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Black marsh turtle

Scientific name: Siebenrockiella crassicollisBlack marsh turtle

Country: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore

Continent: Asia

Diet: Worms, snails, shrimps and carrion

Food & feeding: Carnivore

Habitats: Freshwater, tropical rainforest

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Relatives: Giant tortoise, red-eared terrapin, Asian box turtles

Description: They are almost all black, with several white markings on their heads. The eyes are outlined in white but adult males lose these white markings. The feet are fully webbed. It is a small turtle that rarely reaches 20 cm.

Lifestyle: In the wild, these turtles inhabit freshwater ponds and lakes with muddy bottoms and lots of vegetation. They are also found in fish pools of the south-east Asian temples and are sometimes called the "bad-smelling turtle" although it is the pools rather than the turtles that are smelly.

Growing up: In a year, a female will lay three or four clutches of one or two eggs. Many of the young die at an early age and they take a long time to reach sexual maturity, which is one reason why there is concern for the survival of this species in the wild.

According to Thai legend the souls of people, who have died in the attempt to save others from drowning, live in these turtles.

Conservation news: The main threat to this species is collecting for food and there is an international trade in these turtles. Bristol Zoo Gardens has played a vital role in a European-wide rescue effort to protect this species, by successfully treating rescued captive turtles from the affects of pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition. The turtles are now healthy and will contribute to a breeding programme to ensure their species survival.

In December 2001 Bristol Zoo Gardens provided a home and veterinary care to several of the rare and endangered turtles rescued by the Turtle Survival Alliance from the trade for exotic meat.