Coahuilan box turtle
|Coahuilan box turtle|
|Coahuilan box turtle (Terrapene coahuila) at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium|
Schmidt & Owens, 1944
The Coahuilan box turtle (Terrapene coahuila), or aquatic box turtle, is an endangered species of turtle in the Emydidae family. Unlike the other members of Terrapene, this turtle spends roughly 90% of its time in water.
It is a close relative to the Common box turtle (T. Carolina). Researchers has therefore suggested that it developed from a non-aquatic species in order to survive in the desert-springs of Cuatro Ciénegas.
It is endemic to the vicinity of Cuatro Ciénegas in Coahuila, Mexico. Within an area of less than 800 km², there are several distinct pockets of this species. During the rainy season, turtles may leave their home range and travel throughout the desert.
It is associated with marshes and springs, and is the only aquatic species within its genus. It is typically encountered among tall grass and brush in marshy areas, and prefers shallow water with dense vegetation (such as Chara spp, Eleocharis rostellata, and Scirpus olneyi) and a muddy bottom. By digging down into the mud, the turtle can cool itself down.
The body is adapted for spending long periods of time in the water, and the shell is often covered in algae. Just like any other box turtle, is has a hinged shell that can be completely closed. The skin is dark; usually dark brown and dark gray, but some areas can appear completely black.
This is an opportunistic feeder that will devour both plants and other animals. It will for instance eat fly larvae, dragonfly nymphs, beetles, true bugs, reptiles, fish, crayfish and plant matter (such as Eleocharis spp.) in the wild.
Mating takes place in shallow water from September to June, and eggs are laid from May to September. The eggs are laid in small clutches, typically consisting of just 2-3 eggs per clutch.
- Fritz, Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 200. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- William Berg. "Aquatic or Coahuilan Box Turtle – Terrapene Coahuila". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- Brown, W. S (1974). "Ecology of the aquatic box turtle Terrapene coahuila (Chelonia, Emydade), with comments on its evolutionary status". Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 19: 1–67.
- Schmidt, K.P., and D.W. Owens. 1944. Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Coahuila, Mexico. Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. 29 (6): 97-115. ("Terrapene coahuila sp. nov.", pp. 101–103.)
- Howeth, J.G.; McGaugh, S.E. & Hendrickson, D.A. 2008. Contrasting demographic and genetic estimates of dispersal in the endangered Coahuilan box turtle: a contemporary approach to conservation. Molecular Ecology 17: 4209–4221.
- Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group 1996. Terrapene coahuila. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 29 July 2007.
- Coahuilan Box Turtle at Boxturtles.com Downloaded on 28 July 2013.
- Desert Fishes Council Cuatrociénegas conservation fundation. Downloaded on 28 July 2013.
- Coahuilan box turtle slide show at the University of Texas in Austin. Downloaded on 28 July 2013.
- Media related to Terrapene coahuila at Wikimedia Commons