Eastern Snake-necked Turtle, Chelodina longicollis Click to enlarge image
A full body underside image of a swimming Snake-necked Turtle. Image: Gunther Schmida
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    longicollis
    Genus
    Chelodina
    Family
    Chelidae
    Subclass
    Testudinata
    Class
    Reptilia
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    26 cm

Introduction

The Eastern Snake-necked Turtle lives in freshwater environments and feeds on aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles and small fishes.

Identification

As its name suggests, this turtle has a long neck, which is usually about half the length of its carapace (shell). It has webbed feet used for swimming and digging. The colour of the carapace varies through shades of brown.

The terms turtle and tortoise are often used interchangeably and can cause some confusion. In the past, all freshwater turtles were called tortoises and marine turtles were called turtles. The more recent convention has been to restrict the term 'tortoise' to the purely land-dwelling species. As such, Australia has no tortoises.

Habitat

The Eastern Snake-necked Turtle lives in freshwater habitats including wetlands.

Distribution

The Eastern Snake-necked Turtle is found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, south-eastern South Australia.

Seasonality

Most of the Eastern Snake-necked Turtle's time is spent in the water, but it can make overland movements in search of new waterholes and nesting areas.

Feeding and diet

The Eastern Snake-necked Turtle feeds on aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles and small fishes.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Also known by another common name of 'stinker', the Eastern Snake-necked Turtle can eject pungent liquid gland secretions from its 'armpits' and groin when handled or disturbed.

Life history cycle

In summer, female Eastern Snake-necked Turtles dig holes in sand or in soft sediments along stream banks and lay about ten eggs.

Predators

The Eastern Snake-necked Turtle's eggs occasionally provide a meal for Water-rats and lizards. Hatchlings are eaten by fish and birds, and adults may be killed by cars while moving overland.