Turtles that move in herds reveal the complex social lives of reptiles

A captive population of hicatee turtles at the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education

Donald McKnight

In the rivers and creeks of Belize, turtles swim together in armoured squads. The turtles are the first known to casually group together, rather than socialising to reproduce or feed. The findings add to an emerging understanding of the true complexity of reptilian social lives.

Central American river turtles (Dermatemys mawii) – known in Belize as ‘hicatees’ – live in the river systems of parts of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. They are totally aquatic, never …

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