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Australian Snapping Turtle

Australian snapping turtle
Photo: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey
BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

Other Names: Saw-shelled Turtles  Elseya spp.

  • This genus of this turtle has at least seven species (Cogger 2000).

  • These turtles look and behave much like their close relatives the 'Australian river turtles' in the genus Emydura.

  • Like those, they have moderately short necks with largish heads.

  • Also like the river turtles, they are found in creeks and lagoons in Australia and New Guinea.

  • Here, they can often be seen basking on logs and the sides of waterways; if disturbed, they drop into the nearby water with a splash and disappear.

  • For many observers, this is the only evidence that they are around.

  • However unlike the Emydura, they get a little bigger, with some developing a carapace length of 45 centimetres (Cann et al 2000).

  • They also often develop a hard horny head and have much more obvious tubercles on the neck (Cogger 2000).

  • They also lack the pale stripe on their face that is present in the Emydura species.

  • 'Saw-shelled turtles' are also called 'Snapping turtles' in Australia.

  • However, they are not related to the 'snapping turtles' of the Americas that bite much more readily and can often be much bigger.

  • Australian 'snappers' are usually quite shy and would only resort to biting if handled.

  • They are also called 'saw-shelled turtles' because many individuals have serrated edges to the carapace, especially when younger.

  • They can sometimes be seen in the bigger fresh waterways, such as at Mossman river, basking on the rocks in the morning.

Script: Courtesy of  Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

Additional Australian Snapping Turtle PhotoAdditional Australian Snapping Turtle Photo 2


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Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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