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Australo-American Side-Necked Turtles: Chelidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Many Australo-American side-necked turtles feed mainly at night and spend their days basking, or warming themselves, in the sun. When a dry spell strikes, some species bury themselves in the mud and become inactive until the rains come. Stein-dachner's turtle is one example. This turtle can survive droughts (DROWTS), or dry spells, as long as two years by living off water that it stores inside its body in sacs, or pouches, called "accessory bladders." In cooler climates, some also hibernate, or become inactive, during the winter months. Most hibernate alone, but the common snake-necked turtle of Australia hibernates in groups. Other turtles, like the Argentine side-necked turtle, will take occasional breaks from hibernation (high-bur-NAY-shun) on warm days, when they venture out to a sunny spot and stretch out in the sun.

Except for the most tropical of species, which may breed all year, side-necked turtles mate in the early spring. Depending on the species, the female lays one to twenty-eight round or oblong eggs in a shallow depression, or hollow, under leaves; in an underground nook, or sheltered space; or in some other nest. The female of one species, the northern snake-necked turtle, lays her eggs underwater in the muddy bottom of a temporary pond. The eggs develop only after the pond dries up, and the young hatch before the next rainy season arrives. For those eggs laid in underground nests, the young hatch out of the eggs but stay in the nest until the rains come to soften the soil above them. Then they claw their way to the surface and take their first steps aboveground. The outdoor temperature has no effect on whether the eggs hatch into males or females, as it does with many other turtles.

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