The largest specie of the Pelusios genus. The carapace is oval and elongated, with a pronounced dome, and is evenly rounded at the edges which allows the turtle to appear as a smooth rock. The carapace is very dark, often almost black, and lightens up to yellow or orange only at the sides. The plastron is well developed and can close the shell completely, with a rounded front lobe that comes together to form the hinge that is characteristic of the genus.
The turtle is observed most often in clear, deep, calm waters, in rivers, and in vegetation-choked swamps. It is a semi-aquatic animal that remains in the water most of the year. It is observed outside of the water habitat only when seeking temporary aquatic refuge during the dry season. The breeding season occurs during the southern summer and nests are quite large, between 20 and 50 eggs. The turtle's is most frequent prey to the shoe-billed stork and it is characteristically a carnivore, feeding on fish and invertebrates.
^Broadley, Donald G. (1973). "Provisional List of Vernacular Names for Rhodesian Reptiles and Amphibians". The Journal of the Herpetological Association of Africa10 (1). doi:10.1080/04416651.1973.9650652.
^ abcdefgBonin, Franck; Devaux, Bernard; Dupre, Alain (2006). Turtles of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN0-8018-8496-9.