The Oblong Turtle, also known as the Western long neck turtle, is native to Western Australia. You will find it in seasonal and permanent fresh water areas such as lakes, rivers and swamps. The City is involved with current research on the Oblong turtle to better understand its biology and how we can protect them. You can get involved by joining programs like Turtle Watch
Oblong Turtle distribution and habitat
The turtle is found in waterways of the Perth metropolitan area and throughout the south west, extending north to Hill River, inland to Toodyay, Pingelly and Katanning and east along to the south coast to the Fitzgerald River National Park. The turtle is found in permanent and seasonal freshwater habitats including rivers, lakes, farm dams, swamps, damplands and natural and constructed wetlands.
Physical features and behaviours
The Oblong Turtle has a long neck, and an adult carapace (upper shell) of between 20 and 30cm which is dark brown or black. Its long neck is almost the length of its shell with adults reaching up to 50cm in length. Hatchlings have a carapace roughly the size of a 20 cent coin.
Female Oblong Turtles leave the water in search of suitable sandy soils to lay eggs between September and March each year. They can lay up to 16 leathery eggs. Females may travel long distances during breeding months to find appropriate nesting sites. Freshwater turtles are able to drop their body temperature, slow their pulse rate and use stored body fat instead of eating to survive in hot dry conditions. Sometimes they bury themselves in mud or under leaves or logs, conserving body fluids until conditions are more habitable. This ability is known as aestivation. When this occurs turtles can be more vulnerable to predators and human activity such as clearing and groundworks.
Threats to the Oblong Turtle
Oblong turtles travel up to one kilometre to lay eggs away from waterways. Many are hit by motor vehicles and killed when crossing nearby roads. September to March is the most vulnerable period as females travel away from water to lay eggs, and then return hatchlings to the water.
Predation and poaching
Feral animals are a significant threat to the native Oblong Turtle. Predators include ravens, birds of prey, cats, dogs and foxes. Turtle poaching for pets is illegal but is also a threat. Foxes are currently the only major predator to prey on Oblong Turtles in this district, particularly attacking their eggs. Because foxes are an introduced species, the Oblong Turtle has not been able to develop sufficient defences against it. This plays a role in decreasing turtle populations.
Habitat loss and poor water quality
Increased development around wetland areas leads to disjointed and reduced habitat for turtles. Urbanised wetlands in metropolitan areas also contain high nutrient levels (nitrogen and phosphorus) and heavy metals such as magnesium, mercury and copper which affect water quality. Turtles may ingest, inhale and absorb polluted water. Turtle shells that are heavily covered in algae suggest high nutrient levels in the water.
Oblong Turtle FAQs
What do I do if I find an injured turtle?
Can I take a turtle from its natural habitat and keep it as a pet?
Please make sure that the turtle is actually injured, before you intervene. A turtle may be injured by a car or attacked by a dog in which case it won't be moving much. If the turtle appears lethargic and dehydrated it is probably injured. Contact Native ARC
if you find a turtle in the City of Cockburn. Turtles can make remarkable recoveries from serious injuries.
If instructed to handle a turtle, grasp the turtle around the middle of the carapace (upper shell) and hold the animal away from your body. This way you avoid the hind legs that may cause minor scratches by their small claws. Holding the turtle away from your body will also avoid any bodily secretions from the turtle.
No. Catching and keeping turtles as pets is illegal and is also a threat to population numbers.What do Oblong Turtles eat?
The natural turtle diet includes frogs, fish and macroinvertebrates (animals with no backbone) such as insects, crustaceans, snails and worms. Turtle hatchlings may also eat aquatic plants and midge and mosquito larvae. This helps the natural ecosystem by controlling possible nuisance midge outbreaks.What do I do if find a turtle?
How long do turtle eggs take to hatch?
Check there are no threats close by and then leave the turtle alone and keep pets away. The turtle may need to be moved if it is found on a road. In this case if the road is quiet, it is best to stop, assist the turtle to cross in the same direction it was travelling and then leave it alone. If you catch a turtle and return it to the water, it will then have to make the dangerous trip again, which increases its risk of being injured or killed. Call your nearest Turtle Watch Helpline or go to the Climate Watch website
and record your lucky sighting!
Turtle eggs take between 210 and 220 days or 26-41 weeks to hatch, depending on weather conditions and temperature. Turtle eggs often hatch in June or July.How do they get killed if they have a shell?
It is a common misconception that Oblong Turtles are able to protect themselves by retracting into their shell. Oblong Turtles cannot pull their head or limbs into their shell.How long do turtles live?
Turtles have a long lifespan, which is often over 40 years.What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
A ‘turtle’ is water dwelling and a ‘tortoise’ is land dwelling. Turtles also have a flat shell with webbed feet and claws or flippers. Tortoises have a domed shell with short, sturdy bent legs.What if I see a turtle on my property?
Female turtles travel up to one kilometre from waterways, searching for an appropriate area to nest and lay eggs. Make sure there are no threats to the turtle such as pets, leave the turtle alone and enjoy your lucky sighting. If unsure contact Native ARC or your nearest TurtleWatch Helpline.