Long-necked Tortoise: is known as Chelodina longicollis and is also commonly known as the Eastern Snake-necked Tortoise. The Long-necked Tortoise is a native of coastal and inland waterways, wetlands and farm dams of eastern Australia. Its range extends from southeastern South Australia to eastern Queensland.
The carapace (or shell), of the Long-necked Tortoise, reaches a diameter of 25 centimetres. Carapace colour ranges from dull grey-brown to a rich brown or black. In mature specimens the carapace colour is often disguised by the growth of algae covering the shell. The neck, in mature specimens, reaches a length of 15 centimetres. They are able to fold their necks into a strategically placed gap, under the carapace.
Long-necked Tortoises feed on a range of aquatic organisms. Molluscs, crustaceans, tadpoles and small fish all figure in their diet.
Up to 10 eggs are laid in a hole excavated in the banks of watercourses and dams. Breeding usually occurs in early summer.
Long-necked Tortoises have been observed making extensive migrations in summer, particularly after rain.*
Just to confuse matters: Scientifically speaking, the Long-necked Tortoise and all other freshwater tortoises are turtles. They have been given the tortoise common name to distinguish then from large marine turtles.
Long-necked Tortoises are common in our Big Dam at Yallaroo. Within the last two years they have arrived in our Small Dam, which is at least 600 metres from the larger body of water. *The specimen photographed was found wandering through the grass near our northern boundary. This was in January 2004, after rain. This tortoise (or turtle) was at least 300 metres from either of our dams.
Since European settlement the proliferation of farm dams and other water storages has allowed the Long-necked Tortoise population to increase dramatically.
A Word of Warning: be extremely careful if you have to pick up a Long-necked Tortoise. They have glands that exude a foul-smelling liquid when they are disturbed.
Some of this information was gleaned from an excellent book:
Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia by Harold G. Cogger. Published by Reed Books.