Eastern Long-Necked Turtle
Snake-necked turtle, Australian snake-necked turtle, Eastern snake-necked turtle, Stinker
This medium-sized turtle has oval-shaped, black to light brown colored carapace with a shallow groove on its center. Dark junctures run across cream colored plastron. The long and narrow neck is brown to gray dorsally and yellow - ventrally. The Eastern long-necked turtle has a small and pointed head. The coloration of the limbs varies from dark grey to brown. The turtles display sexual dimorphism with males, having thicker, longer tails and the inward curved plastron. Meanwhile, females are larger, identified by deeper shells and concealed tail, which is shorter and fatter, than that of males. Young turtles are usually black to dark gray in color, and their plastron is covered with orange spots. In addition, they have an orange band, running down both sides of their neck and jaw.
The natural habitat of the Eastern long-necked turtle is a slow-moving water body. The species inhabit wetland and swampy areas as well as streams and rivers. The area of their distribution mainly includes south-eastern Australia, west of Adelaide to Victoria and New South Wales and north to the Fitzroy River of Queensland.
Habits and lifestyle
These animals can change their habitat if necessary, travelling long distances in search of a suitable habitat. The Eastern long-necked turtles are solitary animals and move independently, though sometimes many individuals can be found living in the same area. This turtle is cold-blooded, diurnal animal. Their activity depends on the external temperature. Thus, they are inactive in the early morning, basking in the sun to warm up and increase their body temperature. They are most active in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, escaping from the sun to a shelter during the noon. The Eastern long-necked turtles use touching and release of pheromones as forms of communication.
bale, nest, turn, dole, creep
Diet and nutrition
The Eastern long-necked turtles are carnivorous animals, feeding upon fish, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, worms and insects.
These turtles have a polygynous mating system, where a male can mate with many females. The breeding season takes place during the autumn months, from September to October, while the nesting period is October-December. Their nesting sites are situated nearby water. Usually, the female lays 8-24 eggs, which have a form of ellipse and are hard-shelled. The eggs are incubated for 120-150 days, after which, between January and late April, the young hatch out. The newly hatched turtles are fully independent, receiving no parental care from their mother, who looks forward to breed again, if the conditions are favorable. It takes quite long the Eastern long-necked turtles to become sexually mature. Typically, males are mature at 7-8 years old, whereas female turtles reach maturity at 10-12 years old.
These turtles currently suffer from hunting by indigenous people of Australia, who feed upon their meat. They are also hunted by their natural predators such as invasive red foxes. And finally, the animals are threatened by environmental and climatic changes.
The exact number of their overall population is presently unknown, but the species is fairly widespread, found in large numbers throughout the area of their habitat. On the IUCN Red List, the Eastern long-necked turtle is classified as Least Concern.
Due to feeding upon aquatic organisms, the turtles control the numbers of these species’ populations throughout the area of their habitat.
Fun facts for kids
- These turtles are sometimes in jest called "stinkers" due releasing smelly protective substances through their musk glands. The animals usually give off these protective substances if frightened, especially when people touch them.
- The Eastern long-necked turtles get food by either foraging or using so-called ‘sit-and-wait’ technique. They often lie in a hidden place at the bottom of a water body, watching for a prey. And when it appears, they strike out at prey, opening their mouth and sucking it in.
- When preying, the long neck of this turtle comes out of its shell sideways, striking at prey.
- The long-necked turtles live both in the wild and in captivity. As household pets, the turtles adopt to the captive environment in a short time. Moreover, they are known to be easily tamed, taking food right from their owner's hands.
- These turtles are good swimmers due to their large web. Also, they have strong claws on their front feet.