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Australian

Snake-necked

Turtle


Photo from:
Australian Freshwater Turtles by John Cann, from Beaumont Publishing, 1998. This beautiful book has plenty of information and pictures on this species and the other fascinating turtles of Australia. E-mail: [email protected]


(photo used under "fair use" rules,
for educational purposes only)

Called the Australian snake-necked turtle, common snake-necked turtle, or Eastern Long Neck Tortoise, it's scientific name is Chelodina longicollis. This side-necked turtle is one of several species that is characterized by its extremely long neck, almost as long as the rest of its body.

Habitat: Snake-necked turtles come from Eastern Australia, ranging from the tropical north to the temperate south. They live in slow moving rivers, swamps and ponds. They prefer a soft sandy substrate, and will pull out to bask on logs and rocks.

Description: Chelodina longicollis have a smooth, oval shaped carapace that is rather flat, and often have a slight longitudinal depression the length of the carapace. The carapace is brown, black or dark green. The plastron, bridge and marginal scutes are cream with dark-brown or black seam markings. While specimens with 10" straight carapace length have been seen, most remain under 8". The characteristic long neck is nearly as long as the carapace. Wild C. longicollis emit a foul smelling fluid from the musk glands when captured, but captives do not tend to do this.

Captive care: The common snake-necked turtle can be cared for in captivity in a large aquarium with a basking area and light. Temperature should be maintained at 72-76 degrees F. You might consider using sphagnum moss and letting some of it extend into the water. There is some evidence that these turtles do better, and avoid some common skin problems, if the water pH is kept low, approximately 6.5, and sphagnum moss or peat will lower the pH. Some owners add a small amount of tea to lower the pH. In warm to temperate regions, C. longicollis would appreciate an outdoor sunny pond enclosure with some protective vegetation.

Diet: Snake-necks are entirely carnivorous in the wild, eating a variety of molluscs, small fish, amphibians, worms and insects. In captivity, they can do well on with live food (worms, crickets, feeder fish, snails, etc.), dog food and trout chow. Additional calcium should be added. Many turtles will eagerly gnaw on cuttlebone, which supplies an excellent source of calcium.

More photos and information on the internet:
WCT website: Australian Snake-necked Turtle
Australian Capital Territory Herpetological Association Website
Australian Freshwater Turtle Research Page
CTTC: Chelodina longicollis



sources:

Bartlett, R. D. & Bartlett, Patricia P. 1996. Turtles and Tortoises: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Barron's Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY.

Cann, John. 1998. Australian Freshwater Turtles. Beaumont Publishing Pte Ltd., Singapore

Ernst, C. H. and Barbour, R. W. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Highfield, A. C. 1996. Practical Encyclopedia of Keeping and Breeding Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Carapace Press, London, England.

Iverson, John. 1992. A revised checklist with distribution maps of the turtles of the world. Privately published, Richmond, Indiana.

Iverson, Kiester, Hughes, Kimerling & Sahr. 1998. Turtles of the World website.

Pritchard, P. C. H. 1979. Encyclopedia of Turtles. TFH Publications, Neptune, New Jersey.e

 

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