Terrestrial turtle trek to Waka

Indigo Expeditions Wildlife Research & Endangered Species Conservation in Guatemala

Terrestrial turtle trek to Waka

We like to include a day trek to Waka on our Expeditions to Las Guacamayas. I waited until the end of my stay in July 2015 to visit the ancient Mayan site… now when I say ‘trek’ that’s open to interpretation… as I happily ventured there in a small 4×4 called ‘Mulita’.

Still the journey took two hours, partially caused by the abundance of turtles we found on the way! Each time the 4×4 approached a ditch in the road, we slowed down to allow them to either crawl into the water in the ditches to avoid the vehicle, or crawl out of the ditches and run for cover to the side of the road!

Our driver and Guide Cornelio was expert at spotting them, and soon we had found all three species of terrestrial turtle that are found in the Laguna del Tigre National Park.

First up… the Tabasco mud turtle (Kinosternon acutum). These are the most common of the terrestrial turtles we find in the forest. And also the smallest. A ridge down the centre of its carapace is a distinguishing feature of this species.

Next, the furrowed wood turtle (Rhinoclemys areolata). This is the most terrestrial of the three species that can be found in the forest, and the largest. It has little webbing on its feet, more like a tortoise, as it spends most time on the ground. They can often be found walking in the forest quite a distance from water sources, unlike the other two species.

I was just saying to Rowland ‘wouldn’t it be great if we saw all three species today’ and Cornelio stopped again.. and lo and behold .. there was the white-faced mud turtle (Kinosternon leucostomum) swimming in a rut in the road!

The white-faced mud turtle is the most secretive as we haven’t found that many individuals. Larger than the Tabasco mud turtle, it can easily be distinguished by the white sides to its face, and a smooth carapace.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get very good photographs of this individual as we realised we were standing right underneath a bees nest! It was time to make a quick exit…

This was an awesome start to the day that turned out to be wildlife filled… but thats for another post…

August 2015 Laguna del Tigre, Guatemala

Tabasco mud turtle – Kinosternon acutum

Rowland with the Tabasco mud turtle – Kinosternon acutum

Furrowed wood turtle – Rhinoclemys areolata

Indigo Expeditions Wildlife Research & Endangered Species Conservation in Guatemala

Rowland with Cornelio looking for Tabasco mud turtles in the road ditches.

Indigo Expeditions Wildlife Research & Endangered Species Conservation in Guatemala

White faced mud turtle – Kinosternon leucostomum… in there somewhere!

Indigo Expeditions Wildlife Research & Endangered Species Conservation in Guatemala
Indigo Expeditions Wildlife Research & Endangered Species Conservation in Guatemala
Indigo Expeditions Wildlife Research & Endangered Species Conservation in Guatemala
Published : 2nd June 2016

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1 Comment

  1. Adela

    I wonder how much time turtles spend in the water versus in the forest… with this El Nino year and low rainfall.. what would be their preferred habitat?

    Reply

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