The African helmeted turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa), also known commonly as the marsh terrapin, the crocodile turtle, or in the pet trade as the African side-necked turtle, is a species of omnivorous side-necked terrapin in the family Pelomedusidae. The species naturally occurs in fresh and stagnant water bodies throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa, and in southern Yemen.
P. subrufa is a semiaquatic animal, living in rivers, lakes, and marshes, and it also occupies rain pools and places that are fertilized.
Its preference seems to be for standing water, such as swamps, pans, dams, and lakes. However it is found to a lesser extent along rivers. It is generally absent from regions that are mountainous, forested, or desert.
The African helmeted turtle is an omnivorous eater and will eat almost anything. It may feed on carrion. The fine claws on its feet help it tear its prey apart.
Groups of P. subrufa have been observed capturing and drowning larger prey such as doves that come to drink; the commotion caused by these group attacks is often mistaken for crocodiles. All food is taken underwater to be eaten.
Several large mammals such as warthogs, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceroses have recently been documented utilizing the turtles to remove parasites at popular wallowing holes.
During wet weather P. subrufa will often leave water bodies and embark on long overland journeys. During exceptionally dry weather when water bodies dry up, it will typically dig into the ground and bury itself until rains return; it has been known to spend months or even years in such a state. It will also hibernate during very cold weather, and aestivate during unusually hot, dry weather.
Source : Wikipedia