Thursday, March 31, 2016

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.

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