Diet & Feeding
P.s. subrufa nest once per year. A nest is dug
to a depth of approximately 15 cm and the
eggs deposited. Eggs are white/grayish and
covered with a clear slime. They measure
28-31 mm x 15-18 mm and approximately 4-6
grams. Fertile eggs develop a white spot or
area on top and hatching occurs in 65-68 days.
I have had eggs hatch in as little as 55 days
when incubated at 29C.
Eggs are incubated at 95% humidity at 26 C - 28C
in a 1:2 peat sand mixture. Better hatching success
rates have been at the higher temperatures. The
mixture is moistened to where it will form a ball when
squeezed without excess water dripping out.
Incubator and shoe box lids are opened every other
day to take temperature & humidity readings. A digital
temp/humidity gauge is used as they prove to be more
reliable and faster. An aquarium thermometer is left
buried to monitor substrate temperatures.
Yearling P.s.subrufa, approx. 40 g.
Hatchling P.s.subrufa, approx. 3.5 g.
Key breeding points

Pelomedusa can be maintained in
groups of 1.2 (male: female). Care
should be taken not to permanently
house significantly larger males with
females to avoid accidental
drowning or injury.
Males will fight over a territory and
Females begin nesting at a SCL of 12
cm (approx. 5 inches). Average
clutch size of 7-17 eggs.
Males and females are easily distinguished from one another based
on plastron shape and tail.
Male P. subrufa have concave plastrons and long broad based tails
that extend well beyond the anal notch and carapace. Additionally
the cloaca for males is much further away from the posterior edge
of the plastron and/or carapacial rim than in females.
Female P. subrufa have flat plastrons and fairly short tails that do
not extend much beyond the anal notch and carapace. The image
at the right illustrates the difference between males and females
well; even young adults are easily sexed. It is my impression that
males attain a larger size than females and do so a much faster
rate than the females. The head of an adult male is broader & more
massive than a female's.
Copulation occurs in the water with the male grasping the females
carapace with his feet and shaking his head laterally.
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Water Depth
A water depth of 2.0 - 2.5 cm (1 inch) is recommended for newly emerged hatchlings. The addition of sphagnum moss will
provide cover and resting areas. An easily accessible basking site should be provided.
Water depth can be increased as the hatchling growth such that it can easily extend its head above the surface while
standing on the bottom of the tank. By the age of one year water depth can be kept at 7 - 10 cm (3 - 4 inches) if shallow
water rest areas are provided.
Newly emerged hatchlings readily take frozen brine shrimp and blood worms usually within a few days of being moved to an
aquatic setup. Single sticks of Reptomin broken into 1 mm pieces (per hatchling) can be offered once hatchlings are feeding
Small daily feedings are recommended with alternating offerings of Reptomin and frozen foods. Gradually increase Reptomin
offerings as hatchlings grow; by the time they reach one year in age an individual turtle should be consuming around 10 sticks
in a feeding on alternate days to avoid becoming overweight. Growth should be slow and steady for proper development.
Hatchlings are best maintained in plastic storage/shoe containers within a ten gallon aquarium. The rationale for this is that the water
surrounding the plastic container can be maintained at depth to accommodate a submersible heater and therefore maintain
appropriate water temperatures without subjecting hatchlings to direct contact with the heater. Daily water changes are necessary
as the water depth within the plastic container is to shallow for the filters to run properly.
Hatchlings may not be observed basking until nearly a year old however a UVB light and basking areas should be provided at one end
of the enclosure as well as sufficient hiding areas and visual barriers; sphagnum moss works very well and is easily cleaned and/or
P.s. subrufa are quite small upon hatching,
weighing 3.5-4.0 grams and a uniform black
color with green eyes and a cream chin. As
hatchlings age most develop white spots
along the ventral rim of the anterior end of
the carapace. By the age of six to nine
months hatchlings' coloration begins to
resemble that of the adults. Around two
years a second change in coloration occurs
away from the grays to more browns.
Each failed at different points during development.
Hatchling one month.
Hatchling two months.
P.s. subrufa at one year.
P.s. subrufa at four months.
Top two eggs are infertile (top left is
already collapsing) and the bottom
two and the photo (right) are fertile.
P.s. subrufa at one day.
P.s. subrufa at two years.