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Australo-American Side-Necked Turtles: Chelidae

Physical Characteristics

Australo-American side-necked turtles are a varied group of medium-sized to rather large turtles with necks that fold sideways under their shells, rather than retracting, or pulling backward, into the shell. In some cases, the neck can be as long as the upper shell, or carapace (KARE-a-pays) or even longer. A few side-necked turtles, however, have very short necks. Depending on the species, the upper shell of adults can range in length from 6 to 19 inches (15–48 centimeters). Most turtles have dark upper shells, and a few have brightly colored lower shells, or plastrons (PLAS-truns); heads; necks; legs; or tails. These parts of the body may be red, orange, or yellow. Often, the juveniles (JOO-vuh-nuhls), or young turtles, are the most brightly colored; the color fades as they age. Some of these turtles have glands, or special organs, that give off a bad smell, which wards off predators, or other animals that hunt and kill the turtles. Males and females look quite similar, although the females in most species are larger than the males. In a few cases, the males have especially long tails that they may use in mating with females.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesAustralo-American Side-Necked Turtles: Chelidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Matamata (chelus Fimbriatus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, AUSTRALO-AMERICAN SIDE-NECKED TURTLES AND PEOPLE