The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in the central region of Africa. It is comprised of an area of 905,355 square miles with a tropical climate. The country is covered with rainforest, mountains, grasslands, and plateaus. Due to its geographic diversity, a number of plants and animal species can be found here. This article takes a look at the reptile species of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Reptiles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
West African Mud Turtle
The West African mud turtle is endemic to western and central Africa. It prefers habitats with fresh waters such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and swamps. During dry season, the West African mud turtle digs underground in order to remain cool and not become overheated. This turtle species grows between 7 and 11 inches and is dark brown in color. It has semi-webbed feet and light yellow patterned, flat heads. Its diet consists of small fish, insects, snails, and floating water lettuce. Interestingly, this turtle is a temperature-dependent sex determination species. This means that once the egg is laid, the temperature of its surroundings decides if the turtle will be male or female. Due to its wide range and stable population size, this species is not considered vulnerable.
African Dwarf Mud Turtle
The African dwarf mud turtle is endemic to the warm, moist, Sub-Saharan regions of the African continent, and lives in Angola, Malawi, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It can grow up to 4.7 inches, making it the smallest turtle in its genus. It can be identified by its flattened, oval shell of dark green color. Additionally, this species has bright yellow skin. The African dwarf mud turtle prefers to inhabit wet grasslands. In captivity, the female has been known to lay fertilized eggs 10 months after contact with a male. This suggests the ability to store sperm. It was once considered a subspecies of the Pelusios adansonii, but the two have since been confirmed as separate species.
Dwarf Sand Snake
The dwarf sand snake is common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa covering a range of 7 countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It reaches lengths of between approximately 12 and 20 inches and is relatively slender compared to other snakes. It can be identified by its grey to brown coloring and a dark brown stripe running down its back. Its underbelly is of a pale yellow color. This species lives in dry, wooded savannas and eats lizards and frogs. Females lay 3 to 5 eggs during nesting season.
For more reptiles that can be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have a look at the chart appended below.
Environmental Threats and Conservation Efforts
Reptiles and other animals are threatened in this country because of post-conflict devastation, continuous population growth, and deforestation. The population growth leads to the need for increased development projects which, in turn, results in contamination and demand for lumber. In addition, a larger percentage of the population relies on agriculture for survival and participates in mass burning of forests in order to clear land for agricultural purposes. The mining industry also contributes to heavy metal pollution in the waterways and climate change has lead to increased instances of drought. Currently, around 51 million residents are without water access. These activities are threatening the habitats of the previously mentioned reptiles and other plant and animal species. Studies have indicated that the country is losing plant and animal species at a rapid rate.