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#133 Black Softshell Turtle

Extinct in the Wild

These are listed as extinct in the wild by the IUCN. That was published back in 2002 though, and needs updating. There is a chance that after another survey they could be listed as just critically endangered. There have been 300 or so released into the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary now. Because they aren't tracked, it is unknown how many of those are still surviving, but hopefully this will become a success story. Because they are listed as extinct in the wild as of today, that is what I will categorize them as. They are a large turtle, up to 35 inches wide. The males are larger than the females, but none have been weighed so all we know is that the the females average 120 pounds. They hibernate underwater which is just amazing to me. In fact they can apparently stay underwater pretty much indefinitely, burying themselves under mud. They don't really need food while hibernating, and though they do need oxygen, they absorb up to 70% of their oxygen from their surroundings but use pharyngeal breathing to pump water in and out of the throat which helps provide the last 30%.

I keep saying "Thquirrel!" when I see this guy. If you don't know who Tuna the dog is, look up Tuna and thquirrel, and then tell me this turtle doesn't remind you of him. Our terrier may be blind, but he still tries really hard to chase them when they dare to come to our yard. We still have to say "fuzzy rodent" if we see one, because just the word will set him off. He gets so excited he forgets he can't see and will run right into something full speed. His desire to catch squirrels was very helpful when my kids had a loose tooth many years ago. I would tie a string around their tooth, tie the string to the dog's collar, say "squirrel!" and he would bolt to go find it, which meant the tooth popped right out. Our other dog will chase squirrels half-heartedly. She is more interested in just not letting the terrier be the only one having all the fun. Back when he could see he would sit by the front door and stare out the window. She would sit on our couch and start complaining quite loudly that he was getting to see something exciting and she wasn't, yet she wouldn't bother going to look too because she was comfortable.

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