Friday, December 05, 2008

Turtle or Tortoise

The Eastern snake necked turtle or long necked tortoise (Chelodina longicollis) is a semi aquatic freshwater tortoise. It is distinguished from a marine turtle by distinct ankle joints and broadly webbed feet each with 4 or 5 claws.
I came across one near our upper dam the other day. First time I had ever seen one in our area.
The dam was almost dry so I guess he was off to look for a more suitable home. They have a reputation for travelling long distances over land.
They eat crustaceans, tadpoles, small fish and molluscs and find their food using their sight and their sense of smell.
To capture their prey they hold their neck sideways and then extend it, striking like a snake. They then swallow it whole, breaking up larger victims with the powerful claws on their front feet.
Their main predators are large birds, large fish and foxes.
To reproduce, the turtles lay about ten eggs each breeding season in early summer.
Obviously he was a a bit shy and hid well down in his shell so I didn't get to see his long neck.
And they can produce an awful smelling liquid when frightened or disturbed so didn't want to tempt fate too much.
But there are some great pictures on the net of this reptile and I have "stolen" one.
photo: © John Wombey
They are also apparently popular pets in Australia but I think I prefer to see them in the wild.

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