Photo: Pig nose turtles are

Pet turtles Perth


Oblong Turtles live in Perth and throughout the south-west of Western Australia. They are found from Hill River in the north, inland to Toodyay, Pingelly and Katanning, and east along the south coast to the Fitzgerald River National Park.

Turtles may be famous for being slow and steady, but don’t be surprised if you see an Oblong Turtle lunging from the shallows with the speed of a hungry crocodile, neck extended for the strike. Large females will prey on birds including Purple Swamphens. They need to build up their body fat when they are active to survive during less favourable conditions.

Oblong Turtle map Distribution map of the Oblong Turtle, Chelodina oblonga.

Turtles locate their prey in low visibility water by echolocation, the same way that bats and some dolphins do. They emit a series of high frequency clicks and listen to the echoes that return from various objects near to them. They use these echoes to locate and identify the objects.

From September to January, you may just see Oblong Turtles trying to cross the road. Watch out for them near their habitats of permanent and seasonal freshwater bodies including rivers, lakes, farm dams, swamps, damplands, and natural and constructed wetlands. Females will be leaving the water during spring and summer in search of sandy soils in which to lay their eggs.

If she gets to a safe spot, the female Oblong Turtle digs a hole with her back feet and lays 2-16 leathery eggs. Depending on the temperature and the conditions, it can take 26 to 41 weeks for the eggs to hatch. Often the little turtles will want to get back across the road their mum came over to get back to water.

You have Oblong Turtle hatchlings to thank for keeping down the number of mosquitoes. One tiny turtles can eat up to 70 mosquito larvae a day. The oval shaped black shell, also called the ‘carapace’, of a hatchling is about the size of a 20 cent piece.

Oblong Turtles can be kept as pets if you have a permit.Photo: Alwyn Lardell.

A soon-to-be mother turtle and tiny baby Oblong Turtles are extremely vulnerable to cars. It’s vital that you observe wildlife road signs and drive carefully to avoid turtles crossing the road.

If you see a turtle that looks like it wants to cross, you can help out. Pull over to a safe spot, and be very careful about your own safety on the road. Pick up the turtle with both hands either side of its shell, with its head facing away so it can’t bite. Turtles don’t have teeth, and instead tear their food with their back claws, but they do have strong jaws so it’s best to avoid their heads.

Hold the animal away from your body so that it won’t squirt on you. Be careful as the hind legs have small claws that may give you a scratch. Take the turtle to a safe spot in the direction
it was travelling and put it down gently.

You can also lend a helping hand if you find a turtle that has become trapped in your yard. Place them in a position where they can make their own way back to the wetland or nearby water source unimpeded.

If you spot an injured turtle, and you're in Western Australia, please call WildCare on (08) 9474 9055. This service is available 24-hours, 7 day a week. If you're not in WA, you can find your nearest wildlife carer group here. A turtle with an injured shell has very poor chances of survival on in the wild, so please call someone to help an injured turtle if you see one.

A turtle’s shell is made of live tissue and so it cannot be repaired with fiberglass or other material. If cracked, the shell must be cleaned surgically by a vet, while the turtle is under a general anaesthetic. Next, the turtle needs specialised care, antibiotics and pain relief so that it can heal its shell over time, free from infection and safe from predators

TIP
If you’re doing some landscaping or gardening, stay away from muddy areas so that you don’t accidentally unearth a turtle. When it’s too hot or cold for an Oblong Turtle, it will hide away in damp mud and enter a deep sleep called ‘aestivation’. This is similar to hibernation, but not as deep. Turtles can’t convert the food they eat into body heat like we do, but instead they rely on the temperature of their environment and the sun to warm them enough for activity.

DID YOU KNOW?

200 million years in the making has resulted in one of the most cleverly complex creatures on earth – the not-so-humble turtle. Turtles evolved in the Triassic period, when dinosaurs were beginning to walk the earth, and have changed very little since then. They are highly adapted to their environment and have many special features including:

  • 'ballast tanks' similar to a submarine, for regulating flotation;
  • large lungs that are also used for flotation as well as breathing;
  • a complex heart that can shunt blood away from the lungs completely when submerged for long periods; and
  • a neck as long as its oblong shell with nostrils arranged like a snorkel.

These little animals had their submarine skills, including sonar, perfected thousands of years ago. It has taken humans until the 20th century to develop modern submarines (at vast cost, utilising nuclear power and large operating crews) which come close to replicating the natural abilities of a turtle.

Source: www.backyardbuddies.net.au

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