Snake-necked turtle

(Chelodina longicollis)



The common snake-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) is found on the eastern side of Australia from Queensland to South Australia. The common snake-necked turtle prefers freshwater rivers, lakes and swamps with soft sand and muddy bottoms, and plenty of plant cover above, and aquatic plants, submerged stumps and tree branches below. It is a basking species, usually catching rays on a large branch that rises out from the water’s surface.

The average clutch of a snake-necked turtle will be between 3 and 10 eggs

Many turtle enthusiasts consider Macrochelodina parkeri to be the most beautiful of the snake-necked turtles.

Like other turtles, the common snake-necked turtle has muscular legs and webbed feet for swimming. It also uses its sharp claws for digging in the river bottom for food, digging nests and tearing apart larger prey gripped in its mouth.

Snake-necked turtle hatchlings can mature in 4 to 5 years

Chelodina longicollis likes to bask and can often be found on flat rocks and wood, soaking up the sun’s rays..

One of the smaller Chelodina species, C. longicollis reaches 10 inches in total shell length. Interestingly, its neck is nearly as long as its carapace when outstretched. The common snake-necked turtle’s carapace is broad and flat, and it is typically dark brown to black in color. The plastron is yellow with black lines following the seams, which differentiates it from most other snake-necks.

In nature, common snake-necked turtles mate in the Australian fall (May/June), and females will dig a nest hole in sandy soil along the riverbank in the late spring (September). The clutch will consist of three to 10 eggs, depending on the female’s age and size. After a two- to four-month incubation period in the warm sand, the eggs will hatch, and the small snake-necks will make a hasty dash for the safety of the water’s edge. There they hide among the plants and leaves and feed on aquatic insects, small fish, tadpoles and other small, aquatic prey.

Like 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. This obnoxious odor is no doubt an effective deterrent to a curious dingo or monitor. Luckily, snake-necks, and most other turtles, typically adapt to being handled and stop exuding this musk in captivity.


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