Friday, October 15, 2010

Yangzte Soft-Shell Turtle

The Yangtze Soft-Shell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), also known as the Shanghai Soft-Shell or Swinhoe's Soft-Shell, is the rarest, most endangered turtle in the entire world. There are only four known specimens in existence, and all are getting quite old. They are also one of the largest of the Soft-Shell Turtles, members of the family Trionychidae. Soft-Shell Turtles are so named because their shells have a more pliable, almost leathery feeling carapace that is essentially really thick skin.
(Image Source)

Yangtze Soft-Shell Turtles are natively found in South East Asia, though their is only one believed specimen in the wild today. They measure up to a meter in length and have tails and pig-like snouts. Females are slightly larger than males. Yangtze Soft-Shelled Turtles are omnivores, and feed off of plants, fish, snails, crustaceans, and small amphibians.

As already mentioned, the Yangtze Soft-Shell Turtle is the most endangered Turtle in the world. It might also possibly be the most endangered animal, period. Their species was potentially irreparably damaged due to loss of habitat and hunting for use in traditional medicines and as food. Two specimens are in captivity in China, and there are two reported individuals in Vietnam. For a few years now, scientists have been working to save the species by breeding the Chinese pair. Unfortunately, the female previously lived in an enclosure that was dirty and saw a lot of vandalism, and her poor diet of garbage caused her first clutch of eggs to be almost completely infertile. The second breeding, which took place earlier this year, yielded a few fertile eggs, but they never made it to term. Cleaner, protected conditions and a better diet are making conservationists hopeful about breedings in the years to come.

The main problem however, is that the females is over eighty years old, and the male is over one hundred. While many turtle species have exceptionally long life expectancies (especially compared to humans) time is ticking to save this rare species.Another breeding is planned for 2011.


  1. The Yangzte is looking for its Yin-zte. Yinzte Yangzte is actually an ancient turtle Taoist philosophy.


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