Turtle Nesting Season is Here!

It’s that time of the year again, when our native, female snake-necked turtles temporarily leave the water and are on the move around our wetlands. While they may look a little lost, they are actually on a mission to find the perfect patch of sand or soil to nest! Once they have laid and buried a clutch of up to 16 eggs, they return to the water for the rest of the year.

A native, snake-necked turtle (Chelodina oblonga). These turtles are also known as Oblong turtles or South-western snake-necked turtles.

When out and about, turtles risk being hit by cars and being predated on by dogs, cats, foxes or even ravens. Turtles are also under increasing pressure from habitat modification and destruction and our local snake-necked turtles have now become a near-threatened species.

However, there are a lot of things you can do to help our turtles!

  • Drive slowly around wetlands
  • Record all sightings of turtles using the TurtleSAT website or App.
  • If they need help, assist them in the direction they were heading
  • Keep your dogs on a leash
  • Protect them from predators (keep your distance, but you can wave off ravens)
  • Take all injured or dead turtles to the WA Wildlife Hospital (formerly Native ARC) at Bibra Lake. 

To help people understand turtles and their behaviour better, City of Cockburn recently held two free Turtle Information Sessions for the community. Rehabilitating Roe 8 sponsored PhD candidate Anthony Santoro to present during these event. Anthony has conducted extensive research on snake-necked turtles, including around Bibra Lake and the Rehabilitating Roe 8 project area and found that while some turtles don’t tend to move around very much, others are more adventurous and have crossed Hope Road several times!

PhD candidate Anthony Santoro explaining movement of snake-necked turtles around Bibra Lake

Members of WA Wildlife (formerly Native ARC) brought Tommy the Turtle along to demonstrate how to safely handle a turtle, should it need moving from a dangerous location. Watch the video at the end of this post, if you’d like to see how to keep both yourself and turtles safe!

Snake-necked turtle hatchling adjacent to a pen for size reference.

If you and your friends or family would like become citizen scientists and help us to collect valuable data on turtles, don’t forget to download the free TurtleSAT app or have the TurtleSAT website ready to go next time you go for a walk around our beautiful wetlands. This way you are ‘ready to go’ to easily record any sightings!

You can also download, print and share the ‘What to do if you see a turtle?’ info sheet below.

WA Wildlife member Rachel demonstrating how to safely handle a turtle during a community information session.