Curiosities,  Mexico

The wildlife of the Riviera Maya and its environment XVII

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Scientific: Rhinoclemmys areolata Duméril, Bibron & Duméril
Maaya t’aan: Chak pool
English: Furrowed wood turtle

Description: This is a medium-sized freshwater turtle, reaching up to 20 cm (almost eight inches) in length. Its carapace—upper shell—can vary in color from brown with an olive-green cast, to black.

Its neck bears red and/or yellow bands, these being the origin of the Maya name, which means “red head.” It feeds primarily on herbaceous plants, but on occasion will eat fruit, insects and carrion. Unlike marine turtles, this species lays only one or two eggs at a time.

Habitat: It inhabits mangrove forests, other forests subject to flooding, and cenotes.
Threats: The destruction of its natural habitats; the pollution of fresh water; collisions with motor vehicles; collection for keeping as pets or for eatin.

Uses and beliefs: This animal is favored traditionally as a source of food.

How to protect it: Do not capture them; support the protection of mangroves and cenotes, and environmental protection programs which seek to reduce the pollution of the aquifer and wetlands.

If you find one on the road, move it to the edge of the closest forest or cenote, to help avoid collisions with motor vehicles. It is important that you wash your hands immediately if you touch one of these animals, because they may carry infectious bacteria.

Where to observe it: Along the edges of flooded forestland, especially mangroves, and near or in cenotes; on roads near flooded forests.


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