Turtles are pretty cute, but some are cuter than others. Today’s animal, the eastern long-necked turtle, or common snake-necked turtle, is a bit funny looking. Still, they are cute in their own way, just not as cute as some other turtles I’ve seen.
Common snake-necked turtles live in Australia, in the southeastern part of the country. They enjoy water, usually living in somewhat-stagnant waters, such as swamps or wetlands. These turtles generally hide out at the bottom of the waters they inhabit, coming to the surface to bask in the wonderful warmth of the sun. If they are unlucky enough to live in a pond or swamp that dries up, the turtles will look for a new home, or will burrow into forest floors to stay wet until conditions improve.
Long-necked turtles, of course, have long necks. But how long is long? Well, common snake-necked turtles don’t grow super large, reaching total lengths of 25 cm. So their necks are not too large in an absolute sense, but they are relatively long, being about 60% percent of the length of the turtles’ shells. The turtles are dark grey or brown, with a brown or black shell with fun, turtle-like patterns on it.
Snake-necked turtles are not picky eaters, eating fish, invertebrates, tadpoles, crustaceans and even carrion. They hunt by ambushing their prey, using their long necks to strike at their victims. Snake-necked turtles are also victims of predation, falling prey to red foxes, water rats, ravens, eagles, and dingos. When they are threatened, snake-necked turtles will emit a gross, smelly fluid from their musk glands. They will also snap at any predator that comes too close, though this doesn’t seem to be highly effective.
Mating in snake-necked turtles happens in spring, from September to October. Males win over females with a relatively simple display involving head bobbing and intimate touching. Females lay their eggs near water, and lay 8-24 eggs. These hatch in five months, from January to April. Hatchlings grow slowly, reaching sexual maturity between 7 and 12 years of age.
Eastern long-necked turtles are currently not threatened, though other species of long-necked turtles are. I guess if the word ‘common’ is in your name you should probably be fairly abundant. So well done, common snake-necked turtles!
Cover image by fir0002 flagstaffotos [at] gmail.com Canon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons