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Chelydra rossignonii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA TESTUDINES CHELYDRIDAE

Scientific Name: Chelydra rossignonii
Species Authority: (Bocourt, 1868)
Common Name(s):
English Central American Snapping Turtle
Spanish Servengue, Chiquiguao, Tortuga Lagarto, Zambundango
Synonym(s):
Chelydra serpentina subspecies rosignonii Bocourt, 1868)
Emysaurus rossignonii Bocourt, 1868
Taxonomic Notes: Phillips et al. (1996) elevated rossignonii and acutirostris to species level (from geographically isolated subspecies of C. serpentina) based on genetic differentiation.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): van Dijk, P.P., J Lee, J., Calderón Mandujano, R., Flores-Villela, O., Lopez-Luna, M.A. & Vogt, R.C.
Reviewer(s): Buskirk, J.R. & Rhodin, A.G.J. (Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable as according to available anecdotal field observations and exploitation data, this species is inferred to have declined over 30% over the past 30 years and this decline is ongoing.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: From Veracruz, Mexico, through southern Belize, central Guatemala to northwestern Honduras; not known from Yucatan (Iverson 1992).

Smith and Smith (1979: 355) discussed records of Chelydra serpentina serpentina in northern Mexico and concluded that these are unfounded.
Countries:
Native:
Belize; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: No specific information is available. Few records are available, and concerted searches for the species have resulted in very few captures, indicating rareness (Vogt in litt. 30 Jan 2007). In southern Belize and Mexico they are not common, but they were thought to be more so in the past (Smith and Smith 1979). Overall the species appears rare and a decline of over 30% over the past 30 years was considered possible or probable by Global Reptile Assessment (GRA) workshop participants.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Almost no information specific to C. rossignoni is available. Because it was so recently removed from C. serpentina, much of the information presented in accounts of Central American herpetofauna is presented as Chelydra serpentina, and it is almost impossible to separate what facts pertain to Central American populations and what is extrapolated from the Snapping Turtle's well-studied biology in the US.

In Guatemala, C. rossignoni prefers quiet oxbows and backwater sloughs, being frequently encountered in the small, slow-moving tributaries that run into large, more open waterbodies, but also occurring in large, deep rivers. It is rarely encountered in clear-water situations, hiding instead in debris or vegetation of rather murky water (Campbell 1998).

In Central America, Chelydra is apparently predominantly nocturnal and completely aquatic, not emerging to bask (Campbell 1998).

C. rossignoni feeds on a wide variety of food items, including freshwater prawns and shrimp, crabs, clams, frogs, insects, fish, occasionally small vertebrates, algae, water plants, and fallen tree fruits.

A single nesting female measured in northwestern Honduras in May by Medem (in Iverson et al. 1997) was 37 cm CL, and weighed an estimated 12 kg. In Chiapas, Mexico, nesting occurs in April-June (Alvarez del Toro 1962 in Iverson et al. 1997). Clutch size ranges from 20 to 30 eggs (Alvarez del Toro 1983 in Lee 1996, Vog, in litt. 30 Jan 2007).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Smith and Smith (1979) noted this taxon to be eaten for food, but its main cause of potential decline to be gradual habitat destruction. Subsequent observations indicate that exploitation for consumption has been a driving force of decline. It is being commercially farmed in small numbers for the pet trade in southern Veracruz.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Turtles in general are protected from exploitation under Guatemalan and Mexican wildlife and natural resource legislation; implementation is uneven and in places better enforcement may be needed.

Information on all aspects of the occurrence, status, biology and conservation of the Central American Snapping Turtle is needed. Confirmation of likely occurrence in San Roman Biological Reserve and Sierra de Lacandón N.P. in Guatemala, Cusuco N.P. in Honduras, and Los Tuxtlas and Pantanos de Centla Biosphere Reserves in Mexico, would be desirable. A conservation breeding programme exists at Nacajuca, Tabasco.

Citation: van Dijk, P.P., J Lee, J., Calderón Mandujano, R., Flores-Villela, O., Lopez-Luna, M.A. & Vogt, R.C. 2007. Chelydra rossignonii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 December 2014.
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