Helmated turtle

Taken at the Cincinnati Zoo

The African helmeted turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa) is also known as the marsh terrapin. They perform interesting courtship rituals. During courtship, the male will follow the female and extend his head touching her hindquarters and vent. If she is non-responsive he will nip and snap at her legs and tail. After mounting her carapace, he extends his head over hers swaying it in front of her face while expelling water from his nose.


  • Where to see them: Many parts of Africa
  • Length: 7 inches
  • Habitat: Rivers, lakes, and marshes
  • Lifespan: 40 years
  • Diet: Insects, small crustaceans, fish, earthworms, and snails
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