Gulf Snapping Turtle
|Australian Status: Endangered|
|Compiled by Gabriel Crowley & Mark Ziembicki based on Woinarski J.C.Z., Pavey C., Kerrigan R., Cowie I. & Ward S. 2007. Lost from our Landscape - Threatened Species of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, Darwin.|
|Last updated June 2009|
What it looks like: The Gulf Snapping Turtle is a short-necked freshwater turtle. It can grow to about 35 cm in length. Its head and shell are coppery-brown. Some shields on its white under-shell have wavy edges. It is similar to the more widespread and common Northern Snapping Turtle (Elseya dentata), which has straight edges to all its belly shields.
Where it lives: The Gulf Snapping Turtle is found only in rivers that drain into the Gulf of Carpentaria. This includes the rivers systems from the Calvert River, in the Northern Territory, to the Gregory River in Queensland. This freshwater turtle is mainly herbivorous, and feeds on leaves, fruits, flowers, bark and Pandanus roots. Figs may be this turtle's most important food. Young animals may eat more animal matter, such as insect larvae.
Importance as an indicator: Presence of healthy populations of Gulf Snapping turtle is a good indication of a healthy riparian ecosystem with stable river banks that are not weed infested. The nests of this species are found in soil near the water’s edge, where they are particularly vulnerable to being raided by feral pigs, or trampled by stock. The species may also get caught in fishing nets.
Look after Gulf Snapping Turtle by controlling feral animals, especially pigs. Restrict access by stock to riparian areas, where necessary fencing off the riparian zone. Keep the river banks clear of weeds, such as Rubber Vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) and Prickly Acacia (Acacia nilotica). When controlling weeds, ensure pesticides do not enter the waterway and avoid disturbing the river banks. Ensure turtles do not get entangled in fishing nests.
Best Practice Management for Gulf Snapping Turtle
* Control pest animals * Control weeds * Fence key habitat * Limit pesticide use * Reduce bycatch * Report new populations * More information is needed about this species
View this content in the full Northern Land Manager site which also contains over 19,000 items all quickly browseable by location, topic and search