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29. Bell’s Sawshelled Turtle

Myuchelys bellii

About

Bell’s sawshelled turtle, also known as Bell’s snapping turtle, is one of four species of the genus Myuchelys which split from all other reptiles almost 30 million years ago.

To put this in perspective, our genus, Homo, split from our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos of the genus Pan, less than 12 million years ago.

This turtle has some of the lowest reproductive output of any Australian Chelid turtles, and is one of several “butt-breathing” turtles that can respire underwater through organs in its cloaca.

This species is under threat from ongoing loss of vegetation adjacent to rivers and streams, loss of lotic habitat from water resource development. Land clearance and livestock grazing has increased turbidity and filling of deep pools.

There are no major conservation programmes focused on this species, though several are planned by the Australian regional government.

  • Order: Testudines
  • Family: Chelidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: unknown
  • Size: 22.7 - 30cm (?)

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.91 (?)
ED Score: 45.207 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct

Distribution

This species is found at headwaters of the Namoi and Gwydir Rivers, New South Wales, Australia and also Bald Rock Creek, south-eastern Queensland.

Habitat and Ecology

This species lives in major rivers flowing through granitic bedrock. The riverbed is sandy and rocky with small beds of aquatic vegetation. It nests terrestrially.

It has a omnivorous diet, which includes aquatic plants, algae, sponges, terrestrial fruits, aquatic insects, crayfish and carrion.

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