Added 3 April 2023.


Eyed Turtles


A pair of almost wholly aquatic species found from the Indian subcontinent to NW Malaysia, rarely seen in the pet trade.

Boulenger gives the characteristics of the genus as follows: neural plates hexagonal, short-sided in front. Plastron extensively united to the carapace by suture, with short axillary and inguinal buttresses, just reaching the first and fifth costal plates; entoplastron anterior to the humero-pectoral suture. Skull with a bony temporal arch; alveolar surfaces very broad, of upper jaw with a strong tuberculate median ridge; edge of jaws strongly toothed ; choanal behind the level of the eyes. Upper surface of snout and crown covered with a single shield, behind which the skin is corrugated. Digits extensively webbed. Tail short, not longer in the young than in the adult.

Müller (1995) wrote that the species are rarely ever kept in captivity as both are CITES species (I & II respectively), and that there had been no successful captive breeding. Turtle Island in Austria has apparently had some success in breeding M. petersi (2020).

Species Name

Common Name





M. ocellata

Burmese Eyed Turtle [D: Hinterindische Pfauenaugen-Sumpfschildkröte]

S Myanmar, S China, NW Malaysia

15 cm (m), 22 cm (f)

In the nineteenth century, Theobald claimed that the species was “extremely abundant” in Pegu and Tenasserim in Burma, and described it as “essentially aquatic” and “excellent eating”. It is now considered Vulnerable, and Das notes that its diet and reproductive habits are unstudied: however, Müller suggests that they are herbivorous. Carapace: moderately depressed, with a strong-, interrupted, tubercular keel in the young, which becomes fainter in the adult; margin, not serrated; nuchal narrow; first vertebral not or but little broader anteriorly than posteriorly, lateral borders usually sinuous; second, third, and fourth vertebrals broader than long or as long as broad, narrower than the costals. Plastron: large, angulated laterally, truncate anteriorly, notched posteriorly; the width of the bridge exceeds the length of the hind lobe; the longest median suture is that between the abdominals; suture between the gulars as long as or shorter than that between the humerals; axillary and inguinal large. Head: moderate; snout short, obtuse; upper jaw notched mesially, denticulated; lower jaw strongly serrated, flat inferiorly, its width at the symphysis equalling the diameter of the orbit. Scales on limbs small; digits broadly webbed. Tail: very short. Coloration: carapace brown, each shield of the disk with a large central blackish ocellus encircled with yellowish ; lower surface uniform yellow. Head olive, with yellow markings; a yellow streak running above the canthus rostralis, supraciliary edge, and temple, and another from behind the eye to above the ear. [SOURCE: Boulenger, Theobald]

M. petersi

Indian Eyed Turtle [D: Vorderindische Pfauenaugen-Sumpfschildkröte]

NE India, Nepal, Bangladesh

12.5 cm (m), 20 cm (f)

Very closely allied to the above. Snout much more pointed and relatively longer. Suture between the pectorals not shorter than that between the abdominals. Coloration: carapace black, each vertebral with a narrow yellowish mesial line; the four last vertebrals with a yellowish linear horseshoe mark with the ends directed forwards; each costal with an ocellus placed rather low and formed by a narrow yellowish line, above which are some irregular looped lines of similar colour; the nuchal and each marginal with a vertical narrow yelIowish mesial streak; plastron yellow. Three yellow streaks on each side of the head, the lower extending from below the nostril to the angle of the mouth. [SOURCE: Boulenger]



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