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Overview

Distribution

Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima is comprised of four subspecies which collectively range from Sonora, Mexico to Costa Rica. They are the only turtles of the subfamily Batagurinae to occur in the New World (Ernst and Barbour, 1989). Note: Some herpetologists consider this group of turtles as a separate family, the Bataguridae.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Continent: Middle-America
Distribution: Mexico (Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas),  Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica  pulcherrima: Mexico (Guerrero, Oaxaca) incisa: Mexico (Oaxaca) through N Nicaragua. manni: S Nicaragua through Costa Rica  
Type locality: "Mexico"; restricted by Smith and Taylor 1950:30, to "Presidio de Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico; restriction corrected by Ernst 1978:125, to the "vicinity of San Marcos, Guerrero, Mexico" (cited after KING & BURKE 1989).
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© Peter Uetz

Source: The Reptile Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima is an attractive species with thin red lines on the face and extensive areas of red and black vermiculations on the limbs, thighs, and tail as well as on the ventral parts of the marginal scutes and near the midline of the plastron. It has a small head with finely serrated jaw edges. (Pritchard, 1979) The carapace is light brown with a ridge down the middle and moderate sculpturing on the scutes. The plastron is yellowish with red markings visible on the marginals. The shell is somewhat elongated. (McCormick, 1998) Males reach a carapace length of 18 cm and have a concave plastron and a longer thicker tail, with the vent beyond the carapacial margin. Females are larger (up to 20 cm CL) with a flat plastron that is slightly upturned anteriorly, and a shorter tail with the vent beneath the carapace edge. The carapace is flatter and broader in the northern parts of the range, and domed and narrower southward. (Ernst and Barbour, 1989) One subspecies, Rhinoclemmys p. rogerbarbouri has an interesting carapace that is somewhat wedge-shaped dorsally and with straight, posteriorly diverging sides, and upturned marginal edges in some specimens. This forms a "gutter" that may serve to direct rain water towards the mouth, as has been observed with some species of tortoises. (Pritchard, 1979)

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima is a terrestrial lowland species, primarily an inhabitant of scrub lands and moist woodlands, but also occurs in gallery forest close to streams. The red terrapin seems, at least in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to prefer moist situations, and has been observed wading and swimming in streams and rain pools, especially during the dry season. (Ernst and Barbour, 1989)

Terrestrial Biomes: scrub forest

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Trophic Strategy

Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima is omnivorous. It feeds on wildflowers, grasses, fruit (guavas, mangos, oranges), insects, worms, and fish. (Ernst and Barbour, 1989) Even though they may spend some of their time soaking in ponds or other bodies of water, they normally eat on land. (McCormick, 1998)

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
20.4 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 20.4 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima lays several clutches of three to five eggs from May to December. Eggs may be buried in soil or leaf litter. The eggs are elongated and brittle-shelled. (IUCN, 1998) The eggs measure 24-32 mm x 37-52 mm. Hatchlings measure from 35 to 50 mm in carapace length. (Ernst and Barbour, 1989) This species has temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) Pattern Ia (Ewert and Nelson, 1991). Within the temperature range suitable for incubation, eggs incubated at cooler temperatures produce mostly males, while warmer eggs produce females. At 24C to 27C all males will form. When eggs are incubated at 30C only 25% of hatchlings will be males, and above 30C only females hatch out. (Ewert and Nelson, 1991)

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Collecting (for food and the pet trade) and deforestation are the major threats to this turtle. Their natural predators include crocodiles, birds, and mammals. (IUCN, 1998)

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

This species is harmless to human interests.

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Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima may serve as a biological control of agricultural (especially insect) pests (IUCN, 1998). Because Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima is so attractive (especially R. p. manni) it is often exploited for the pet trade. Unfortunately this species seldom does well in captivity and usually dies within the first year.

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Wikipedia

Painted wood turtle

Not to be confused with painted turtle.

The ornate or painted wood turtle[2] (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) is a turtle species of the genus Rhinoclemmys in the family Geoemydidae. There are four recognized subspecies.[3]

Description[edit]

Plastron of a painted wood turtle

Painted wood turtles can grow to a maximum length of 20 cm. It has a dome-shaped carapace and the plastron has a continuous ventral line. It has red stripes on it's body and it has webbed feet.

Distribution[edit]

It is found in Mexico (from Sonora southwards) and Central America, down to Costa Rica.

Habitat[edit]

Painted wood turtles live in rainforests, shallow rivers and bushes. Although they are mostly terrestrial, but can also be floor born in shallow water.

Diet[edit]

The painted wood turtle feeds on fruits, insects, and worms.

Breeding[edit]

Painted wood turtles are oviparous. Females lay 3-5 eggs at a time. Eggs at low temperatures can be dormant early stages, and can sleep for some time at low temperatures, when the temperature returns to normal incubation can proceed.

In captivity[edit]

Painted wood turtles can be kept as pets, and it has long been imported into the various parts of Asia, such as Japan , Taiwan and China. The nominate subspecies is the most common subspecies kept in captivity. They would eat commercial turtle food, and would also eat plant matter.

Subspecies[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 243–245. ISSN 18640-5755. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima, The Reptile Database
  3. ^ "Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
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