Animal Behavior Animal Health

Snake-Necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis) at Crazy Critters Inc.

Snake-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) consists of 16 species of turtles belonging to the genera Chelodina and Macrochelodina in the family Chelidae, characterized by long necks that can bend and move in a serpentine fashion. Snake-necked turtles are a group of side-necked turtles with necks that range from nearly as long as to slightly longer than the shell. In fact, they inhabit the waterways of Australia and southern New Guinea and possess the longest neck of any group of turtles in the world. Because the neck is so long that it cannot be retracted completely beneath the margin of the shell. There are six species of turtles belonging to the genera Chelodina and Macrochelodina in family Chelidae,

All aquatic turtles are great swimmers

Rather than swim, these reptiles prefer to walk along the bottom of streams. The aquatic turtles are  carnivores  and prey on fish. When hunting the reptile holds its neck against its body. When prey is close, the neck and head lunge forward, and the animal opens its mouth and throat to create a vacuum. Water and prey are sucked into the mouth, which snaps shut. The mouth then opens slightly to allow water, but not the prey, to escape.

While all snake-necked turtles are egg layers. The northern snake-necked turtle(Macrochelodina rugosa), lays its eggs in nest chambers beneath the water. The embryos immediately  go into diapause  after the eggs are deposited.  While they resume development only when the nesting chamber dries. As a result, the eggs hatch 9 to 10 months after egg deposition just as the rainy season begins.

The common snake-necked turtle                  (Chelodina longicollis) is found from Queensland to South Australia.

The common snake-necked turtle prefers freshwater rivers, lakes, and swamps with soft sand and muddy bottoms. Seems like they feel more relaxed with plenty of plant cover above the water and submerged stumps and tree branches below. Because it is a  basking species , add a large branch that rises out from the water’s surface. Without a proper basking spot, turtles cannot dry themselves appropriately or shed their old shells. As a result, turtles can develop shell and skin problems, such as shell pyramiding. Turtles also easily get a fungus on the shell if they do not bask often enough.  Other reasons water turtles need to dry off is because leeches are a blood-sucking ectoparasite that can cause anemia in reptiles. Drying out in the sun causes the leeches to shrivel up and die. Algae on basking aquatic turtles can also dry out and fall off, allowing the shells to retain their aerodynamic nature.

Chelodina species, C. longicollis

The average lifespan of Chelodina longicollis ranges from  31 to 37 years.  The lifespan of wild and captive individuals appears to be approximately equal; however, very few have been held in captivity. While the snake-necked turtle reaches 10 inches in total shell length. Consequently, what makes this turtle unique is its neck is nearly as long as its  carapace . The common snake-necked turtle’s carapace is broad and flat, and it is typically dark brown to black in color. In contrast, the plastron is yellow with black lines following the seams.

Much as many aquatic turtles, common snake-necked turtles emit a foul-smelling liquid from their  musk glands  as a defense against predators. The smell is similar to that of a skunk, and it’s amazingly potent for such a small turtle. In fact, this obnoxious odor is no doubt an effective deterrent to a curious dingo or monitor. Most noteworthy, Snake-neck turtles often stop exuding this musk in captivity.

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Crazy Critters Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)3, Exotic Animal Rescue and Wildlife Education Facility located in Eustis, Florida. We provide permanent homes to over 150 animals including lizards, turtles, skinks, geckos, birds, and assorted wildlife. Crazy Critters Inc. was established to provide non-domestic, non-releasable animals with a safe and permanent home.

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