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Caspian turtle (Mauremys caspica rivulata), El-Al river, Israel

The Caspian turtle or Striped-neck terrapin (Mauremys caspica) is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae (=Bataguridae), living of the eastern Mediterranean region. It ranges from southwestern former USSR and central Iran to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel and Lebanon, northward through Turkey to Bulgaria, and through Cyprus, Crete, and the Ionian Peninsula to former Yugoslavia.


DescriptionEdit

This is a tan to blackish, medium-sized (to 25 cm), semi-aquatic turtle. Its low, oval carapace has a slight medial keel (better developed in juveniles) and a smooth unserrated marginal border, which is slightly upturned and tapered above the tail. A pair of low lateral keels are present on the pleural scutes of hatchlings but these become lower with age and disappear completely in adults. The carapace is tan to olive or black with yellow to cream-colored reticulations patterning the scutes, and some individuals have yellow vertebral stripes. These light lines fade with age but the pleural seam borders become darker. The well-developed plastron is notched posteriorly. The plastral formulae are given in the subspecies descriptions under Geographic Variation. The plastron is either yellow with variable reddish to dark-brown blotches, or dark brown or black with a yellow blotch along the lateral scute borders. The bridge is either yellow with dark seam borders and dark spots on the corresponding marginals, or almost totally black with a few small yellow marks. The head is not enlarged, and is olive to dark brown with yellow or pale cream-colored stripes. Some stripes extend anteriorly from the neck onto the head. One of these on each side passes above the eye and onto the snout where it meets the stripe from the other side. Several others extend across the tympanum to contact the posterior rim of the orbit, and two additional stripes continue across the snout and pass ventral to the orbit. Neck, limbs, and tail are tan gray to olive or black with yellow, cream, or gray stripes or reticulations. M. caspica has 52 chromosomes; (Killebrew, 1977a; Bickham and Carr, 1983). Females are generally larger than males, have flat plastra and shorter tails with the vent under the rim of the carapace. The smaller males have concave plastra and longer, thicker tails with the vent beyond the rim of the carapace.

IN The UKEdit

It is occasionally imported to Britain and but rarely encountered. However there is a small population breeding in devon of aroung a dosen breeding pairs. It can tolerate polluted or brackish water. The stripe-necked terrapin looks similar to the European pond terrapin but with distinct stripes on the neck and usually a central keel down the back of the shell. The shell is grey-brown or greenish and up to 20cm long.