species: Rafetus swinhoei

Common Name: Swinhoe’s Soft-shell

Described by: Gray (1873)

Conservation Status: Critically endangered: IUCN Red List 2006

Habitat of Rafetus Swinhoei.

Habitat: Large river systems and associated wetlands and lakes

Range: Southern China and northern Vietnam

Key Threats: Rafetus swinhoei has traditionally been hunted for subsistent and local consumption. The carapace and bones are often preserved for medicinal use. Skulls are often maintained as trophies (Hendrie and Pritchard, PC 2000).
Loss of traditional nesting areas due to mining of sand or alterations in river flow resulting from dams, dredging, and establishment of flood barriers may also be a factor impacting nesting. (Hendrie, PC, 2003).

More about Rafetus swinhoei:

There are six living specimens of the species known to exist (2004). Five are in China including one in the Beijing Zoo, one in the Shanghai Zoo, one in the Suzhou Zoo, and two in the Western Gardens of a temple in Suzhou. The sixth living Rafetus is in Hoan Kiem Lake in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Clutch Size: According to fishermen surveyed, approximately 60 eggs are laid in each clutch. One individual that was killed was reported to have 40 eggs inside (McCormack and Hendrie, 2004). Heude reported that eggs numbered 100-200 (Pritchard, PC, 10-04).
Nesting period: According to fishermen surveyed, Rafetus nests at night or during the early morning hours (McCormack and Hendrie, 2004, Pritchard, PC, 10-04).
Diet: According to fishermen surveyed, the stomach contents of Rafetus killed included fish, crabs, snails, water hyacinth, frogs, and green rice leaves (McCormack and Hendrie, 2004)


Distinguishing Features: Deep head with pig-like snout. Eyes somewhat dorsally placed (Pritchard, PC, 10-04).

Lengths of up to about 109 cm and weight of approximately 120-140kg (Pritchard, PC, 10-04). 70cm in width (Pritchard in Farkas and Webb, 2003).

Head and bony carapace measurements were taken yielding the following results for one specimen (McCormack and Hendrie, 2004):
Head length: 22.5 cm
Head width: 11.8 cm
Carapace length: 58.6 cm
Carapace width: 50.7 cm

Male/Female: According to fishermen surveyed, males have larger tails (McCormack and Hendrie, 2004). Pritchard noted that males are generally smaller and have longer tails that are thicker at the base and extend beyond the margin of the carapace (Pritchard, PC, 10-04).

This profile was last updated in August 2006
Contact us: ATCNetwork@fpt.vn