The coal turtle is a unique and rare species of amphibians. To date, many scientists are trying to explore it in more detail, but this turtle, as it turned out, is not so easy to find in the wild in order to determine its character and lifestyle in the wild. Coal turtles are also kept in reserves, where they are closely studied and assisted in breeding. Of course, captive breeding plays an important role in the conservation of this species. Let’s take a closer look at the life of such an amphibian as the coal turtle.
View origin and description
The coal turtle was first seen in South America. The process of the appearance of this species, as a separate one, is a rather ambiguous question. Let’s start from the very beginning. Absolutely all types of turtles were placed in a separate genus Testudo by such a Swedish naturalist as Carl Linnaeus. This happened in 1758.
Only 2 centuries later, in 1982, scientists Roger Boer and Charles Crumley separated the species of coal turtles from the rest and named it accordingly. The name, in their opinion, clearly reflected the habitat of these animals. They also differed from other relatives in the absence of an occipital shield and the presence of a tail. The appearance and the above factors helped scientists form the binary name Chelonoidis carbonaria, which is still relevant today.
Despite the fact that the coal turtle is listed as a separate species in its order, it does not differ much from its relatives. All species of these reptiles are similar to each other, so some of them can only be distinguished by specially trained people. The coal turtle has a strong shell that protects it from mechanical damage, short legs, a small head and a long neck. Its lifestyle is also quite similar to other turtles, but it also has its own characteristics, which we will discuss in the following sections.
Appearance and features
The coal turtle has its own characteristics and differences in comparison with other types of land reptiles. This is a fairly large turtle. The length of her shell can reach as much as 45 centimeters.
Interesting fact:according to some researchers, in old specimens, the length of the shell could reach as much as 70 centimeters.
The female is quite easy to distinguish from the male. It is smaller in size and has a small indentation on the ventral part of the protective sheath. It is also interesting to note that in different habitats turtles can differ both in size and in color. This factor makes it difficult for some researchers to accurately determine the type of reptile.
The color of the shell of the coal turtle has a gray-black color. It also has yellow-orange spots characteristic of these reptiles. In the appearance of this animal, there are colors such as red and bright orange. This color is present on the head and front paws of the animal. The eyes are painted black, but yellowish stripes can be seen around them.
The appearance of the coal turtle changes according to its age. In young individuals, the shell has brighter colors than in older ones. Over time, the shield of these reptiles turns black and only yellow spots can be seen on it.
Where does the coal turtle live?
As it became clear from the sections above, the coal turtle mainly lives in South America. This type of reptile loves when the air temperature fluctuates around 20-35 degrees Celsius. Also, from the observations of scientists, it was found that turtles prefer to settle in places with high humidity and a lot of precipitation. Explorers most often encounter them near rivers or lakes.
Interesting Fact: It is currently unknown how coal turtles appear in new habitats. Some argue that they are specially transported there, while others say that the species is gradually expanding its range.
Every year, coal turtles are found in various parts of South America. This fact makes it impossible to determine the exact geographical location of their habitat. At the very beginning, countries such as Panama, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and Guiana were considered their habitat. At the moment, news is coming in that coal turtles have been seen in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, scientists are reporting on new places of appearance of these reptiles. One of the latest news was the appearance of the species in the Caribbean.
What does the coal turtle eat?
Like most other reptiles, the coal turtle is a herbivore. Fruits make up the bulk of their diet. Often a reptile can be seen under a tree bearing fruit. So the turtles wait for the fruit to ripen and fall. Among fruits, their choice usually falls on fruits from cacti, figs, pechen, spondia, annonas, philodendrons, bromeliads.
The rest of the diet of coal turtles includes leaves, herbs, flowers, roots and shoots. From time to time, these reptiles also like to eat small invertebrates, such as ants, termites, beetles, butterflies, snails and worms.
The diet of this species depends directly on the season in the current period of time. In times of rain and high humidity, turtles try to find fruits for themselves, and in dry periods, flowers or plant shoots.
From the foregoing, we can conclude that the coal turtle is a completely omnivorous animal. They can eat almost any plants and fruits, but most often choose those that are higher in calcium and minerals. However, despite this fact, people who keep these animals in captivity adhere to some diet. They take plants as a basis and sometimes dilute their food with fruits.
Character and Lifestyle Features
The coal turtle is generally not a very social animal. You can even say that she leads a rather lazy lifestyle. For about half of the day, this species is dormant. The rest of the turtle’s time is spent looking for food and a new shelter. Note that in this case, the species does not have any competition with relatives. If the coal turtle sees that the place is already occupied by someone else, then it simply leaves to look for a new one.
The turtle does not live in one place and does not equip it in any way. After eating, it constantly moves, and after a new shelter is found, it spends up to 4 days in it, until the next meal.
Interesting fact: image of a coal turtle can be seen on a 2002 Argentine postage stamp.
Reptiles approach the choice of their “parking lot” very carefully. It should not differ much from their comfortable climate, but it should also protect them from external danger. As their resting place, coal turtles most often choose such locations as dead trees, shallow holes or secluded places between tree roots.
Social structure and reproduction
The Coal Turtle breeds all year round if habitat conditions are favorable. At the age of 4-5 years, the species reaches puberty and is ready to create its own offspring. If we talk about turtles in captivity, in their comfortable climate, then it should be noted that then they do not need to hibernate, therefore, the time increases to be able to create more clutches.
The mating ritual of the coal turtle proceeds as follows. Here the male is in charge of everything, it is he who chooses his future passion. But in order to achieve a place next to the female sex, males fight with other individuals of the same sex. In the fight for the female, the one who is stronger wins and turns the opponent onto the shell. Then the ritual continues by following the smell of his companion, which the male managed to sniff earlier. He follows her until she stops and is positive about mating.
The red-footed tortoise does not bother much with finding or building a nest. Most often, she chooses soft forest litter, where she lays from 5 to 15 eggs. Young turtles have to wait a long time — from 120 to 190 days. Surprisingly, the cubs have a special egg tooth, with which they break through the shell at the moment of birth, after which it itself disappears. They are born with flat and round carapaces with a yolk sac on their belly, from which they receive all the nutrients, thanks to which they can survive without food for the first time. Then it dissolves and on the 2-5th day of their life, the coal turtle babies begin to feed on their own.
Natural enemies of the coal turtle
Despite the fact that the turtle has its own “armor”, it has quite a few natural enemies. Some of them are birds of prey that lift reptiles to a great height, and then drop them to split their strong shell. After the operation, they peck them out of a damaged or split shell.
Mammals are also included in the list of natural enemies of the coal turtle. In our particular example, the jaguar that lives in South America can become a danger. He often scoops turtles out of their shells with his paws
From time to time, a coal turtle can be a good delicacy even for insects. Ants and small beetles can bite soft tissues on the body of a reptile that are not protected by a shell. Most often, weakened or sick individuals suffer from this type of attack.
Naturally, the main enemy of turtles is man. People kill an animal for its meat or eggs, make stuffed animals for themselves. Humans can, through their negligence, accidentally destroy the habitat of this species.
Species population and status
Not much can be said about the population of coal turtles. Their numbers in the wild are currently unknown, but based on the conservation status of the animal, we can only assume that everything is not as good as it should be in reality.
As we said above, coal turtles live in South America, but they are unevenly distributed in this territory. There is a favorable climate and humidity for this species, but there are also disadvantages of living in this metsa, which can affect the abundance of the species. We are talking about all sorts of disasters, such as hurricanes, which are quite common on such a continent.
Interesting fact: the coal turtle has another name – the red-footed turtle
Man builds factories and generally develops infrastructure. This fact may also prevent the increase in the population of coal turtles. Waste thrown by humans into water bodies near which reptiles live also negatively affects the reproduction of this species. People are trying to create excellent conditions for captive coal turtles, but this is not enough, because each species must also develop in its natural environment.
Conservation of the coal turtle
they are currently not available. It should also be said that this species was added by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to the International Red Book. In it, the reptile was given VU status, which means that the animal is currently in a vulnerable position.
Interesting fact:often species that have VU status breed well in captivity, but they still retain it. This is due to the fact that the threat exists specifically for the wild population of the species, as in our case.
Of course, coal turtles must be constantly monitored and measures taken to help preserve their habitat. Already now this species can be seen in many reserves in various parts of our planet. Despite this, people need to take action and allow these creatures to comfortably continue their offspring in the wild.
The coal turtle is an unusual species of reptile that needs our care and care . Their exact habitat is unknown, but we humans need to make every effort to allow this species to reproduce safely in any conditions. This turtle, like all other representatives of the fauna, is certainly important in nature. Let’s be vigilant and learn to take proper care of living beings around us!