Oblong Turtle Atlanta Veld

Oblong Turtle

Chelodina oblonga | Chelodina colliei

Did You Know?

  • They can live as long as some humans for 80 years or more
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The Oblong turtle (Chelodina oblonga) occurs in Northern WA and the Northern Territory. This species is also known as Southwestern snaked-neck turtle (Chelodina colliei) in southwest Western Australia.

The original specimen collected and given the name Chelodina oblonga is now thought to be from a species of long necked turtle found in northern WA and the Northern Territory, the Northern Long-necked turtle (Macrochelodina rugosa). The first specimen of the oblong turtle seen in southwest WA was originally classified as Chelodina colliei.

The carapace (upper shell) ranges in color from light brown to black. The olive to gray neck is thick, with blunt rounded tubercles. The head is large and flat with a protruding snout and an unnotched upper jaw.

Size

Adult Shell 30 - 40 cm long.

Behaviour

Diet

Fish and tadpoles, aquatic invertebrates, and baby waterbirds.

Movement

When prey is in range the Oblong turtle can strike its head forward to seize it.

Breeding

Males become sexually mature at a carpace length of 14 cm. Females with a carpace of 15 - 21 cms are usually mature. Nest sites are usually open and free from thick vegetation, and once the maximum daily air temperature remains above 17.5°C the females come ashore to nest. Nesting in Spring is triggered by a falling trend in barometric pressure below 1015Hpa. Females can lay up to three clutches during the nesting season from September to January. Each clutch ranges from 3 -15 eggs The natural incubation period ranges from 183 to 222 days, depending on weather conditions. Hatchlings are approximately 31 mm in carapace length.

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What to Observe

  • Basking

  • Feeding

  • Courting/Mating

  • Nesting

  • Hatched eggs

  • Presence of juveniles

  • Migrating

  • Shell size

Climate Adaptations

Turtles are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. Effects include decreases in clutch size, hatching success and loss of nesting areas. Habitat degradation and loss. Temperature also affects the gender of hatchlings. Warmer nesting areas may produce more females.

These turtles don’t tend to aestivate (spend a hot or dry period in a prolonged state of torpor or dormancy) over summer so drying out of aquatic habitat causes increases in mortality. Poor quality habitat can cause females to halt reproduction indefinitely until conditions become favourable, causing a reduction in recruitment and bottlenecking of populations, increasing the risk of population crashes.

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When and Where

When To Look

  • September - January for nesting
  • May - September for hatchlings
  • Males and females move from one swamp to another as habitat dries up or food becomes scarce

Where To Look

  • Southwest Western Australia (Chelodina colliei), south of Jurien and along the south coast to Fitzgerald River National Park
  • Northern WA and Northern Territory (Chelodina oblonga)
  • Freshwater swamps and streams are the primary habitat
  • Look for nesting females and hatchlings around wetlands, grassed lawns, urban backyards, and in the vicinity of fresh water including park lakes and dams
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What Else?

Similar Species

Similar to the Flat-shelled snake-necked turtle but the upper shell or carapace is much longer than wide hence the name oblong turtle.