The reptile fauna of the Konashen COCA includes lizards, snakes, turtles, and caiman. Thirty-six reptile species were recorded during a recent biological survey of the COCA, but there are certainly more species present in the area. The highest numbers of reptiles were found in the Acarai Mountains and the flooded forests near the Kamoa and Sipu rivers.
IN DEPTH: Follow our herpetology team into the Konashen.
Reptile species are highly beneficial for the forest ecosystem and surrounding areas since they control rodent and insect populations. Populations of reptiles, such as turtles and caiman, that are part of the Wai Wai diet should be monitored to make sure that local reptile biodiversity is maintained.
Harlequin racerunners (Plica plica), also known as Wakanama, are common, arboreal lizards which can be seen basking on tree trunks during the day. Since their coloration resembles moss-covered bark, they may be difficult to spot when sitting motionlessly. These reptiles are extremely agile and can run with a great speed if frightened. They feed on insects and other small organisms.
Schnieder’s dwarf caiman
Schnieder’s dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus), also known as Watwa, occurs in shallow forest streams, but adults often spend much of their time in burrows away from water, traveling overland between burrows and water to forage. Their diet includes more terrestrial animals, such as rodents, than in other species of caimans.
This species is still common in Guyana, but hunting for food, tourism, and the pet trade has reduced its populations in some places.
Yellow-footed tortoises (Geochelone denticulata), also known as Wayamu, like to build their nests in the dense rain forest or in the tropical lowlands. Since they are too slow to capture fast animals, their diet consists of grasses, fallen fruit, carrion, plants, bones, mushrooms, excrement, and slow-moving animals such as snails and worms.
On average, a female will lay between 6–16 brittle-shelled eggs per year. Larger females produce a higher quantity of eggs and also lay larger eggs. The young are self-sufficient from birth. The Yellow-footed Tortoise reaches maturity in between 8–10 years and can live for approximately 50–60 years. This species is considered threatened because it is heavily hunted for food and is sold in the international pet trade.
Emerald boas (Corallus caninus), also known as Aaro, are large, arboreal snakes, often found coiled on branches along river banks. These snakes are not venomous, but can bite if cornered. They feed primarily on birds, which they kill by strangulation.
Boas have poor vision, and detect their prey by using heat-sensitive pits along their upper lips. Despite their aggressive nature, Emerald boas are popular pets, and their populations have been reduced in certain places by over-collecting.