Chinese softshell turtle
There is a subspecies japonicus which is sometimes erroneously listed as Pelodiscus japonica.
The Chinese softshell turtle can reach a carapace length of 1 foot (30.3 cm). It has webbed feet for swimming. They are called "softshell" because their carapace lacks horny scutes (scales). The carapace is leathery and pliable, particularly at the sides. The central part of the carapace has a layer of solid bone beneath it, as in other turtles, but this is absent at the outer edges. The light and flexible shell of these turtles allows them to move more easily in open water, or in muddy lake bottoms.
It forages at night, taking crustaceans, molluscs, insects, fish, and amphibians.
Behavior and adaptations
These turtles carry a gene which produces a protein that allows them to expel urea from their mouths. This adaptation helps them survive in brackish water by making it possible for them to urinate without drinking too much salty water. They simply rinse their mouths in the water in order to urinate.
Chinese softshell turtles live in brackish water. With their long snout and tubelike nostrils, these turtles can "snorkel" in shallow water. When resting, they lie at the bottom, buried in sand or mud, lifting their head to breathe or snatch at prey.
The Chinese softshell turtle is found in China (including Manchuria and Taiwan), North Vietnam and Japan.
It is difficult to determine its native range due to the long tradition of use as a food and "tonic" and subsequent spread by migrating people. The Chinese soft-shelled turtle has been introduced to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Timor, Batan Islands, Guam, some of the Hawaiian Islands, California, and Virginia.
17 to 28 eggs are laid per clutch, two to four times a year.
The Chinese Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) is the turtle species raised on China's turtle farms. According to the data obtained from 684 Chinese turtle farms, they sold over 91 million turtles of this species every year; considering that these farms represented less than half of the 1,499 registered turtle farms in China, the nationwide total could be over twice as high.
These turtles can be injured if they are dropped or hit, and are susceptible to shell fungus. Within Europe, the turtle is a popular pet, particularly in countries such as Italy and the Czech Republic.
Turtles as human food
Turtle soup is made from this species.
- Rhodin 2010, p. 000.128
- Asian Turtle Trade Working Group (2000). "Pelodiscus sinensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/39620. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 319–320. ISSN 18640-5755. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. http://www.webcitation.org/5v20ztMND. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- UniProt Taxonomy - Trionyx sinensis
- Obst, Fritz Jurgen (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G.. ed. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 117–118. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
- Kaufman, Rachel (12). "Turtles Urinate Via Their Mouths—A First". National Geographic. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/10/121012-turtles-urine-pee-mouth-science-animals-weird/. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- Give us a kiss! The turtle that urinates through its mouth... and is a delicacy in Chinese restaurants | Mail Online
- Distribution map from WWF: shows the species' distribution within NE China and Russian Far East
- Louis A. Somma. 2009. Pelodiscus sinensis. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.  Revision Date: 6/29/2004 Accessed: 15/05/2009
- C.H. Ernst, R.G.M. Altenburg & R.W. Barbour - Turtles of the World - Pelodiscus sinensis 
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- Mitchell, J.C., B.W. Steury, K.A. Buhlmann, and P.P. van Dijk (2007). "Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) in the Potomac River and notes on eastern spiny softshells (Apalone spinifera) in Northern Virginia". Banisteria 30: 41-43.
- Shi, Haitao; Parham, James F; Fan, Zhiyong; Hong, Meiling; Yin, Feng (2008-01-01), "Evidence for the massive scale of turtle farming in China", Oryx (Cambridge University Press) 42: 147–150, doi:10.1017/S0030605308000562, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=1&fid=1738732&jid=ORX&volumeId=42&issueId=01&aid=1738724, retrieved 2009-12-26