Sunday, November 24, 2013

Snake-neck Turtle

Yesterday, Mrs Gouldiae brought to my attention a Snake-necked Turtle behaving oddly beside the driveway.

It soon become apparent it was a female digging her nest hole, something I’d not seen before.

She let me sit nearby for some time and record her endeavours. Eventually she had the hole as deep as her rear excavating legs would reach.

Next she maneuvered her cloaca above the hole and began laying. I watched as she deposited six eggs into the hole. After each one she reached down with one hind foot seemingly to check that the egg had dropped completely down the hole.

I saw six eggs drop into the hole but like all things ‘toirtesey’ it was a slow process and I retired for some relief for a short while so I’m not certain of the final number.

I then watched her fill the hole back in with some amazing maneuvers. Deftly she used each hind paw separately to scrape some soil back over the hole and then she used both paws in a cupping manner to drag the remainder into place.

I was then astounded to watch her for quite some time as she tamped the raised surface back down to ground level by lifting her body off the ground by extending one or both hind legs then dropping back down onto the ground.

The end result was that the nest site was practically unrecognizable, (bottom right hand corner in the picture below).

Satisfied with her efforts she ‘hurried’ off back to her favourite ‘watering hole’.

It would be nice to see the complete cycle and to observe the hatchlings in 130 to 160 days – I’ve made a note in the diary.

(Birds of course are not the only fauna to be threatened by our expanding urbanization – so too are the freshwater turtles and various groups are researching this.)


  1. A very interesting post. I hope you manage to see the young turtles come out - it looks as if they will have to be strong!

  2. Will the ground be soft enough after a long hot summer for the hatchlings to dig themselves out? You might have to leave your sprinkler on :)

  3. Great observations and photos! I've seen Short-necked Turtles do the same thing here in Brisbane, but without my camera handy. It would be fantastic if you see the hatchlings - I wonder if they'll emerge at night, in the day or in wet weather? I've put your blog into my reading list so hopefully I'll find out! :)

  4. wow, what an amazing sight to see! The photos are fantastic.