African Sideneck Turtle Care

.A unique family of aquatic reptiles found across Africa, the African Sideneck Turtles are also known by the name African Helmeted Turtles.

In this article, we will embark on African Sideneck Turtle Care, unraveling their origins, appearance, behavior, size, lifespan, temperament, housing prerequisites, care, prevalent health issues, breeding tendencies, and prudent advice for selecting and procuring these extraordinary turtles.

African Sideneck Turtles Overview

African Sideneck Turtles, scientifically referred to as Pelusios castaneus, stand as captivating reptiles originating from the diverse landscapes of the African continent. These intriguing creatures have firmly secured their place within the hearts of reptile enthusiasts, courtesy of their unique attributes and captivating behavior.


The African Sideneck Turtle traces its roots to various regions across Africa, encompassing West and Central Africa in particular. These turtles predominantly inhabit slow-moving freshwater domains such as rivers, lakes, and tranquil ponds.

This semi-aquatic species has adeptly adapted to a lifestyle that involves extended periods submerged in water while also indulging in sun-soaked respites on land.

Appearance and Behavior:

Distinguishing themselves with their notably elongated necks, which they adroitly retract sideways beneath their shells when sensing danger, these turtles aptly earn their moniker “Sideneck.”

Adorned with shells that typically exhibit dark brown or black hues, their appearance is marked by a smooth, somewhat flattened visage. The patterns and markings adorning their shells are as diverse as fingerprints, rendering each turtle a unique specimen.

In the realm of behavior, African Sideneck Turtles are renowned for their reserved and introverted disposition. Their response to approaching entities is often characterized by a hint of trepidation, manifesting as a sideways withdrawal of their heads into their protective shells. Yet, with judicious care and patience, these turtles can acclimate themselves to human companionship, gradually unveiling their innate curiosity.

Size and Lifespan:

Ranging in size from small to medium, African Sideneck Turtles typically achieve lengths of 6 to 8 inches, although certain individuals may attain slightly greater dimensions. When bestowed with proper care, they can grace their caretakers with their presence for numerous decades, with some individuals enduring for 25 to 30 years or more in captivity.


The temperament of African Sideneck Turtles exhibits variation from one specimen to the next. Though generally not inclined towards aggression, they can experience stress if handled excessively or roughly. Ideally, these creatures are best appreciated from a respectful distance, and with the passage of time, they may grow accustomed to their human companions, displaying signs of familiarity.

Housing African Sideneck Turtles:

African Sideneck Turtle Care

Enclosure Size:

  • Generous Space Allocation: Provide ample space for the turtle’s well-being.
  • Tank Size: Aim for a minimum tank size of 40 to 55 gallons for a solitary adult turtle.
  • Consider Larger Enclosures: Larger tanks are preferable to enhance the turtle’s quality of life.
  • Multiple Turtles: For those planning to house multiple turtles, even larger enclosures are imperative.


The welfare of African Sideneck Turtles relies on the provision of UVB lighting to facilitate calcium metabolism and ensure the health of their shells. Adequate basking zones, equipped with UVB lamps, must form an integral part of their habitat.

Temperature and Humidity:

  • Water Temperature: Aim for the range of low 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (21-29°C).
  • Air Temperature: Keep ambient air temperatures at around mid-70s Fahrenheit (approximately 24°C).

Achieve and sustain these conditions with:

  • Submersible Water Heater: Use a submersible water heater to regulate water temperature.
  • Heat Lamp: Employ a heat lamp to maintain suitable air temperatures.
  • Proper Humidity: Ensure proper humidity levels by periodically misting the enclosure.

Substrate and Decoration:

Simulating their natural environment requires the incorporation of a suitable substrate such as fine gravel or sand. Supplementing their habitat with rocks, logs, and aquatic plants serves dual purposes: providing hiding spots and stimulating their innate behaviors.


Regular maintenance entails the periodic replacement of water to uphold water quality standards. Swift removal of uneaten food and routine cleaning of the substrate is imperative to avert waste accumulation.

African Sideneck Turtle Care:

Food and Water:

Being omnivores, these turtles boast a diverse palate. An offering that encompasses commercial turtle pellets, aquatic plants, insects, and the occasional fruits or vegetables is ideal. Ensuring a constant supply of fresh, dechlorinated water is fundamental for both drinking and swimming.


Prudent handling practices call for the minimization of such interactions to limit stress. In situations necessitating handling, care should be exercised to handle them gently while providing proper support to prevent injury.

Common Health Issues:

Vulnerability to health issues, including respiratory infections, shell rot, and parasites, underscores.  Tthe importance of regular veterinary check-ups and the maintenance of optimal water and habitat conditions.


Venturing into the realm of breeding African Sideneck Turtles in captivity is a rewarding pursuit. Breeding events typically unfold in water, culminating in females laying eggs on land. Establishing appropriate nesting zones and diligent monitoring are pivotal to successful breeding endeavors. Aspiring breeders would be wise to seek guidance from experienced counterparts.

Choosing and Buying an African Sideneck Turtle:

  • Choose Adoption Sources: Opt for adoption from reputable breeders or rescue organizations.
  • Exercise Vigilance: Be attentive to the turtle’s vitality, alertness, and absence of visible signs of illness.

Additionally, it’s essential to have a:

  • Legal Awareness: Understand local and international regulations concerning turtle ownership and trade.
  • Species Consideration: Be aware that specific turtle species may be protected or restricted in certain jurisdictions.


In summation, African Sideneck Turtles stand as beguiling and distinctive reptiles, capable of enthralling even the most seasoned turtle enthusiasts.

A Summary of African Sideneck Turtle Care

Commitment to their well-being, attentiveness to their habitat requirements, and profound respect. Their intrinsic behaviors are the cornerstones to ensure their enduring health and contentment.

By crafting a suitable environment and cherishing their natural inclinations, one can revel in the companionship of these exceptional turtles for countless years to come. In this article, we have given information about “African Sideneck Turtle Care.” I hope you like it.


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