Dermatemys mawii
Central American River Turtle

    • Habitat:
      - Large rivers
      - Lakes
      - Oxbows
      - Flooded forests
    • Threats:
      - Unsustainable harvesting for human consumption
      - Habitat degradation
    • Conservation Efforts:
      - Captive breeding and assurance colonies
      - Reintroduction projects
      - Field surveys
      - Habitat protection
      - Community engagement
      - Protected throughout its range
      - CITES Appendix II
    • Wild Population:
      - Decreasing
      - Extirpated from many areas of its historic range
      - Surviving populations highly reduced
    • Endangered Status:
      Critically Endangered

Fast Facts

The Hicatee is so adapted for a fully aquatic existence that it has evolved highly vascularized papillae in its larynx (hollow muscular organ forming an air passage to the lungs). The Hicatee will draw water into the mouth, where the oxygen diffuses across these papillae and into the respiratory tract, before the water is expelled through the nose. This allows them to stay submerged for a virtually unlimited amount of time.

Another adaption for an aquatic lifestyle is found in its reproductive habits. Females will lay eggs beneath the substrate of the shoreline or very close to it during the wet season. As the water levels rise with the prolonged rains, the eggs are able to undergo an embryonic diapause (temporary halt in development), to prevent the embryo from dying due to substrate saturation and low oxygen availability. Once the waters recede, the embryos will begin or resume their development.

Species Snapshot