The broad-shelled turtle is among the largest turtle species in Australia and comes equipped with the longest neck of any turtle on Earth. This long neck often leads to the name of snake-necked turtle. It may account for as much as 80% of their total length.
On the back of the turtle is their shell. This can measure up to 48cm (19in) long.
The upperside of the shell (carapace) is colored olive brown or black. On the underside the shell (plastron) is colored white.
Sitting between the toes are webbing to help push them through the water with each toe having a small claw.
They have a narrow underside of their shell (plastron). This is not able to cover the legs, head and tail when they retract these in.
Females tend to be larger than males. She will weigh in at 5kg (11lbs) compared to 4kg (8lbs) for the males. Their body measures a total of 80cm (31.5in) long with the neck outstretched.
The broad-shelled turtle is a carnivore. They will feed on fish and shrimp.
Their long neck is able to be pushed out quickly to help them ambush prey.
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Australia is the native home of the broad-shelled turtle. Here they live through the Murray-Darling river system. This range covers the states of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. Populations also occur in coastal basins in southern Queensland and on Fraser Island.
These animals spend much of their time in the water rarely emerging on to the land. They can be found close to water normally in wetlands.
Nesting takes place from Autumn to winter.
The female will excavate a nest away from the water where they can deposit between 10 and 20 eggs which have a hard shell. These are then buried before she will return to the water.
These eggs can hold off on hatching until conditions outside are favorable. This is primarily after rain which will soften the soil and help them to dig their way out of the soil.
The development of the eggs can be arrested and this can increase the incubation period up to a year long.
Once the young turtles hatch they will make their way straight to the water.
The broad-shelled turtle will spend much of its time in the water rarely emerging to bask.
These animals regularly groom themselves. This involves biting and scratching their skin to remove bits of dead skin.
Predators and Threats
Occasionally these animals become caught in a trap and this will result in them drowning.
These animals are also known as the broad-shelled snake-necked turtle.
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Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press. Aqua.org. 2021. National Aquarium – Baltimore, MD. [online] Available at: <https://aqua.org/explore/animals/broad-shelled-turtle> [Accessed 31 March 2021].
Qm.qld.gov.au. 2021. December 2016 – Queensland Museum. [online] Available at: <https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Explore/Find+out+about/Ask+an+Expert/Question+of+the+month/Question+Archive/Questions/2016/December+2016> [Accessed 31 March 2021].
Turtlesat.org.au. 2021. TurtleSAT Community Program > Broad Shelled Turtle. [online] Available at: <https://turtlesat.org.au/turtlesat/pagecontent.aspx?page=turtle_broadshelledturtle> [Accessed 2 April 2021].
NSW, T., 2021. Broad Shelled Turtle | Turtles NSW. [online] Pnc.com.au. Available at: <http://www.pnc.com.au/~turtles/broad_shelled_turtle.html> [Accessed 2 April 2021].
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