Added 8 April 2003. Last updated February 11 2004.


Genus Common Name No. of species Location Notes
Dermatemys Mesoamerican/Central American River Turtle /Tabasco Turtle 1 S Mexico, N Guatemala, Belize, NW Honduras The sole species in this family is Dermatemys mawii, whose details are as follows. The species grows to an adult length of about 2ft. The shell scutes are thin but serve to protect the underlying thick layer of bone, which is very strong. In older individuals the sutures fade. The smooth carapace is joined to the plastron by a wide bridge, with a complete row of inframarginals separating the two. Dermatemys turtles bask by floating, rarely leaving the water: in fact barnacles may accumulate on the shell. Females nest during the height of the rainy period: floodwaters wash the turtles into narrow tributaries where they lay eggs just above the water level. As the waters recede the risk of nest flooding is correspondingly diminished. Clutch size averages about 20. Adults are mainly herbivorous. Local humans consider the flesh of the turtle a delicacy: the other main predator is the river otter. Müller describes this species as practically unkeepable, and notes that it has only been kept in a few zoos. Coloration: carapace brownish, plastron somewhat lighter.


Turtles and Tortoises of the World, David Alderton, Blandford, London 1999.

Schildkröten, Gerhard Müller, Eugen Ullmer, Stuttgart 1995.

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