Rhinoclemmys rubida

(Cope, 1870)
Mexican spotted wood turtle

This medium-sized (to 23 cm), terrestrial turtle has an irregular horseshoe-shaped blotch on top of its head. Its carapace is flattened, medially keeled, posteriorly serrated, widest and highest just behind the middle, and has a rugose surface due to growth annuli. The carapace is yellowish brown with dark seams and dark mottling on each scute to uniform chocolate brown. A yellow spot is usually present at the center of each vertebral and pleural. The well-developed plastron is slightly upturned anteriorly, notched posteriorly, and has the following formula: abd > pect > an > gul > fem > hum. It is yellow with a brown central blotch and brown bridge. The head is moderate in size with a projecting snout and a hooked upper jaw. A highly variable, broad, horseshoe-shaped red or yellow mark lies on the crown, and usually several light bars cross the snout. A light stripe passes between the orbit and tympanum and another from the corner of the mouth to the tympanum. The yellow jaws and chin contain dark vermiculations or stipples. Its forelimbs are covered with large yellow or reddish black-spotted scales. The toes are only slightly webbed at best.
Males have concave plastra, longer, thicker tails, and the vent beyond the carapacial margin; females have flat plastra, shorter tails, and vents beneath the carapace.

Rhinoclemmys rubida is restricted to the lowlands of the west coast of Mexico from Jalisco southward through Michoacán, and from Oaxaca southward through western Chiapas. Although it has not been collected in Guerrero, it probably occurs there.

Geographic Variation
Two subspecies are recognized. Rhinoclemmys rubida rubida (Cope, 1870), the Oaxaca wood turtle, ranges from central Oaxaca to southern Chiapas. Its carapace is light brown with dark mottling, the gular scutes are approximately twice as long as the humerals, the marginals are slightly flared laterally, and it has an elongated light temporal spot. R. r. perixantha (Mosimann and Rabb, 1953), the Colima wood turtle, occurs in southern Jalisco, Colima, and Michoacán. It has light-brown marginals without dark mottling, and pleural scutes darker brown than the vertebrals and marginals. Its gular scutes are only slightly longer than the humerals, and the marginals are strongly flared laterally. An oval temporal spot is present.

Scrub lowland woodlands and hillsides are the typical habitat.

Natural History
During courtship, the male often bobs his head. The white eggs are elongated (62 x 25 mm) and the hatchlings are 50-52 mm in carapace length.
One was caught while eating a large caterpillar, but captives also eat plant foods.

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Vulnerable (B1+2c).