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Hydromedusa maximiliani, 026

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Hydromedusa maximiliani (Mikan 1825) –
Maximilian’s Snake-Necked Turtle, Brazilian Snake-Necked Turtle

Franco L. Souza1 and Fernando I. Martins2

1Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde,
Departamento de Biologia, 79070-900 Campo Grande, MS, Brasil [[email protected]];
2Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul,
Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde, 79070-900 Campo Grande, MS, Brasil [[email protected]]


Summary. – Maximilian’s snake-necked turtle, Hydromedusa maximiliani (Family Chelidae), is a small freshwater turtle endemic to eastern and southeastern Brazil with a distribution associated with Atlantic rain forest mountainous regions. The species inhabits streams with clear, cold water and sandy or rocky bottoms within the primary forest above 600 m elevation. The species is common in some areas but human induced threats associated with demographic factors may have a negative impact on H. maximiliani populations inhabiting regions not encompassed by protected areas.

Distribution. – Brazil. Restricted to eastern and southeastern coastal mountainous regions, including southern Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo.

Synonymy. – Emys maximiliani Mikan 1825, Chelodina maximiliani, Hydromedusa maximiliani, Hydraspis maximiliani, Chelodina flavilabris Duméril and Bibron 1835, Hydromedusa flavilabris, Hydromedusa subdepressa Gray 1854, Hydromedusa depressa Gray 1856, Hydromedusa bankae Giebel 1866.

Subspecies . – None recognized. Eastern populations have been genetically identified as a probable evolutionarily significant unit.

Status. – IUCN 2008 Red List: Vulnerable (VU B1+2cd) (assessed 1996, needs updating); CITES: Not Listed; Brazil: Listed regionally in São Paulo (Vulnerable ), Minas Gerais (Vulnerable), and Espírito Santo (Vulnerable). 



Souza, F.L. and Martins, F.I. 2009. Hydromedusa maximiliani (Mikan 1825) – Maximilian’s snake-necked turtle, Brazilian snake-necked turtle. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 026.1-026.6, doi:10.3854/crm.5.026.maximiliani.v1.2009, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.


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Adult female Hydromedusa maximiliani, Parque Estadual Carlos Botelho, São Paulo State, southeastern Brazil, July 2006.
Photo by Franco L. Souza.


Distribution of Hydromedusa maximiliani in southeastern Brazil in South America. Red points = museum and literature occurrence records based on Iverson (1992) plus more recent and authors’ data; green shading =  projected distribution based on GIS-defined hydrologic unit compartments (HUCs) constructed around verified localities and then adding HUCs that connect known point localities in the same watershed or physiographic region, and similar habitats and elevations as verified HUCs (Buhlmann et al., unpubl. data), and adjusted based on authors’ data.