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Central American River Turtle: Dermatemydidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Central American River Turtles And PeopleGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS

Central American river turtles live in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.

Although some of them may wander into somewhat salty water, Central American river turtles live mainly in freshwater, such as rivers and large lakes. The turtles live in the lowlands of southern Mexico near the Gulf of Mexico. They also live in Belize and northern Guatemala, and possibly in Honduras.

Central American river turtles eat mostly plants. They prefer figs and other fruits as well as leaves that fall into the water from the trees lining the shoreline. They also eat plants that grow in the water and sometimes an insect, fish, or mollusk (MAH-lusk). Mollusks are soft-bodied animals covered by a shell, such as snails and clams.

Both the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service label the Central American river turtle as Endangered, or facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild or throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Some governments have protected these turtles, which makes hunting or collecting them illegal.



Burnie, David, and Don E. Wilson, eds. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley, 2001.

Lee, Julian C. The Amphibians and Reptiles of the Yucatán Peninsula. Ithaca, NY: Comstock, 1996.

Web sites:

"Family Dermatemydidae (Mesoamerican River Turtles)." http://www.embl-heidelberg.de/uetz/families/Dermatemydidae.html (accessed on August 7, 2004).

Lowry, H. 2001. "Dermatemys mawii." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Dermatemys_mawii.html (accessed on August 7, 2004).

"Mexico Coalition Launches Strategy to Stop Destruction of Country's Richest Forest." Conservation International. http://www.conservation.org/xp/news/press_releases/2003/062603.xml (accessed on August 7, 2004.

"Turtle, Central American River." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://ecos.fws.gov/species_profile/SpeciesProfile?spcode=C04H (accessed on August 7, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other Reptiles