Magdalena river turtle

Rockin’ its shell since the Cretaceous era, proves that age is just a number

D. Gordon E. Robertson

A freshwater turtle species endemic to Colombia, specifically the Magdalena River basin. This turtle’s large, dome-shaped shell serves as a defense mechanism against natural predators and aids in buoyancy as the turtle navigates the river’s currents.

The carapace of the Magdalena river turtle is adorned with captivating patterns of dark brown and yellow markings, which add to its aesthetic appeal and play a role in camouflage among the riverbed vegetation and murky waters. These turtles have strong, muscular limbs with webbed feet, which make them proficient swimmers.

An integral part of their life cycle involves a remarkable nesting ritual. Female Magdalena river turtles undertake the perilous journey from the safety of the water to the banks of the Magdalena River, where they lay their eggs. They excavate nests in the sandy shores, depositing their eggs before meticulously covering them to ensure their protection. This process leaves the nests vulnerable to predators such as birds, mammals, and even humans, who may harvest the eggs for consumption.

Once they emerge, the hatchlings face the daunting task of traveling back to the water, a perilous journey where they must evade many predators. Those who survive will continue to grow and contribute to the river’s ecosystem, playing their part in maintaining the balance of aquatic life.


Population est.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous (size) / 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