In preparation for my upcoming African excursion I thought it only appropriate to share this awesome post by @xander_swart
Here you can see the largest Pelusios species, the serrated hinged terrapin (Pelusios sinuatus) riding on the back of a hippopotamus in Krueger National Park. Interestingly, this behavior is quite well documented concerning African helmeted terrapins (Pelomedusa subrufa sp.) and the hippo and the turtles actually have what is known as a symbiotic relationship. The terrapins will feed on ticks and ectoparasites on the hippo while riding on its back and cleanse it, while the turtles benefit from getting a tasty snack! Truly a fascinating behavior that wasn’t really discovered until quite recently based on photos and observations. Ectoparasites actually play a huge role in identifying helmeted terrapin species (they were recently split into eight different species), and certain species of ticks only associate with certain species of terrapin, thereby allowing a biologist identify the terrapin species based on the tick! Who knew ticks could be so helpful for turtles in Africa? Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some turtle-hippo action next week in Africa!
Thanks for sharing @xander_swart