Guatemala has more than 133 species of amphibian creatures. Of these numbers, 40 of these amphibian species exist in no other country and 74 of these species are threatened of endangerment from extinction. With water recreation and the allure for waterfront homes, wetlands are vanishing rapidly even with proper laws in place to protect them.
The pictures on this page direct you to different amphibious animals around Rio Dulce that I have seen to this point.
To navigate this site you simply click on a picture to take you to more information on that specific animal or a different picture of it.
Scorpion Mud Turtle(Kinosternon scorpioides)
Jicote to the locals, It's common to see these little guys basking in the sun on a log or fallen branch in the wetland areas. They are herbivors and lay about three eggs about one to four times a season.
Cane Toad(Bufo marinus)
Any night on the river you have undoubtedly been overwhelmed by the chorus of these creatures! The loudest of all calls are the local Cane Toads here, they are the largest of the frogs and toads here with big black eyes. They have been introduced around the world as a pest control because they eat various insect and rodent pests in various crops. For that matter, they will feed on any organism available! Unfortunately, it preys on and competes with other native amphibians for food and breeding habitat.
CAUTION: When this species is threatened or handled, it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from its large parotoid glands at the back of its head, behind the ears. This secretion can burn your eyes, may irritate your skin, and can kill cats and dogs if they ingest the secretion.
Symptoms of giant toad poisoning in pets include drooling,
head-shaking, crying, loss of coordination, and, in more serious cases,
convulsions. The dog's (or cat's) gums often turn red, an indicator
used by veterinarians to distinguish toad poisoning from epilepsy.
For this reason, pet owners should be familiar with their pet's normal
gum color. Treatment: If you suspect toad poisoning, get a
hose and run water in the side of the dog's/cat's mouth, pointing
the animal's head downward so water isn't swallowed. Rub the gums
and mouth to remove the toxin. This treatment is usually successful.
In the Popol Vuh a toad is one of the messengers of the gods of Xibalba. The message starts in the belly of a louse, which is swallowed by a toad. The toad is swallowed by a snake. The snake is picked up by a falcon or hawk and delivers the message of the gods to the Hero Twins.
The chemical that the bufo emits is bufotenine and has been outlawed for human consumption since the 1960's but is still known to be used as a halucinogen. But in the Colonial period, friar Thomas Gage recorded that the Pokoman Maya soaked the toad in their drinks—one might assume to get some of the essence. Archaeologists have found plenty of toad skeletons when they excavated Olmec sites (Michael Coe). So there is abundant evidence that the early people in Mesoamerica used toads in their rituals.
We do not know whether the purpose was to poison people, drug sacrificial victims or to induce hallucinations. Remember, the essence exuded by the toad is poisonous, but there are some tribes in South America that have used other natural chemicals to counteract the deadly reactions.
These little guys are unusual in that they seem to have an almost dinasaur-looking row of sharp looking points going up along their sides.
Manati(T. m. manatus)
(Tek) Antillean Manatee or Caribbean Manatee is the species here.The Mayans regarded the manatee both for its fine meat and the supernatural powers that it was believed to possess. The earbone of a manatee was especially prized; hung around the neck by a cord to protect the wearer from all evil powers. As you may guess the manatee is a close relative of the elephant. This enormous sea mammal lives in shallow coastal waters and rivers in the southeast United States, here in the Rio Dulce area to northeast South America, and the Caribbean. Because its favored foods, sea grasses and other marine plants, are relatively low in nutrients, an adult must eat considerable quantities every day. The West Indian manatee is still hunted in places for its meat and hide, but the species most common threat is by injury and death from powerboat propellers, water pollution, and habitat destruction. There is a manatee preserve "El Biotopo Chocon" on the Golfete that has a small museum. The entry fee is a minimal cost and can be reached via the launcheros at Poerto Fronteras.
Painted Turtles(Trachemys scripta elegans)
Also known as the Red-eared Slider. This little jewel weighed in at 14 pounds. It was found wandering down the street before someone rescued it and brought it here to turn loose in our swamp.
Sliders are cold-blooded and spend hours sunning themselves on rocks and logs. If there are not enough rocks or logs for all of them they will often stack themselves one on top of the other! They bury themselves in loose soil or mud during the winter to escape the cold. When population numbers get high, these turtles move across land to other bodies of water in search of food and space. They eat aquatic plants, small fish, and decaying material.
A turtle's shell is actually made up of its ribs joined together and covered with a thin layer of skin. Each of the ribs is made of jigsaw-like sections called scutes, which grow at the edges. This allows the turtle to increase in size without outgrowing its shell. Mature males have long toenails on their front feet that they use when courting females. The males swim backwards in front of females and fan water over their faces.
Sliders have poor hearing but are very sensitive to vibrations. This makes it hard to sneak up on them. Their name, slider, comes from the fact that they are quick to slide off of rocks, logs or the banks if danger threatens.
In Mayan mythology, it is said that if a turtle appears in your path during a drought it is a sign of impending rain because the turtle is also seeking water. It is also believed that the shell of the turtle is a map of the universe.
For the Maya the turtle was associated with water and with the earth. Not only are turtles found in aquatic habitats but their shells seem to have been associated with thunder because of their use as components of musical instruments such as drums. An image in the Codex Borgia depicts a turtle playing a drum.
The Atlaslike Maya deity (Pauahtun) who supported the world on his shoulders is sometimes depicted wearing a turtle shell on his head. Turtles shells are also associated with altars in some contexts, and the Maize God is sometimes shown emerging from a turtle shell.
Red Eyed Tree Frog(Agalychnis callidryas)
(Rana Calzonudo, Gaudy Leaf Frog) Chances are good, that you will not see any of these as they are endangered. Adults live in the tree canopies when not breeding and often spend the daytime hours in bromiliads or plastered to a green leaf. A male gives a single-noted cluck from trees or vegetation overhanging temporary pools until a female approaches him. They go into amplexus with the female carrying the male on her back. She then climbs down to the pool and fills yer bladder by absorbtion through the skin. The pair then moves back up into the vegetation, where the female chooses a leaf to deposit her eggs and then the male fertilizes them. The female, with the male still on her back, climbs back down to the water, refills yer bladder, and repeats the process. A female May lay three to five clutches of eggs IN ONE NIGHT!
Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus fuscus)
Now you don't see a lot of these around because they are good to eat and make nice bags, but in some areas it is worth keeping your eyes open.The one in the link picture wanted to make a snack out of my hand so he had to settle for a duct tape muzzle.
Fiddler Crabs(Uca pugnax)
The Fiddler crab consists of approximately 97 species of semi terrestrial marine crabs within the genus Uca, and belonging to the family Ocypodidae. These two inch creatures find their home in mangroves, salt marshes, and sandy or muddy beaches. The picture at the top of the page is a male with one oversized pincher to attract females, the one on the left is the female. I guess even crabs think size matters.
The same scenario as above goes for these creatures.