Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spix's Green Frog, Lithobates palmipes (Family Ranidae)

Spix's Green Frog is poorly known from Trinidad. Males reach 126 mm, females 101 mm.

Spix's Green Frog is widely distributed in South America east of the Andes. It has been reported from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, the Guianas and Brazil. The species is also said to occurs in the northern Atlantic forest of Brazil. In Trinidad it has been reported from the Central Range and southeast corner of the island of Trinidad. It is unknown from Tobago. In elevation it ranges from near sea level to 1000 m asl. It is a nocturnal tropical rainforest species, living terrestrially in and around permanent water, including slow-flowing watercourses, rivers, and lakes and at the edges of ponds. It also occurs in flooded forest. Their eggs are deposited in the water at the beginning of the dry season, and the tadpoles develop in water. This is most likely a complex of species that needs to be studied in detail.




Bloody Bay Litter Frog, Pristimantis turpinorum (Family Craugastoridae)

Turpin's Litter Frog, Pristimantis turpinorum, is endemic to the forests Tobago's Main Ridge. Adults are 15 to 19 mm in body length and the eye's diameter is about 1.25 times the eye-nostril distance. The iris of the eye does not contain any blue pigment. Males call from palm trees in the late afternoon and usually stop calling when it is dark. It is a poorly studied species and little is known about its natural history. Photograph at left Renoir J. Auguste.

Urich's Litter Frog, Pristimantis urichi (Family Craugastoridae)

This species is known only from Trinidad and Tobago, where it is widespread in forested areas, occurring from near sea level to more than 900 m asl. Pristimantis urichi is a small, 21-24 mm, frog that is highly polymorphic in coloration and pattern. Individuals may be uniform in color or have a relatively complex pattern of blotches. It is a forest dweller and males call from leaves off the ground, often the leaves they call from are covered by other leaves, making them difficult to locate. The upper edge of the iris is a turquois blue, a characteristic that will distinguish them from other Trinidad and Tobago frogs. Females deposit their eggs in terrestrial nests that may be on the ground or under moss or treebak on the surface of the tree. They may be guarded by the male or left to develop on their own. The eggs undergo direct development and hatch into froglets.

Typhlonectes sp. (Family Typhlonectidae)

Its presence on Trinidad is based upon one, now lost specimen (Dresden 639).  This animal is probably not part of the fauna. Photo by Haplochromis.

 

Mata Mata, Chelus fimbriatus (Family Chelidae)

There are no known populations of this turtle in Trinidad, but it is an occasional waif from the flooding Orinoco.

The mata mata has been known to science sine 1741 but not described until 1783. It's large, triangular, compressed head with numerous tubercles and flaps of skin, and its tubular snout make it the most distinctive turtle on the planet. The carapace is brown to black and can reach 45 cm. Adult weight is 15 kg. The coloration, shape and texture provide the mata mata with excellent camouflage. Mata mata's lie motionless in the water until a fish comes close. It then opens its mouth rapidly and the fish is sucked in because of the vacuum created when it opens it mouth. The flaps of skin on the head likely act as motion detectors allowing the turtle to determine the position of the fish before "striking."

Gibba Turtle, Mesoclemmys gibba (Family Chelidae)


This is a highly aquatic freshwater turtle. Adult carapace length 235 mm, maximum size approaches 300 mm; hatchlings 41−48 mm; males do not exceed 170 mm carapace length.

The head relatively wide and flattened; tympanum large; two barbles on chin; carapace depressed in adults, juveniles have a carapace with a medial keel that is lost with age; the bridge is small, equal to the length of three marginal scutes; plastron long and wide with a deep anal notch. All digits have extensive webbing. Crown is olive brown, jaws yellow; carapace lacks a pattern, dark brown or black; plastron dark brown to yellow. 
 
This turtle has a wide, flat head with a large tympanum, granular skin on top of the head, and two small barbles on the chin. Adults have a smooth depressed carapace; juveniles may have a slight median keel lost with age; digits extensively webbed. Head olive-brown or gray, jaws yellow; carapace dark brown or black without a pattern; plastron light to dark brown or yellow. There is a population in Trinidad, Venezuela and Guyana and another in the western Amazon; it is also present in the Parana drainage of the Paraguay River. 
 
Literature records from Trinidad suggest it is a lowland species, but uncommon. Mohammed et al. (2010) surveyed Trinidad freshwater turtles and updated the island distributions. They found M. gibba isolated in the south-western drainages of the South Oropuche catchment based based on anecdotal evidence from local residents (in the Penal district) who gave vivid descriptions of the characteristic side folding neck. 
 
The species prefers stagnant or slow moving waters, including marshes, ponds, and streams in or near primary rainforests, gallery forests, in closed canopy situations; also in permanent ponds near Mauritia palms; ephemeral forest pools; often associated with mud substrates. Dry season aestivation occurs when temporary ponds dry. It is nocturnal. 
 
The diet includes insects, crustaceans, amphibian larvae, rivulid fish; plant material such as palm seeds and fruits; aquatic algae, florescences and seeds of aquatic macrophytes. 
 
Reproduction information is poorly known. Five clutches with 2−4 eggs; incubation ranges from 178−200 days; hatchlings show a preference for terrestrial rather than aquatic habitats. Captive reproduction data: clutch sizes of 2−8 eggs (x = 3.92), incubation periods of 140−272 days. Captive females grew from hatchlings to 190 mm in eight years, first reproduction at six years; males grew to 187 mm in six years, attempted copulation in fourth year.

Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans (Family Emydidae)

This is an invasive species in Trinidad.

Mohammed (2010) wrote, “Juveniles of Trachemys scripta elegans were imported in large numbers during the 1980s as part of the pet trade. Anecdotal evidence tells of several escapees across the island during that time. Their import was halted later in that decade. Currently, in addition to the Emperor Valley Zoo, there are at least three other privately owned collections of this American species where successful breeding occurs and of these, one is uncontrolled and weather determined. These specimens are possibly of 1980s stock, considering this turtle achieves sexual maturity at five years of age (Wibbels et al. 1998). There has now been resurgence in the popularity of this species and once again import has been permitted within the last four years. It should be noted that with the exception of these two adults, no other individuals have been recorded for the island. Communi­cation with J.C. Murphy revealed the existence of some individuals at a pond within the Arima Valley during the 1980s and 1990s. The natural distribution of T. scripta elegans occurs within the Mississippi Valley, from northern Illinois to south of the Gulf of Mexico (Lever 2003). There are records of its naturalization in over 30 countries, from Europe to Asia, Africa, South America, the West Indies, Australasia, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This species has also naturalized in a wider territory within North America (Lever 2003).The natural breeding habits and requirement for this species (Wibbels et al. 1998) are very similar to the local species (Murphy 1997) and it is possible that with the continued occurrence of escapes, they will colonize Trinidad. Similar to our local species, they are also omnivorous (Hart 1983), giving rise to the speculation of potential niche competition and poten­tially a new introduced exotic vertebrate to our drainages. Pritchard and Trebbau (1984) noted a much generalized diet for R. punctularia punctularia, feeding equally readily on land and in water. Our observations support this school of thought, but it should be noted that these feeding habits were aspects of specific captive behavior, and they were observed for Trachemys scripta elegans as well. The Emperor Valley Zoo has in the past housed this exotic species together with the agouti as a means of popu­lation control (the agoutis ate eggs of the turtles). Whilst the unnaturally high density of all species housed within the enclosure does not reflect the wild scenario, it demon­strates to some extent the potential niche competition and aggression the exotic species are capable of inflicting upon our native species.”

Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Loggerheads sometimes nest on Tobago, but rarely if ever on Trinidad. Adult Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) reach 113 kg and about a meter in length. They attain sexual maturity in about 35 years. Females nest from April-September and generally lay 3-5 nests per season. They have massive heads with powerful jaw muscles to crush their hard shelled prey, mostly molluscs (whelks and conch). Neonates are pelagic and float with drift lines of debris and rarely go below five meters in the water column. When they are 7-12 years old they move into nearshore coastal areas to feed and mature. Loggerheads are circumglobal in temperate and tropical latitudes of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.



Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas (Family Cheloniidae)

The Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas inhabits the tropical, and to a lesser extent, the subtropical seas of the world. This is a huge herbivorous sea turtle; although first year hatchlings are thought to be more carnivorous. After the second year the diet shifts and the turtle becomes more herbivorous, grazing on the sea grasses and algae, but they may still take prey. This species is capable of digesting cellulose as efficiently as any mammalian ruminant. Green turtles nest more often on Tobago than they do on Trinidad beaches. It is called the Green Turtle because of the color of its meat and fat.


Hawksbill, Eretmochelys imbricata (Family Cheloniidae)

These turtles do not commonly nest on the beaches of Trinidad and Tobago. But they can be seen foraging in coastal waters. Their head is elongated and tapers to a point, with a beak-like mouth, hence the common name. The shape of the mouth allows the hawksbill turtle to probe holes and crevices in coral reefs to forage on sponges and other invertebrates. Hawksbill turtles are the only marine turtles to have have two pairs of prefrontal scales the flippers usually has two claws. Male hawksbills mature about 70 cm. Females mature at about 80 cm. Female to their natal beaches every 2-3 years to nest. They usually nest high on the beach under or in the dune vegetation. During the breeding season females lay eggs every 14-16. Usually nesting occurs between April and November. A female hawksbill generally lays 3-5 nests per season, which contain an average of 130 eggs. The eggs incubate for about two months. Neonates are likely pelagic, floating in algal mats and drift lines of flotsam and jetsam in the Atlantic. Hawksbills rest on ledges in caves of coral reefs and use the same resting spot for periods of time.


Olive Ridley, Lepidochelys olivacea (Family Cheloniidae)

The Olive Ridley, Lepidochelys olivacea (Family Cheloniidae) occasionally nest on Tobago and possibly Trinidad. They are relatively small compared to other marine turtles. The species is pan-tropical but seems to avoid the Gulf of Mexico. Neonates are pelagic phase, drifting with currents that allow them to disperse far from their natal beaches, When sexual mature they migrate toward coastal zones and concentrate near nesting beaches. However, some males appear to remain in oceanic waters and mate with females while in route to their nesting beaches.


Leatherback Sea Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea (Family Dermochelyidae)


By any standard leatherbacks are spectacular animals. They are the largest living turtles; most adults have carapace lengths between 1.5 and 1.8 m and body masses of 209–480 kg. The record specimen, taken near Monterey, California in 1961 was considerably larger than average, weighing 867 kg. Hatchling Leatherbacks are 50-77 mm in length, and weigh 40-50 grams. Thus average-sized turtles increase their length about 34 times and their mass 9700 times– remarkable given their diet of scyphozoan jellyfish. 
 
Fossil evidence suggests dermochelyid turtles have been around since the Eocene, about 43 million years ago (MYA) but the DNA clock suggests a slightly earlier date for their origin, about 50 MYA. This is roughly the date when the two families of living sea turtles: the leathery sea turtles - Dermochelyidae and the hard-shelled sea turtles – Cheloniidae. While leatherbacks and hard shelled sea turtles share some morphology, ecology, and an ancestor (are marine, have legs modified into flippers, and only leave the water to lay eggs) the two families are quite distinct. The Cheloniidae (Green Turtles, Loggerheads, Ridleys, and Hawksbills) will make migratory ocean crossings, but they are primarily coastal turtles and stay over the continental shelf. However, Leatherbacks are pelagic, swimming and diving in truly deep water is what they do. Dives to depths of 200 m or less are common, and there are documented dives to 1230 m. Leatherbacks are also world travelers, and have been reported to swim straight line distances of 7000 km. One radio tracked individual moved 18,994 km over 8.1 months, swimming an average of almost 80 km per day.
Large body size is one way to avoid predation, but in the oceans, there are still large predators capable of using adult leatherbacks as food. Ovideo et al. (2008) have reported orcas (Oricinus orca) harassing leatherbacks off the northeast of Venezuela and summarize literature that suggests orcas do prey on leatherbacks. 
 
A suite of morphological and physiological adaptations adapt leatherbacks for their pelagic, globe-trotting lifestyle. They have been found within the Arctic Circle during the summer but some spend the summer in the tropics. Being active and surviving cold water is made possible by a mass of specialized tissue known as brown fat which generates heat combined with a counter current heat exchange system. Veins carrying cold blood from the limbs are parallel and adjacent to arteries carrying warmer blood from the body, and allow for heat exchange. 
 
Leatherbacks are probably making those deep dives to survey the water column for jellyfish, during the day large schools of jellies submerge in deep water, and rise to the surface to feed on plankton at night. Finding a school of jellyfish, may cause a Leatherback to stay in a location to feed. Their esophagus is lined with flesh, finger-like projections that trap prey so that the turtle can continue to feed without losing the jellyfish already captured and increasing the volume of prey that can be taken during a single feeding episode. 
 
Leatherbacks make excellent candidates for ecotourism, their large size and interesting natural history give them the charismatic status found in few other reptiles. Grand Riviere is a tiny fishing village on Trinidad’s north coast, and an unlikely stop for tourists. However, it has an exceptionally dense population of nesting female Leatherbacks. From March to August female turtles are depositing eggs every night and often in the later afternoon and early morning. The beach is relatively small, about 970 m long and 28 to 60 m wide and as pointed out, very accessible to people. A few female leatherbacks seem to nest early or late almost every day during the nesting season (May to October) and these were easily photographed. The night tours with guides have rules about not using electronic flashes because they tended to confuse the turtles when it came time to returning to the water. For this same reason residences and businesses located on turtle nesting beaches are often required to keep their lights off on the beach side of the buildings.


Arrau Sideneck Turtle, Podocnemis expansa (Family Pelomedusidae)

This turtle may be an occasional waif from the Orinoco River and reach Trinidad. It is unlikely to have established extant populations on either island. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and W. Endo.

Neotropical Wood Turtle, Rhinoclemmys punctularia (Family Geoemydidae)


The only members of the family Geoemydidae to occur in the western hemisphere are members of the genus Rhinoclemmys. The Neotropical wood turtle reaches 290 mm, 200 mm is about average size for adults; hatchlings are about 38−47 mm in carapace length. Females are slightly larger than males.

A semi-aquatic turtle with a dark brown to black carapace, with indistinct yellow areas on each scute which may disappear with age; mid dorsal keel serrated posteriorly; . The plastron up-turned anteriorly, lacks hinges, posterior edge in notched; the head is small with, often with paired red blotches on the crown and yellow reticulations in ate area of the ear. The forelimbs have yellow or red spotted scales; feet are webbed, but not columnar as in the tortoises. Similar species: The lack of barbles on the chin will separate this species from Mesoclemmys, the absence of hinges on the plastron separate it from Kinosternon, and the red coloration on the head separates it from Trachemys which has red markings in the area of the ear.

Coastal drainages of eastern Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad (possibly Tobago), Guyana, French Guiana, Surinam, northeast Brazil; many of these populations are disjunct. Mohammed et al. (2010) added nine locations mostly in the southern part of the island to those already reported by Murphy (1997). The only evidence this turtle occurs on Tobago comes from Hardy (1982) who reported it from Tobago at Bloody Bay (an apparent waif), and near Hillsborough Dam. Habitat: Marshes, wet savannas, swamps, creeks, streams, roadside ditches, canals, agricultural ponds, they also occur in coastal areas and can be expected in mangroves in low salinity water.

Nocturnal. Diet is omnivorous, includes algae, fungi, plants (fruits, seeds); invertebrates (worms), and carrion. Reproduction, females lay small clutches (1-4) eggs in crevices, or on the forest floor covered with leaves. Females may mature at 150 mm.

Other common names: spot-legged turtle; spotted-legged terrapin; painted wood turtle.

Scorpion Mud Turtle, Kinosternon scorpioides (Family Kinosternidae)

A relatively common turtle in Trinidad.

Carapace is domed with three well-developed longitudinal keels which become less obvious with age. Attains 175 mm in length. The plastron is hinged between the pectoral and abdominal scutes, and there is no posterior anal notch. The head is large with a projecting snout and hooked upper jaw. Two large barbles on the chin are followed by two or three smaller pairs. The head is gray- brown, darker above and lighter laterally; the jaws uniform yellow or streaked. Neck, limbs, and tail are gray brown. Carapaces of both sexes are about the same length, but is broader in females.

It occurs at low elevations from southern Tamaulipas, Mexico, southward to northern Argentina, Bolivia, and northern Peru. It is widespread on Trinidad, unknown from Tobago. The species is polytypic with four subspecies.

Habitat includes streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. If its waterway dries up, it will bury itself in the mud bottom until the next rain. It is omnivorous. Diet includes algae, plants, insects, mollusks, fish, and amphibians. Nesting occurs from March to May. Clutch size is 6-16 eggs, requiring about 90 days of incubation time. Spinks et al. (2014) supported previous research suggesting there is much uncertainty regarding species delimitation in the K. scorpioides and K. subrubrum groups. They suggest a taxonomic revisions within these groups would be premature.

Yellow-headed Sideneck Turtle, Podocnemis unifilis (Family Pelomedusidae)


Occurs as a waif in Trinidad waters. A 10 September 2012 a story in Newsday reported several individuals of this species on Manzanilla Beach; the article included a photograph confirming the identity of the turtles as this species.
Maximum carapace size about 680 mm in females, about 330 mm in males; hatchlings are about 40 mm in carapace length. 
 
Carapace dark brown to black, oval with a low medial keel on the second and third vertebral scutes; posterior portion is flared; overall coloration is mostly gray; it lacks the interorbital groove found in all other species of the genus Venezuelan specimens tend to have a single chin barbel. Juveniles have yellow and orange head spots including one on the snout; these fade quickly in females but are retained by adult males. Similar species: Perhaps most easily confused with Podocnemis expansa that has only yellow head spots, and lacks the spot on the snout; it also lacks the medial keel found in this species. Smooth skin on the head of this species will distinguish it from Mesoclemmys gibba which has granular skin on its crown. 

Widespread in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. 

A highly aquatic species, that basks on occasion, it uses small streams, ponds, and flooded forest and during the dry season restricts it activity to remaining bodies of water. Diurnal, but nesting occurs at night. 

Its diet is mostly herbivorous including fruits, stems, and leaves of aquatic plants; but also includes molluscs and dead fish. 

It nests earlier in the season than P. expansa, and females do not form the large nesting aggregations that its congener does. Nesting occurs on sandbanks close to the water. Clutch sizes range from 19−41 with larger females producing more eggs. This turtle is hunted by humans for food.


Red-footed Tortoise, Chelonoidis carbonaria (Family Testudinidae)


Average carapace length: males 250−360 mm, females 260−330 mm, hatchlings 56−61 mm; some individuals reach exceptional sizes 410−512 mm. A terrestrial turtle, with cylindrical legs. The carapace has a relatively flat top, is black with small yellow areas around the areolae; limbs also black, scales have red tips; carapace of males constricted in the center. In the Neotropics it can only be confused with G. denticulata, which as a brown carapace, the areola are lighter in color that outer parts of the scute, but the color change is not well defined and it has scales on the limbs and hear yellow or orange. 

It ranges from southern Panama, Colombia (both sides of the Andes), Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, Brazil, Peru, E Bolivia, Paraguay, N Argentina. West Indian island population may have resulted from over water dispersal (tortoises float well), human mediated dispersal (humans transport them for food) or a combination of both.

This is a grassland, savanna, open scrub forest, gallery forest, stands of Mauritia palms surrounded by savanna, and it seem to be tolerant of forest–edge as well as inhabiting rainforest in low densities in areas with nearby savanna. It has also been found using cultivated land. In forest and forest-savanna mosaics it is sympatric with G. denticulata. Trinidad underwent multiple shifting habitats from having lowlands submerged to savanna, to forest and because it has been connected – isolated and re-connected to Venezuela many times there is reason to think this tortoise was part of the native fauna. It is diurnal. Its diet includes a variety of fungi, plant and animal material, and preferred foods are those easily fermented with a high concentration of minerals. This tortoise feeds primarily on fruits and found 90% of the seeds in scat samples intact, implying tortoises can be important seed dispersers. 

Courtship behavior seems to keep females of this species from breeding with C. denticulata; male C. carbonaria approach another tortoise head on and perform a single sideways sweep the head (courting male C. denticulata uses a series of lateral jerks) if the tortoise approached is a male it responds with a similar display, and the behavior that follows may result in a fight. If the animal approached does not respond the male sniffs the cloacal area and mating may follow. Courtship and copulation are initiated by the rainy season. Nesting occurs from July to September on the mainland; clutch size is 2−7; females excavate a nest with their hind legs; incubation 105−220 days, average about 150 days.
Humans are major predators of this tortoise, in Venezuela it is a traditional meal during holy week, and while the turtle is protected in Venezuela and other countries, it continues to be collected and eaten. Other common names In Venezuela this species and G. denticulata, are known as the morrocoy. The preferred English name for this species is red-footed tortoise.


Morocoy, Yellow-footed Tortoise, Chelonoidis denticulata (Family Testudinidae)

An uncommon tortoise on Trinidad. Size: Reaches 70 cm in carapace length (males), although usually most specimens do not grow beyond 50 cm; males smaller than females; hatchling carapace lengths 47−56 mm. A large terrestrial turtle with cylindrical legs; carapace shape variable may be flat or domed; males lack a constriction of the carapace. On Trinidad it could only be confused with C. carbonaria. This species has a carapace pattern that has less contrast than C. carbonaria; the carapace is brown, the areolae are lighter than outer portion of scutes; scales on legs and head markings are yellow or orange.Distribution is Amazonian (SE Venezuela, lowland Guyana, French Guiana, and Surinam; Amazon Basin of Brazil isolated population in eastern Brazil, eastern Ecuador, Colombia, northeast Peru, north and eastern Bolivia). In the West Indies it has been introduced into Guadeloupe and St. John (US Virgin Islands). In Trinidad it probably existed in the lower elevations throughout most of the island, and now may be restricted to localized areas. All Trinidad museum material lacks specific locality data. Habitat: A deep rainforest species, which may use more open habitats including tree falls in forested areas and forest edge, found up to 800 m in elevation. It is diurnal. Diet is omnivorous including fungi, plants, live insects, and carrion. Courtship displays differs from that of G. carbonaria (see that account). Reproduction may be seasonal and geographically variable. Clutch sizes of 10−20 eggs reported, but may be smaller 1-8, with an average size of 4 to 5 per clutch. Females may produce two clutches per season. Females may construct a nest and bury eggs, or they may be laid in the leaf litter and not covered with soil. Incubation is 128−152 days (average about 136).

Other common names: morocoy, morrocoy; morrocoy amarillo. English names for this species include yellow footed tortoise, South American forest tortoise, and Brazilian giant tortoise.


American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus (Family Crocodylidae)

This species may occur as a waif in Trinidad and Tobago waters. It is unlikely to be represented by an established extant population. Size to 7 m. A large crocodile with a preobital hump which will separate it from the Orinoco Crocodile. The fourth tooth in the lower jaw is visible, and it lacks the interorbital ridge these will distinguish it from the common caiman which has the fourth tooth hidden and a distinct interorbital ridge.Distribution includes central Mexico southward through Central America, present on both coasts; on the Pacific as far south as northern Peru and to at least the mouth of the Orinoco along the northern coast; the Caribbean, and southern Florida. Some 19th century authors considered this species part of the Trinidad herpetofauna and it has been found in archeological sites. Currently most crocodilian biologists would consider Trinidad specimens waifs from other populations. Thus it appears that this large animal was at one time present in Trinidad and is now extirpated, possibly due to human predation, habitat destruction, or some combination of these factors. Mangrove forests, salt marshes, and brackish creeks are likely habitats but it also occurs in larger freshwater rivers and freshwater lakes with access to coastal areas. Adults use a den 3-9 m into a stream bank with the entrance below the waterline. Eggs are deposited in a mound nest.



Spectacled Caiman, Caiman crocodilius (Family Alligatoridae)

Spectacled Caiman, Caiman crocodilus (Family Alligatoridae)

Caiman crocodilus is a widespread species ranging from Oaxaca, Mexico, southward to the Paraguay River in Paraguay. C. c. crocodilus has an Amazonian distribution. It occurs on Trinidad and Tobago, and possibly other near shore islands. On both islands it is found at lower elevations, although it will follow streams into hills and colonize man-made reservoirs. Caimans inhabit brackish and freshwater environments in Trinidad. It is best seen at night standing on bridges over streams and looking for eye shine along the banks and on the water's surface. Courtship occurs in the dry season and early wet season; nests are made of grass in grassland habitats, and leaves, twigs, and soil are used in forest habitats; vegetation is formed into a mound, a nest chamber is excavated, and eggs deposited; the sequence requires 2-7 days; mean clutch size is 28.6; nests are visited and repaired by females. The matte, Tupinambis teguixin, is the major nest predator. The photo below was taken in Nariva Swamp.