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African Side-Necked Turtles: Pelomedusidae

Physical Characteristics

African side-necked turtles are small- to medium-sized turtles that fold their necks sideways under their shells, rather than pulling them straight back into the shell, along with their heads. They have five claws on each hind foot. The upper shell, or carapace (KARE-a-pays), of adults usually is less than 1 foot (30.5 centimeters) long, but the length of shells can range from about 4 to 21.6 inches (10–55 centimeters). The turtle has a large lower shell, or plastron (PLAS-trun), that covers much of the chest and belly. Sometimes the plastron has a hinge that allows the animal to pull its lower shell quite tight against the upper shell and offers protection from predators (PREH-duhters), or animals that seek these turtles out as a source of food. In addition, the turtles have glands, or special organs, along the sides of their bodies that give off a musky, or earthy, smell to ward off attackers.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesAfrican Side-Necked Turtles: Pelomedusidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Helmeted Turtle (pelomedusa Subrufa): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, AFRICAN SIDE-NECKED TURTLES AND PEOPLE