What do they look like? The Mary River Turtle grows to have a shell length of up to 340 mm as an adult. Hatchling turtles by contrast emerge with a shell length of only 30-40 mm. As an adult the species has a low streamlined shell, moderately short neck, and well webbed fore and hind limbs. One of the most distinctive features of this species is the extremely long tail in adult males, which can be as long as 70% of the shell length.
Where do they live? The Mary River Turtle is found only in the Mary River, which is located in Queensland.
What do they eat? Mary River Turtles perform an important function in the pond food chain by living on waste matter.
Behaviour: Mary River Turtles hibernate during winter. Although extremely uncommon, they can be seen them basking on logs in the Mary River. Their nests have also been found in vegetation on the edge of ponds.
Reproduction: Mary River hatchlings are very small, having a shell length of just 3-4 cm.
Threats: The Mary River Turtle is found only in the Mary River, Queensland. Over the last twenty years, water quality in this river has been diminished by commercial sand-mining, siltation, agricultural run-off and other forms of pollution which has posed a serious threat to the future of the Mary River Turtle.
Conservation Status: In the mid 1970’s this species of freshwater turtle was commonly referred to as the ‘pet shop turtle’ or ‘penny turtle’ as literally 1000’s of young animals were collected from the wild to fuel the pet trade in the southern Australian states. Today this species is officially classified as endangered.