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 the genus Terrapene, this turtle spends roughly 90% of its time in water.
It is a close relative to the common box turtle (T. carolina). Researchers have therefore suggested that it developed from a nonaquatic 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 (300 sq mi), there are several distinct pockets of this species. During the rainy season, Coahuilan box 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.
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, it 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.
- Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter. (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 200. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Berg, William. "Aquatic or Coahuilan Box Turtle – Terrapene coahuila". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- Brown WS. (1974). "Ecology of the aquatic box turtle Terrapene coahuila (Chelonia, Emydidae), with comments on its evolutionary status". Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 19: 1–67.
- Schmidt KP, Owens DW. (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 JG, McGaugh SE, Hendrickson DA. (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 foundation. 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