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New Face in Reptiles

Learn more about the Australian-snake necked turtle.

Dec. 4, 2019 - If you go to the old Chinese alligator exhibit in the Zoo's reptile building, you'll notice that there are no alligators. That's because the pair is currently in brumation, a natural state that is similar to hibernation. While they rest behind the scenes, another reptile is taking over their exhibit: the Australian snake necked turtle.

This turtle gets its name from the way it snaps its head and neck out of its shell sideways to capture prey like worms, tadpoles and small fish. Snake-necked turtles have a special advantage when hunting. By lowering their hyoid (tongue) bone, they can decrease water pressure around them to create a vacuum as they strike with wide open jaws.

The species, also known as the Eastern long-necked turtle, is sometimes referred to as “stinker” because of its ability to eject a pungent liquid secretion from its armpits and groin when disturbed.

Come say hi to our two Australian snake-necked turtles today in the reptiles building!