Hicatee Facts

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Blog, Educator, Turtle Conservation | 2 Comments

One of the most critically endangered turtle species in the world, the hicatee turtle is facing extinction in Belize. Overhunting for human consumption is the greatest threat. It is crucial that we act now to preserve the hicatee, the last of its kind, for future generations.  

Use these resources created by Hicatee Conservation Network members to learn more about the hicatee turtle! They can be used to share with your friends and family at a viewing party of the film, ‘Hope for Belize’s Hicatee: Central American River Turtle’ in your classroom, if you are an educator, or simply impress your friends with your new found chelonian knowledge! 

HICATEE FACTS

Central American River Turtle / Dermatemys mawii / Hicatee turtle

STATUS: The Hicatee turtle is one of Belize’s few critically endangered animals. This means that the turtle is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

THREAT: Overhunting for human consumption is the greatest threat.  

EVOLUTION: The Hicatee is the lone surviving representative in a family of turtles dating back to the age of dinosaurs.

RANGE: Hicatees are found in southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize.

HABITAT: These fully aquatic turtles live in deep rivers, lagoons, and other freshwater bodies.  

DIET: Hicatees are completely herbivorous (vegetarian) from hatchling to adulthood. They feed on the shoreline and submerged vegetation including leaves, grasses, fruits, and flowers.

RESPIRATION: These turtles acquire oxygen from breathing through their nostrils and have a gill-like structure in their throat that allows them to absorb oxygen from the water.

NESTING: Nesting frequently occurs below the surface of the water in muddy banks.

EGGS: Eggs are laid in clutches of 8-14. Eggs undergo delayed development (called Embryonic Diapause) and can take up to 6 months to hatch.

HATCHLINGS: Hatchling turtles emerge from the egg by using a single sharp tooth to break through the shell. This action is called “pipping.” The egg tooth drops off a few weeks to months after hatching.

SEXUAL DIMORPHISM: Males and females are sexually dimorphic meaning that the males look different than females. Adult males have bright yellow heads and significantly larger tails.

TEMPERATURE REGULATION: Unlike most reptiles, Hicatees do not bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature.

LIFESPAN: Records indicate up to 45 years, but likely they live much longer.

RESEARCH: The Hicatee Conservation and Research Center (HCRC) located in the Toledo District is the only captive breeding facility in the world that conducts research on this turtle’s natural history and reproductive biology.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Julio Uck
    October 2, 2017

    Belizeans United in Innovation, Learning, & Development (BUILD Belize) Is a grassroots capacity building organization.

    Reply
    • Tyler Sanville
      November 20, 2017

      Thank you BUILD Belize, I look forward to learning more about your work in Belize!

      Reply

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