

There are, at least, three reasons behind this declining. First is beach erosion. The erosion has caused about half of the nesting area lost. The place where we found about half of total nest secured last year, currently is lost.

The second reason is the massive trash on the beach. It produces obstacle for female to reach the higher area on the beach for nesting.

Reasons of declining

Third reason is shrimp traps. Fishermen who met with us said to us that some terrapins die because trapped in this traps. This kind of trap is used by fishermen to catch the shrimp. The traps are laid in riverbed. Banana and coconut are used as bait. Unfortunately, this bait is favorite for terrapin. We always use this bait in our capture-recaptured survey. Fishermen are checking that traps after some hours. Therefore, once the terrapin caught by that traps, it is impossible for them to taking air and breathe. We found two females corpse that become victim of this trap.

Do the hatchlings survive after released?

Of course, the question that lie in our mind is do they survive in wild after released?. This question is also in our mind. Therefore, efforts to get evidence to answer this question have been being conducted in the field and in progress. Although it is confirmed by some accidental sightings that the post-released hatchlings – indicated by mark on marginal carapace – are basking on logs at riverside, thus can be an indicator that they are successfully survive in rivers, but that is not sufficient. More surveys are necessary. This is not only to answer that question, but is also to be a tool for evaluation of our conservation method.

Post-released sub-juvenile of Painted Terrapin

Recent years, the findings of post-released hatchlings basking on logs are common for fishermen. Fishermen who usually ride their boat are common sighting the hathclings on some particular place (riverside). They said that was not common in previous years. In our trip from village to nest patrol camp and vice versa were also successfully observed that hatchlings. Even, we were able to see their mark on marginal carapace, although we could not identify their number precisely.

The latest releasing we did was on 1 December 2016. The sub-juvenile on picture 4 was photographed on 12 March. The location of we photographed that sub-juvenile is about 3 km from releasing site on December 2016. So, perhaps, they are the sub-juvenile was released on December 2016.

This can be a positive sign that the nest patrol and headstarting method is successful to recover sub-juvenile population. For wild adult population, it must be looked at long term, at least four to eight years later.

We would like to thanks to our partner Turtle Survival Alliance, Houston Zoo and Chester Zoo who supporting our works to conserve Painted Terrapin.

You are also able to support our works. If you would like to support us, you can donate to our paypal account through this link: Support Satucita Foundation


Poaching of Freshwater Turtle Seriously Impact on Endangered Species

Poaching of freshwater turtles to supply the food market has produced serious impact on endangered species. About a week ago, some carapace of Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) and hundreds of Cuora amboinensis carapace found in a poacher in Province of Kalimantan Tengah. This province is habitat for B. borneoensis, O. borneensis, B. affinis, C. amboinensis.

freshwater turtle carapace, included Painted Terrapin, for sell
freshwater turtle carapace, included Painted Terrapin, for sell (photo: WenDrakula)

According to an information, the poacher said that these carapaces are for sell, but he did not know what would be used for,may be for traditional medicine purpose. These carapaces are the rest of the individuals that had been killed for their meat. Then the meat was supplied to the consumer market.

The collectors claimed that they did not aware that some of these turtles are Painted Terrapin, a species  that facing extinction globally. They assumed that all are a same species – Malayan Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis). Cuora amboinensis is a species that permitted and has quota for sell, weather for pet or food.

This is an evidence that a lack of poacher’s knowledge has produced serious troubles to survival of population of endangered freshwater turtle. Therefore, a possibility that female of B. borneoensis and other endangered species such as O. borneensis were also killed in the past are extensive due to the poachers could not identify the species and their sex correctly.

Roni The Blind Painted Terrapin

Roni is a name given to an individual of freshwater turtlePainted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) – was born in our facility. He was born on March 26, 2013. His identity number is 80. The egg was found and secured from the beach on January 1, 2013, along with 14 another eggs in a nest located. However, from a total of 15 eggs in the clutch, only 9 eggs hatched successfully in rearing facility. Roni is one of them. Thus, it can be said that currently Roni has 8 brother / sister. But, only Roni who was born blind.

Roni the blind painted terrapin
Roni the blind painted terrapin

Although he is blind, his growth remains good. During April, his carapace length increased 1.1 cm, while width grew 1 cm. When he was born, the carapace length only 5.2 cm and 4.7 cm in wide. Now the carapace length is 6.3 cm and 5.7 cm in wide.

However, when compared with another hatchlings, his response to external stimulants is little slower. If another offspring diving immediately into the water when approached by people, he remained silent swimming on the surface. Therefore, we can catch him easily. Seeing this condition, we consider that Roni will not released into habitat because it would be easy for predators to catch him in the wild.

Roni the blind painted terrapin
Roni the blind painted terrapin

Nevertheless, he was still able to eat well. When we give food Kangkung (Ipomoea sp) or pellets into the pond, he was engaged to  chewed it with relish.

Bahasa Indonesia

Roni Si Kura-kura Buta

Roni adalah anak kura-kura air tawar (freshwater turtle species) Tuntung laut (Painted terrapin, Batagur borneoensis) yang menetas di fasilitas pembesaran . Ia lahir tanggal 26 Maret 2013. Ia adalah anak kura-kura ke 80 yang menetas di pembesaran. Karena itu, ia diberi nomor 80. Telur Roni diamankan dari pantai pada tanggal 1 Januari 2013, bersama dengan 14 telur lainnya yang terletak  di dalam satu sarang. Namun, dari total 15 telur di dalam sarang itu, hanya 9 telur yang menetas dan Roni merupakan salah satunya. Dengan demikian, saat ini Roni memiliki 8 kakak/adik dari satu ibu. Hanya Roni yang terlahir buta.

Roni the blind painted terrapin
Roni the blind painted terrapin

Walaupun buta, pertumbuhannya tetap baik. Selama bulan April panjang karapasnya bertambah 1,1 cm, sedangkan lebarnya bertambah 1 cm. Ketika ia lahir, panjang karapasnya hanya 5,2 cm dan lebarnya 4,7 cm. Kini panjang karapasnya 6,3 cm dan lebarnya 5,7 cm.

Namun, jika dibandingkan dengan tukik yang lain, responnya terhadap stimulan sedikit lebih lambat. Jika tukik yang lain segera masuk ke air ketika mengetahui ada orang mendekat di kolam, ia tetap diam berenang di permukaan air. Bahkan, kami dapat menangkapnya dengan mudah. Melihat kondisi ini sepertinya Roni tidak akan kami lepas ke habitat karena ia akan mudah dimangsa predator di alam.

Roni the blind painted terrapin
Roni the blind painted terrapin

Meskipun begitu, ia tetap dapat makan dengan baik. Ketika kami memberi makanan kangkung atau pelet ke dalam kolam, ia pun bergerak mencapainya dan mengunyahnya dengan lahap.

The offspring of painted terrapin is basking

The babies of  Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) is basking in the pond at our rearing facility. Usually, they are basking as a group and about half to one hour at basking area in the ponds. But, if they aware of our present they move to water immediately. I often found this situation. Therefore, the best way to see them is from far.

the offspring is basking in the pond (photo: satucita foundation)
the offspring is basking in the pond (photo: satucita foundation)

Their behavior to avoid human is a good sign to support their conservation in the habitat. We hope that they are also will avoid human present after released in the habitat. Through this way, they will not caught easily by human who want to capture them. Painted terrapin is still one the most wanted species to sell in local illegal market.

the offspring is basking in the pond (photo: satucita foundation)
the offspring is basking in the pond (photo: satucita foundation)

Painted terrapin is a species of freshwater turtles that facing extinction. This species included in top twenty five of freshwater turtles, tortoises and terrapins in endangered situation in the world. We are actively to conserve them currently, either through ex-situ or in-situ activities. They are a part of our initiative in conservation of freshwater turtles, tortoises and terrapins in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

The hatchlings growth well after raised a month

After about a month raised at headstarting facility, the hatchlings of Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) are growth well. On 4 of May measurement, the average weight is 49 gram, length of carapace is 6,2 cm and width of carapace is 5,8 cm. In previous measurement on 30 March, their average weight was 41 gram, length of carapace 5,4 cm and width of carapace 5,1 cm.  It can be said that average growth for April is 16 percent. To monitoring the individual growth, each hatchling marked with number on plastron.

ID number
ID number

Conservation of freshwater turtles, tortoise and terrapin must be based on the natural behavior. Currently, the hatchlings are raised in two ponds at our headstarting facility. Fifty hatchlings are in a larger pond and the rest are in another smaller pond. This is to give larger space for them to swim or move in the ponds. Water in the ponds is replaced twice a week to keep the cleanliness of the ponds. Water salinity and pH are also controlled.

The food is combined of kangkung (Ipomoea aquatica), fruit berembang (Sonneratia sp), pellets.

measuring the the length of carapace, etc
measuring the the length of carapace, etc

In Bahasa Indonesia:

Setelah sebulan dibesarkan di  fasilitas pembesaran, bayi kura-kura tumbuh dengan baik. Saat ini, berat rata-rata mereka adalah 4,7 gram, panjang karapas 6,2 cm dan lebar karapas 5,8 cm. Saat pengukuran sebelumnya pada tanggal 30 Maret, berat rata-rata hanya 4,1 gram, panjang tempurung 5,4 cm dan lebar tempurung 5,1 cm. Terjadi pertumbuhan rata-rata untuk bulan April sebesar 16 persen. Untuk memantau pertumbuhan individu, setiap bayi kura-kura ditandai dengan nomor di plastron.

carapace of hatchling
carapace of hatchling

Pelestarian kura-kura, termasuk merawat kura-kura, harus didasarkan pada perilaku alamiah mereka. Saat ini, keseluruahn anak kura-kura dibesarkan di dua kolam yang ada di fasilitas pembesaran. Sebanyak 50 ekor di kolam yang berukuran lebih besar, sedangkan sisanya sebanyak 30 ekor di kolam yang lebih kecil. Hal ini dilakukan untuk memberikan ruang yang lebih besar bagi mereka untuk berenang dan bergerak di dalam kolam. Air di kolam diganti dua kali seminggu untuk tetap menjaga kebersihan kolam. Tingkat salinitas dan keasaman air juga dikontrol setiap minggu.

Hingga saat ini, makanan dikombinasikan dari kangkung (Ipomoea aquatica), buah berembang (Sonneratia sp.) dan pelet.

Cyclemys oldhami

Cyclemys oldhamii
Cyclemys oldhami (photo: jokoguntoro)

Oldham turtle (Cyclemys oldhami) or Kura-kura Oldham is a medium sized turtle, that can grow up to 15 – 24cm. Very similar to Cyclemys dentata. They have webbed feet and are highly aquatic, especially as juveniles, however, they tend to become more terrestrial as they get older with adults spending more time on land. This species is omnivorous, feeds on fruit, carrion, fish and crustaceans. 7 to 10 eggs laid up to 3 times per year.

carapace of C. oldhami (photo: satucita foundation)
carapace of C. oldhami (photo: satucita foundation)

Inhabit streams in mountain forests. Their geographic range extends from Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java. They are also found on a few Indonesian islands (Borneo, Bali, Java and Sumatra). It is uncertain whether or not their range extends into China. In IUCN they listed as Near Threathened.

plastron of C. oldhami (photo: satucita foundation)
plastron of C.oldhami (photo: satucita foundation)

Forest softshell turtle

Forest Soft-shell Turtle (Dogania subplana) or Labi-labi hutan or Bulus hutan (local name in Indonesia), is an elusive species of clear, fast-flowing streams and quiet muddy backwaters. Lying partly submerged in the substrate, the distinctive patterning helps in its camouflage. However, the pairs of eyespots or ocelli on the carapace tend to stand out.

Asian soft-shell turtle (Dogania subplana) (photo: satucita foundation)
Asian soft-shell turtle (Dogania subplana) (photo: satucita foundation)

The neck is long : the upper surface bears longitudinal stripes and the underside is orange in colour. The head is relatively large and the nose tubular in shape, contributing to its charming appearance. The forefeet are greenish.

carapace of D.subplana
carapace of D.subplana (photo: satucita foundation)

The species ranges from Kalimantan, Sumatra, the Natuna Islands, Java. Can grow up to carapace length about 35 cm. Local people often eat this species. This species is listed in IUCN as Least Concern.

Facts about turtles

  • Consist of 331 species – turtles, freshwater turtles, tortoises, terrapins and sea turtles – throughout the world.
  • The only place where turtles are can’t live is Antarctica.
  • They are only vertebrates on Earth whose arms connect to their body.
  • The most freshwater turtles are temperature-dependent sex determinant. High temperature produce female, while low temperature produce male.
English: Adult Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherba...
English: Adult Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle Türkçe: yumurta bırakmak için gece kumsala çıkmış bir deri sırtlı deniz kaplumbağası (Dermochelys coriacea) görüntüsüdür. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Turtles have been on the earth for more than 200 million years. They evolved before mammals, birds, crocodiles, snakes, and even lizards. Turtles are one of the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles and have outlived many other species. One can only wonder if their unique shell is responsible for their longevity. But, a newest study shows that they are not too primitive and more related to bird.
  • The earliest turtles had teeth and could not retract their heads, but other than this, modern turtles are very similar to their original ancestors.
aldabra tortoise
aldabra tortoise
  • Several species of turtles can live over a hundred years of age, for example Aldabra tortoise. A documented case of longevity involves an adult Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise that, when captured as an adult, was estimated to be fifty years old. It then lived another 152 years in captivity.
  • Turtles have good eyesight and an excellent sense of smell. Hearing and sense of touch are both good and even the shell contains nerve endings.
  • Some aquatic turtles can absorb oxygen through the skin on their neck and cloacal areas allowing them to remain submerged underwater for extended periods of time and enabling them to hibernate underwater. All turtles can go without oxygen for several hours, but the western painted turtle can go without oxygen for 30 hours at room temperature and four months at 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
painted turtle (photo:www.ridgefieldbirds.com)
  • Turtles will live in almost any climate warm enough to allow them to complete their breeding cycle.
  • Most freshwater turtles do not tolerate the cold well, but the Blanding’s turtle has been observed swimming under the ice in the Great Lakes region.
  • Turtles range in size from the 4-inch such as Bog Turtle to the 1500-pound such as Leatherback turtle (a species of sea turtle). The biggest freshwater turtle ever found is Rafetus swinhoei in Vietnam.
Rafetus swinhoei
Rafetus swinhoei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • North America, China and Indonesia have a large variety of turtle species, but Europe contains only two species of turtle and three species of tortoise.
  • The top domed part of a turtle’s shell is called the carapace, and the bottom underlying part is called the plastron.
  • The shell of a turtle is made up of 60 different bones all connected together.
  • The bony portion of the shell is covered with plates (scutes) that are derivatives of skin and offer additional strength and protection.
  • Most land tortoises have high, domed carapaces that offer protection from the snapping jaws of terrestrial predators. Aquatic turtles tend to have flatter, more aerodynamically shaped shells.
red eared slider (photo:naturemappingfoundation)
  • A species of freshwater turtles Red Eared Slider is the most invasive species in the world.

Chinese soft-shell turtle

Labi-labi china (local name) or Chinese soft-shell (Pelodiscus sinensis) turtle has a oval carapace without scutes. It is smooth and leathery in adults, while juveniles have rows of small bumps along the back. The plastron in adults is cream, grey or yellow with no patterns, while juveniles have pinkish-red plastrons with black blotches. The body is olive to greyish-green and are unpatterned in adults, with light spots and fine radiating black lines around the eyes in juveniles. It grows to 25 cm long.

Pelodiscus sinensis (photo: satucita foundation)
Pelodiscus sinensis (photo: satucita foundation)

This freshwater turtle is non native to Indonesia. Spread to Indonesia estimated about 1970 when imported to meet the local demand for consumption. High demand make local businnes owner tried to breed it. But, due to the decreasing in local demand make this was lost profit and could not continue. Then, the business could not manage the ponds (in hectares). Thousands individuals of this species spread to rivers in City of Medan and now spread anywhere become invasive.

carapace of Pelodiscus sinensis (photo: satucita foundation)
carapace of Pelodiscus sinensis (photo: satucita foundation)

The Chinese Softshell Turtle inhabits freshwater habitats including ponds, marshes and rivers. It usually stays buried in the substrate to ambush its prey and is rarely seen basking. It feeds on small invertebrates including mussels and insects. Oviparous; clutches comprise of 9–28 eggs and incubation takes about 40–80 days.

plastron of Pelodiscus sinensis (photo: satucita foundation)
plastron of Pelodiscus sinensis (photo: satucita foundation)

This softshell turtle is non native for Indonesia and considered as invasive species. IUCN: Vulnerable

Chelodina mccordi

Kura-kura leher ular kepulauan rote is a name to call this freshwater turtle species in Bahasa Indonesia. It belongs to the genus Chelodina (Australian snake-necked turtles) within the family of Side-necked turtles (Chelidae). Roti Island snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi) is an extremely threatened turtle species from Rote Island south west of Timor and north of Australia.

Chelodina mccordi (photo: CITES)

The carapace can reach a length between 18 and 24 centimetres. The length of the neck is similar. The color of the carapace is pale grey brown. Occasionally there are also specimens which have a chestnut coloured hue. The plastron is pale buff white. The neck is dark brown on the upperparts with round tubercles. The underparts are beige white. The iris is black surrounded by a white ring. Its habitat are swamps, rice terraces, and small lakes.

English: Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle (Chel...

This freshwater turtle was split from the New Guinea snake-necked turtle and regarded as distinct species in 1994 after Dr. Anders Rhodin, director of the Chelonian Research Foundation in Lunenburg (Massachusetts), found out that there are differences between the two species. The first snake-necked turtles on Roti Island were discovered in 1891 by George Albert Boulenger. They were named for Dr. William McCord, a veterinary and turtle expert from Hopewell Junction, New York.

Chelodina mccordi (photo:http://alioting.blogspot.com)
Chelodina mccordi (photo:http://alioting.blogspot.com)

A clutch can consist of 8 to 14 and it can have three breeding periods in one year. The size of the eggs is 30 x 20 mm and the weight can reach eight to ten grams. The first hatchlings come after three months, the last after four months. When they hatch they have a size of 28 x 20 mm and they have yellow spots on the plastron which become darker with the time until the plastron becomes almost black after a few weeks. During the growing period the coloring becomes more pale until they finally reach the color of the adults.



IUCN Red List