Central American river turtle

Generally known as Hickatee, it is the sole surviving species of its family

A freshwater turtle species that is native to the rivers, lakes, and lagoons of Central America. With a geographic range that includes southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, these turtles prefer habitats that provide calm waters and abundant vegetation.

The shell of the hickatee is notably thick and robust, providing a formidable defense against natural predators. Its smooth, almost leather-like appearance is distinctive, and unlike many turtles with ridged or patterned shells, the hickatee’s carapace stands out for its sleekness. The turtle’s shell also has a low dome, which is an adaptation that allows for easier swimming in the river currents and maneuvering through aquatic vegetation.

These turtles are known for their adaptability in terms of habitat; they are not particular and can thrive in virtually any freshwater aquatic environment within their natural range. However, they prefer larger bodies of water, such as lagoons, lakes, and rivers, where they can be found lounging in the sun on riverbanks or floating in the water.

Unfortunately, the Hickatee has faced devastating declines due to human activities. Their docile nature and tendency to be inactive during the day make them easy targets for hunters. The Hickatee is considered a delicacy in many parts of its range, and the demand for its meat in local markets has led to overhunting. This, combined with habitat destruction due to agricultural expansion and pollution, has put the Hickatee in a precarious position.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Belize
2006
Guatemala
2006
Honduras
2006
Presence Uncertain, Origin Uncertain
Mexico
2006

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size)/ Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No