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Rhinemys rufipes, 079

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Rhinemys rufipes (Spix 1824) –
Red Side-necked Turtle, Red-footed Sideneck Turtle, Perema

William E. Magnusson1 and Richard C. Vogt1

1Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia / Coordenação da Biodiversidade,
Caixa Postal 2223, Petropolis, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil 69080-971 [[email protected], [email protected]]


Summary. – Rhinemys rufipes is a small colorful reddish side-neck turtle (Family Chelidae) restricted to small shallow black-water closed-canopy streams in forested regions of the upper Amazon River Basin in Brazil and Colombia. Females reach a carapace length (CL) of about 256 mm, maturing at about 195 mm CL; males are slightly smaller at about 230 mm CL. Clutch size varies from 3 to 12 eggs, but natural nesting in the wild has never been recorded. Although once considered uncommon, the species is perhaps much more abundant than museum records indicate, since it is a secretive nocturnal species rarely seen, and does not occur in larger rivers. Extensive trapping in small streams in the Amazon Basin may show this species to be one of the most abundant turtles in South America. Many Brazilian forest reserves are located in regions that may have high densities of the species. The only potential threats for this species at present are development and agriculture pressures leading to forest destruction and degradation.

Distribution. – Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela (?). Known only from parts of the upper northwestern Amazon Basin in Colombia and Brazil in the states of Amazonas and Pará. May also occur in southern Venezuela.

Synonymy. – Emys rufipes Spix 1824, Hydraspis rufipes, Rhinemys rufipes, Chelys (Hydraspis) rufipes, Chelys rufipes, Platemys rufipes, Phrynops rufipes.

Subspecies. – None currently recognized.

Status. – IUCN 2014 Red List: Near Threatened (NT, assessed 1996); TFTSG Draft Red List: Least Concern (LC, assessed 2011); CITES: Not Listed.



Magnusson, W.E. and Vogt, R.C. 2014. Rhinemys rufipes (Spix 1824) – Red Side-necked Turtle, Red-footed Sideneck Turtle, Perema. 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 5(7):079.1–7, doi:10.3854/crm.5.079.rufipes.v1.2014, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Adult male (left) and female (right) Rhinemys rufipes from Reserva Ducke, Amazonas, Brazil.
Photo by Richard C. Vogt.



Distribution of Rhinemys rufipes in the Amazon Basin of northern South America, including Brazil, Colombia, and possibly Venezuela. Purple lines = boundaries delimiting major watersheds (level 3 hydrologic unit compartments – HUCs); red dots = museum and literature occurrence records of native populations based on Iverson (1992) plus more recent and authors’ data; green shading = projected native distribution based on GIS-defined 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. 2009; TTWG 2014), and adjusted based on authors’ subsequent data.