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Broad Shelled Turtle

Scientific name: Chelodina expansa
Also known as weri (Ngarrindjeri dictionary)
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Distinctive features

About the size of a large plate. Rarely found on land. Very long, slender and flattened head.


The broad-shelled turtle is the largest of the three species in this project and has the longest neck of any turtle in the world. It is the least common species in the Murray River, living only in permanent, deep water. Females may exceed 5 kg in mass and males may reach almost 4 kg. They are easy to tell apart from long-necked turtles because the plastron (undeside of the shell) is narrow and lacks the distinct black lines between the scutes. The plastron does not cover the legs, head and tail when they are retracted.
Broad-shelled turtles nest in autumn, so their nesting time is after the eggs of the other species have all hatched. The eggs are much larger than the other species. They nest singly and often quite some distance from the water – maybe even more than 500 m. Embryonic development can sometimes be arrested, giving the eggs a very long incubation period of 1 year of more.
Broad-shelled turtles are obligate carnivores that feed mostly on fast swimming prey such as fish and shrimps, but will eat dead animals, as they are sometimes captured in baited traps resulting in their drowning. They are endangered in Victoria.
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