Thursday, March 31, 2016

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.

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