The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Pelusios castaneus
Pelusios castaneus
(West African Mud Turtle)

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Pelusios castaneus (Schweigger, 1812)

Common name: West African Mud Turtle

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Carapace is chestnut brown, round, and fairly steep, seldom with any median keel. Large plastron is typically dark yellow but is often outlined in black. The head is brown or reddish, with a light reticulated pattern, with two barbels on the chin (Bonin et al., 2006).

Size: 285 mm maximum carapace length

Native Range: Coastal West Africa from Senegal tp the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Introduced to Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean (Bonin et al., 2006)

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Pelusios castaneus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ202420241Middle Gila
FL202020201Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 4/14/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Found in wet and shallow water, often associated with vegetation. Active both day and nightsearching for food including fish, amphibians, snails, insects, seeds, fruits, algae, and aquatic plants (Bonin et al. 2006). May aestivate in the mud during the dry season (Bonin et al. 2006).

Means of Introduction: Probably released intentionally, likely a former pet.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. Research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Bartlett and Bartlett (1999) reported that P. subniger (East African Black Mud Turtle) was established in Miami-Dade County, Florida, possibly from a release in 1980 (Krysko et al. 2019). However, there is debate as to whether these were in fact P. subniger, or whether they were actually P. castaneus or P. castenoides (Stemle, 2022). No Pelusios spp. turtles have been observed in the area since then (Krysko et al., 2019, Stemle, 2022).

References: (click for full references)

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston. 280 pp.

Bonin, F., B. Devaux, and A. Dupre. 2006. Turtles of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2019. Amphibians and reptiles of Florida. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Stemle, L.R. 2022. First georeferenced report of a non-native West African Mud Turtle, Pelusios castaneus (Schweigger 1812), in Florida. Reptiles and Amphibians 29(1):150-151.


Author: Freedman, J.A.

Revision Date: 8/26/2022

Citation Information:
Freedman, J.A., 2024, Pelusios castaneus (Schweigger, 1812): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=3819, Revision Date: 8/26/2022, Access Date: 4/15/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/15/2024].

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