These Turtles have been in New Zealand for quite a few years and luckily Hothouse Turtles has managed to breed significant numbers recently to introduce them back to the average hobbyist
Description: It is easily recognizable by its dark pink to red plastron and lower jaw with males showing these bright colours during the mating season. A yellowish band runs from the nose to the end of the head while the rest of the head and body is a dark grey. They have a fairly flat shell that is a solid brown colour with the edges a slight red colour especially in youngsters and the plastron a light cream colour. The amount of red may vary depending on sex, age and the season. Males will get up to17cm in shell length. Females up to 26cm. Males have significantly longer and thicker tails, both the male and female have two barbels under their chin.
Origin and Habitat: This species has a large distribution and occur throughout Papua New Guinea - Papua and Cape York Australia. They occur in a variety of habitats including rivers and estuaries to inland waterholes and creeks.
Housing: This turtle will spend a lot of time in the water so need plenty of swimming space so an enclosure for one to three animals should be at least 150x60x60 with at least 30cm of water as a minimum, deeper is better tough. Provide a basking place must be provided so they can dry out completely and if adults when needed dig in the sand to lay eggs. Temperature for the basking spot should be between 35 to 40C directly below it and the water should be maintained at 28-29C for juveniles and 25=26C for adults with an air temperature in the enclosure of about 25C.
There needs to be UVB solar lighting provided for the production of vitamin D3 essential for the continued health of the animals, this can also be directed onto the basking spot.
A sand substrate is best to allow foraging and to stop uneaten food from getting caught under rocks and foul the water, bits of rock and driftwood can be placed into the sand to give a varied terrain and half terracotta pots can serve as visual barriers and under water shelters. A bare bottom will suffice if you want to create an easier cleaning surface for hygienic reasons but these turtles do like scratching around on the substrate.
Water: Good quality of the water is essential as they don’t tolerate ammonia so a good canister filter and movement in the water is a must. Replace 25% to 50% of the water in order to prevent build-up of waste materials. Tropical root wood, Almond leaves and oak leaf slightly lower pH value and Almond has an anti-bacterial and mould-reducing effect. Males can be quite pushy once they are sexually mature. Therefore it is best to keep the sexes separate outside the breeding season. Otherwise the females get no rest.
Diet: These turtles are mainly carnivorous but will also feed on some greens and fruits when it is offered, a varied diet of Bloodworms, tubifex, worms, shrimp, (pieces of) freshwater fish, mussels, various insects, snails with shell, and some waterplants, tomatoes, carrot and fruits like mango and apple will sometimes also be eaten. Colour enhancing fish foods such as dried shrimp can help to increase the red colour on them.