Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle Facts
- The magnificent Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle quite easily ranks as one of the largest extant species of turtle known to man. This truly unique animal bears this common name, among others, in honor of Theodore Edward Cantor.
- Somewhat uniquely, a great deal of confusion currently exists concerning the exact maximum size of this turtle. That’s understandable though, given that this species spends approximately 95% of its life buried in the sand or mud.
- Amazingly, once there the implacable reptile also generally remains virtually motionless. During this time, though, most commonly only its mouth and eyes remain exposed. Typically, however, this distinctive wonder of nature only emerges twice per day.
- Regrettably, the population of the Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle appears to be in decline. For that reason, the IUCN lists the species as Endangered, on its Red List. The primary threats to its existence also seem to be habitat loss and hunting.
Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle Physical Description
The Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle forms a species of freshwater turtle. Its maximum confirmed carapace length measured 39 in (100 cm). Claims of specimens measuring as much as 6 ft (1.9 m) in total length also exist, but these remain unsubstantiated.
The carapace also has a relatively smooth texture, with this typically presenting an olive green color. Yet immature individuals often display dark mottling and yellow coloring. This appears primarily present around the edges of the carapace.
The amazing turtle also has a broad skull, with relatively small eyes. These appear located close to the tip of the snout. When it reproduces, the female typically lays between 20-28 eggs at a time, between the months of February and March.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Trionychidae
- Genus: Pelochelys
- Species: P. cantorii
Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The amazing Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle primarily occurs in the countries of India, Burma, and Thailand. Individuals can also be found in Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and Java. On occasion, individuals are spotted in neighboring areas as well.
It remains undetermined if these are indigenous to these areas, however, leading to even more confusion. The remarkable reptile lives almost exclusively in freshwater streams and rivers. These bodies of water must also be relatively slow moving.
Although populations of this species most often live inland, there presently remains some evidence that its range also includes coastal regions as well. Ongoing investigations, however, continue to attempt clarify this situation, to better understand the creature.
The primarily carnivorous Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle also seems to be a highly effective ambush predator. It feeds primarily on mollusks, fish, and small crustaceans. Specimens occasionally will also consume small quantities of various aquatic plants.