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Citation: Midtgaard, Rune. RepFocus - A Survey of the Reptiles of the World. (www.repfocus.dk).
Latest update: July 16th, 2024.

Taxonomy of the family Pelomedusidae
Bibliography of the genus Pelusios
Biodiversity of the family Pelomedusidae


African Mud Turtles, African Hinged Terrapins


Afrikanske Klapskildpadder

1830 Pelusios Wagler (type species: Testudo subnigra Lacepede 1788)
1846 Pelusius Agassiz [substitute name] (syn. Fritz & Havas 2006)
1863 Anota Gray [not Anota Hallowell 1852 (Sauria)] (type species: Sternotherus niger Dumeril & Bibron 1835; syn. Fritz & Havas 2006)
1863 Notoa Gray (type species: Testudo subnigra Lacepede 1788; syn. Fritz & Havas 2006)
1863 Tanoa Gray (type species: Sternotherus sinuatus Smith 1838; syn. Fritz & Havas 2006)

Contents: 17 species, of which 1 (5.9%) is endemic.
Endemism: 0% 100%
Distribution: SubSaharan Africa, Madagascar.
Reported from: Angola (incl. Cabinda), Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea (Rio Muni), Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau (incl. Bijagos Archipelago), Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar (incl. Nosy Be), Malawi, Mali, Mozambique (incl. Bazaruto Archipelago), Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe (Sao Tome), Senegal, Seychelles (incl. Praslin), Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West Province), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania (incl. Pemba), Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Pelusios adansonii

Sahelian Mud Turtle, Sahelian Terrapin, (Adanson's Mud Turtle, Adanson's Hinged Terrapin)

Adansons Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte


1812 Emys adansonii Schweigger
Chelys adamsonii [lapsus] Gray in Griffith 1831
Hydraspis adansonii Gray 1831
Pentonyx andansonii Duméril & Bibron 1835
Pelomedusa adansonii Gray 1844
Sternotherus adansonii Duméril & Bibron in Duméril & Duméril 1851
Pelusios adansonii Schmidt 1919

Remarks: Listed to occur in Algeria by Trape, Trape & Chirio (2012), but presumably in error. Kenyan records refer to broadleyi (Bour 1986; Iverson 1992).
Distribution: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan.

Pelusios bechuanicus

Okavango Mud Turtle, Okavango Hinged Terrapin



1932 Pelusios bechuanicus Fitzsimons
Pelusios castaneus bechuanicus Mertens 1971

Distribution: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Pelusios broadleyi

Lake Turkana Mud Turtle, (Broadley's Mud Turtle)



1986 Pelusios broadleyi Bour

Distribution: Ethiopia, Kenya.

Pelusios carinatus

African Keeled Mud Turtle, Keel-backed Terrapin

Gekielte Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Kølrygget Klapskildpadde

1956 Pelusios carinatus Laurent

Distribution: Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Gabon.

Pelusios castaneus

Chestnut Mud Turtle, Chestnut Terrapin, (West African Mud Turtle, West African Hinged Terrapin)

Westafrikanische Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Kastaniebrun Klapskildpadde

1812 Emys castanea Schweigger
Pelusios castaneus Wagler 1830
Chelys castaneus Gray in Griffith 1831
Sternotherus castaneus Gray 1831
Clemmys castanea Fitzinger 1835
Sternothaerus nigricans castaneus Siebenrock in Voeltzkow 1906
Pelusios nigricans castaneus Hewitt 1927
Pelusios subniger castaneus Mertens 1933
Pelusios castaneus castaneus Laurent 1965
1825 Sternothaerus leachianus Bell (Fritz & Havas 2006)
1844 Sernotherus derbianus Gray (Fritz & Havas 2006)
Pelusios derbianus Angel 1937
Pelusios castaneus derbianus Laurent 1965
1906 Sternothaerus nigricans seychellensis Siebenrock in Voeltzkow (Stuckas, Gemel & Fritz 2013)
Pelusios subniger seychellensis Mertens, Müller & Rust 1934
Sternothaerus castaneus seychellensis Rendahl 1939
Pelusios castaneus seychellensis Blanc 1971
Pelusios seychellensis Bour 1983

Other common names:
seychellensis: Seychelles Mud Turtle, Seychelles Black Terrapin
Remarks: Listed for Mauritania (e.g., The Reptile Database, viewed in 2008), but no confirmed records exist from the country (Padial 2006). Although the putative introduction of castaneus to Cape Verde (St. Maria Islet) has been repeated in several works, it was never confirmed (Stuckas, Gemel & Fritz 2013). P. seychellensis was considered an extinct species since c. 1950 (Dijk, Iverson, Shaffer, Bour & Rhodin 2012), but Stuckas, Gemel & Fritz (2013) showed that this form is actually identical with castaneus and suggested that the type material of seychellensis was probably mislabelled.
Extinct in: Seychelles.
Introduced to: Guadeloupe (incl. Iles des Saintes), Martinique.
Distribution: Angola (incl. Cabinda), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau (incl. Bijagos Archipelago), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe (Sao Tome), Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.

Pelusios castanoides

Yellow-bellied Mud Turtle, Yellow-bellied Hinged Terrapin


Gulbuget Klapskildpadde

1931 Pelusios nigricans castanoides Hewitt
Pelusios subniger castanoides Mertens 1934
Pelusios castaneus castanoides Broadley 1981
Pelusios castanoides Bour 1983
1979 Pelusios castaneus kapika Bour (Fritz & Havas 2006)
Pelusios castanoides kapika Bour 1983
1983 Pelusios castanoides intergularis Bour

Other common names:
castanoides: East African Yellow-bellied Mud Turtle
intergularis: Seychelles Yellow-bellied Mud Turtle
Distribution: Kenya, Madagascar (incl. Nosy Be), Malawi, Mozambique (incl. Bazaruto Archipelago), Senegal, Seychelles (incl. Praslin), Somalia, South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), Tanzania (incl. Pemba, Zanzibar).

Pelusios castanoides
© Henrik Bringsøe

Pelusios chapini

Central African Mud Turtle, Central African Hinged Terrapin, Central African Giant Mud Turtle, Congo Mud Turtle, (Chapin's Mud Turtle)


Centralafrikansk Klapskildpadde

1965 Pelusios castaneus chapini Laurent
Pelusios chapini Bour 1983

Remarks: There are no published records from Angola (Marques, Ceríaco, Blackburn & Bauer 2018), but the species may occur in and has been listed for the country by McCord, Joseph-Ouni & Bour (2004). Not recorded from South Sudan (Spawls, Mazuch & Mohammad 2023), although listed for the country by Rhodin, Iverson, Bour, Fritz, Georges, Shaffer & Dijk (2021).
Distribution: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Gabon, South Sudan, Uganda.

Pelusios cupulatta

Ivorian Mud Turtle, Ivory Coast Mud Turtle, Forest Hinged Terrapin, (Cupulatta's Mud Turtle)

Braune Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Ivoriansk Klapskildpadde

2003 Pelusios cupulatta Bour & Maran

Distribution: Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo.

Pelusios gabonensis

Forest Mud Turtle, African Forest Turtle, Gabon Hinged Terrapin, (African Hinged Terrapin)

Zentralafrikanische Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte


1856 Pentonyx gabonensis Dumeril
Pelomedusa gabonensis Strauch 1862
Sternothaerus gabonensis Bocage 1866
Pelusios gabonensis Schmidt 1919
1902 Sternothaerus steindachneri Siebenrock (Fritz & Havas 2006)

Distribution: Angola (Cabinda), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea (Rio Muni), Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

Pelusios marani

Yombi Mud Turtle, (Gabon Mud Turtle, Maran's Mud Turtle)

Marans Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte


2000 Pelusios marani Bour

Distribution: Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon.

Pelusios nanus

African Dwarf Mud Turtle, Dwarf Terrapin


Afrikansk Dværg-klapskildpadde

1956 Pelusios nanus Laurent
Pelusios adansonii nanus Wermuth & Mertens 1977

Remarks: Regarded as a subspecies of adansoni by some authors (e.g., Wermuth & Mertens 1977).
Distribution: Angola, Congo-Kinshasa, Tanzania, Zambia.

Pelusios niger

West African Black Mud Turtle, West African Black Forest Turtle, Black Hinged Terrapin

Schwarze Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Vestafrikansk Sort Klapskildpadde

1835 Sternotherus niger Dumeril & Bibron
Pelusios niger Schmidt 1919
1897 Sternothaerus oxyrhinus Boulenger (Fritz & Havas 2006)
1924 Sternothaerus heinrothi Kanberg (Fritz & Havas 2006)

Remarks: Joger's (1990) record of niger from the Central African Republic refer to gabonensis (Chirio & Ineich 2006).
Distribution: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea (Rio Muni), Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo.

Pelusios rhodesianus

Zambian Mud Turtle, Variable Mud Turtle, Variable Hinged Turtle, Mashona Hinged Terrapin, Zambian Swamp Terrapin, (Hewitt's Hinged Terrapin)


Zambiansk Klapskildpadde

1927 Pelusios nigricans rhodesianus Hewitt
Pelusios subniger rhodesianus Mertens, Müller & Rust 1934
Pelusios rhodesianus Hewitt 1935
Pelusios castaneus rhodesianus Laurent 1965

Remarks: Regarded as a synonym of castaneus by Wermuth & Mertens (1977).
Distribution: Angola (incl. Cabinda), Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Pelusios sinuatus

East African Serrated Mud Turtle, Serrated Hinged Terrapin

Gesägte Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte, Gezähnelte Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Savtakket Klapskildpadde

1838 Sternotherus sinuatus Smith
Pelusios sinuatus Schmidt 1919
1848 Sternotherus dentatus Peters (Fritz & Havas 2006)
1895 Sternothaerus bottegi Boulenger (Fritz & Havas 2006)
Pelusios sinuatus bottegi Vamberger, Hofmeyr, Cook, Netherlands & Fritz 2019
1927 Pelusios sinuatus zuluensis Hewitt (Fritz & Havas 2006)
1933 Pelusios sinuatus leptus Hewitt (Fritz & Havas 2006)

Distribution: Botswana, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West Province), Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Pelusios subniger

East African Black Mud Turtle, Pan Hinged Terrapin, (Lacepede's Hinged Terrapin)

Dunkle Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Østafrikansk Sort Klapskildpadde

1789 Testudo subnigra Bonnaterre
Emys subnigra Schweigger 1812
Pelusios subniger Wagler 1830
Sternotherus subniger Gray 1831
Clemmys subnigra Fitzinger 1835
Sternothaerus subniger Gray 1856
1798 Testudo nigricans Donndorff (Fritz & Havas 2006)
Terrapene nigricans Merrem 1820
Kinosternon nigricans Bell 1825
Sternotherus nigricans Duméril & Bibron 1835
Pelusios nigricans Schmidt 1919
1983 Pelusios subniger parietalis Bour

Other common names:
parietalis: Seychelles Black Mud Turtle
subniger: Common East African Black Mud Turtle
Remarks: Joger's (1990) record of subniger from the Central African Republic refer to chapini (Chirio & Ineich 2006). Jacobsen (2009) provided the first record of subniger from the country. Records from Guadeloupe (introduced) refer to castaneus (Iverson 1992).
Extinct in: Seychelles.
Introduced to: Chagos Archipelago, Glorioso Islands, Mauritius.
Distribution: Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo-Kinshasa, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique (incl. Bazaruto Archipelago), Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles (incl. Praslin), South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga), Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Pelusios subniger
© Rune Midtgaard

Pelusios upembae

Upemba Mud Turtle, Upemba Basin Terrapin



1981 Pelusios bechuanicus upembae Broadley
Pelusios upembae Bour 1983

Distribution: Congo-Kinshasa.

Pelusios williamsi

Lake Victoria Mud Turtle, (Williams' Mud Turtle)

Ostafrikanische Klappbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte

Lake Victoria-klapskildpadde

1965 Pelusios williamsi williamsi Laurent
1965 Pelusios williamsi lutescens Laurent
1984 Pelusios williamsi laurenti Bour

Other common names:
laurenti: Ukerewe Island Mud Turtle
lutescens: Semliki River Mud Turtle, Albert Nile Mud Turtle
williamsi: Common Lake Victoria Mud Turtle
Distribution: Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda.