Central American snapping turtle
Chelydra rossignonii.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Chelydridae
Genus: Chelydra
C. rossignonii
Binomial name
Chelydra rossignonii
  • Emysaurus rossignonii
    Bocourt, 1868
  • Chelydra serpentina var. mexicana
    Cope, 1870
    (nomen nudum)
  • Chelydra rossignonii
    — Cope, 1872
  • Chelydra rossignoni [sic]
    Günther, 1885
    (ex errore)
  • Chelydra serpentina rossignoni
    Mertens, L. Müller & Rust, 1934
  • Chelydra serpentina rossignonii
    — Mertens & Wermuth, 1955
  • Chelydra rossignonii
    — Bonin, Devaux & Dupré, 2006

The Central American snapping turtle (Chelydra rossignonii),[2] also known commonly as the Mexican snapping turtle[6] and the Yucatan snapping turtle,[6] is a species of turtle in the family Chelydridae.[2] The species is endemic to Central America and Mexico.


This species, Chelydra rossignonii, was previously considered a subspecies of Chelydra serpentina.[3] It became a full species after scientists noticed some genetic differences and differences in the morphology of the two species' skulls.[1]


The specific name, rossignonii, is in honor of French-born coffee grower Jules Rossignon.[6]


There are no recognized subspecies of C. rossignonii.[2][3]


C. rossignonii has a big head, lengthy tail, pointed snout, and a coarse carapace with three easily seen ridges. Its carapace comes in different colors, such as brown to olive or olive to black, while its small plastron can be either cream to yellow or tan to gray. This turtle's shell sometimes also has algae growing on it, which helps it to camouflage.[7] The skin is either gray or black all over on adults, while juveniles have white speckles on their skin; the skin is also covered in long tubercles near the turtle's neck area.

Distribution and habitat

C. rossignonii is found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.[2] The natural habitats of C. rossignonii are slow-moving freshwater rivers, swamps, tributaries, and wetlands.[1][5] It prefers murky water with large amounts of vegetation, and stays away from open water.[1]

Ecology and behavior

C. rossignonii is oviparous.[5] It is also solitary and nocturnal. The species is believed to be mostly aquatic, rarely going on land or basking in open spaces.[7]


The Central American snapping turtle hunts by luring its prey with four to six barbels around the mouth.[7] It is believed to be an omnivore that forages for an assortment of prey, including crabs, frogs, fish, shrimp, and plant material.[1]


In the last 30 years, C. rossignonii experienced a 30% population decline. It is threatened by habitat loss and overharvesting for food. Although it is protected by the law in Mexico and Guatemala, these laws are not enforced evenly and this turtle is still being exploited.[1] A captive breeding program has been established in order to help the species gain population.


  1. ^ a b c d e f van Dijk PP, Lee J, Calderón Mandujano R, Flores-Villela O, Lopez-Luna MA, Vogt RC (2007). "Chelydra rossignonii (errata version published in 2016)". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T63660A97408221. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2007.RLTS.T63660A12704652.en. Downloaded on 22 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rhodin et al. 2010, pp. 000.91–000.92
  3. ^ a b c Fritz & Havaš 2007, p. 171
  4. ^ Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World" (PDF). Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 171. ISSN 1864-5755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-01. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Species Chelydra rossignonii at The Reptile Database www.reptile-database.org.
  6. ^ a b c Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Chelydra rossignoni, p. 226).
  7. ^ a b c Pritchard, Peter C. H.; Ernst, Carl H.; Barbour, Roger W. (1990-06-27). "Turtles of the World". Copeia. 1990 (2): 602. doi:10.2307/1446379. ISSN 0045-8511. JSTOR 1446379.

Further reading