Emydura subglobosa / Pinkbelly sideneckturtle - Care

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Specification Description
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Chelidae
Subfamily: Chelodininae
Scientific name: Emydura subglobosa
Dutch name: Roodbuik spitskop schildpad
English name: Red bellied shortneck turtle
Lifestyle: Aquatic
Reproduction: oviparous / egglaying
Status: Non threatened
Cites: non

Emydura subglobosa, (krefft, 1876)

The pink belly sideneck turtle is a good example of the positive impact of producing offspring in captivity and the positive impact of serious hobbyists who put time and effort in taking good care of their animals. This is in their country of origin fairly common species and is found a lot on the so called food markets. A place where usually lots of cheap wild caught animals come from. However, because this species is very easily bred in captivity the need for any wildcaught animals is diminished greatly and as a result the exports of these turtles have greatly declined.


General appearance:  The pinkbelly sideneck or shortneck turtle is a classical water turtle. It is easily recognizable by its dark pink to red plastron and lower jaw. Especially males show these bright colours during the mating season. The upper jaw has a bright yellow colour. Giving a strong contrast with the red lower jaw. They have a cream or yellow broad line running from their nose, behind the eye until the end of the had. The rest of the head and body is a dark grey. The shell is relatively flat, and a solid brown in colour. The edge of the shell has a slight edge which is especially evident in young animals. Also these young animals have a red line running along the shell. Which fades away ones they mature. The plastron is a light cream colour. With the clear red colour. The amount of red may vary. Depending on sex, age and the season. On average, a male will get up to17cm in shell length. Females on average 22cm but can reach a shell length of 26cm. Like many turtles gender distinction is relatively easy to see. Males have significantly longer and thicker tail. The cloaca is located behind the plastron. The tail of the females is considerably thinner and the cloaca is positioned closer to the anal shields.


Behaviour:  This is a diurnal sideneck turtle. They are active swimmers and constantly foraging for food. They spend a part of their day basking on a sandy beach or tree trunk near the water. Where they jump off quickly when disturbed into the safety of the water.

In the hobby these are turtles that are absolutely not shy and will show themselves constantly. They will quickly recognize their caregiver who provides their food. Towards other species of turtle they seem fairly tolerant. If there is enough space and visual barriers. Especially in the mating season males can be very intolerant towards other males. Females who are not interested in the constant advances of the males will try to chase it away. When you house a group together always observe the interaction between individuals and place when needed the males outside the mating season separate from the females.


Origin and habitat:  This species has a large distribution. Like all side necks (Pleurodira) they occur only south of the equator. They occur throughout Papua New Guinea - Papua and Cape York Australia. They occur in a variety of habitats including rivers and estuaries to inland waterholes and creeks. They are regularly sunbathing on the river bank or trunks protruding from the water. Always near water so they can quickly jump into the water when disturbed.


Housing:  This is an active turtle and they need plenty of space to swim around. A aquarium or pond for one to three animals should be at least 150x60x60 with at least 30cm of water. Deeper water will surely be appreciated. Provide a basking place where animals can dry up completely and when needed dig in the sand to lay eggs. This dry sunny spot may reach temperatures of 35 to 40C below the hotspot. The average water and air temperature should be 25C but may rise in summer to a maximum of 30C. The night temperature may fall but not below 20C for a longer period of time. Use an UVB solar lighting for the production of vitamin D3. Further furniture can be kept to a minimum to keep as much of possible space for swimming. Some sunken logs and half terracotta pots can serve as visual barriers and under water shelters. One can choose to keep a bare bottom because of  hygienic reasons but a sandy substrate will be certainly appreciate by these turtles for rooting through and foraging.

The quality of the water should be high and clean. A good (external filtration) and movement in the water is a must. Replace despite these good filtration once every 7 to 14 days, a 25% to 50% of the water in order to prevent build-up of waste materials. Tropical root wood, catappa leaves and oak leaf slightly lower pH value and catappa has an anti-bacterial and mould-reducing effect. Males can be quite pushy once they are sexually mature. Therefore it is best to keep the sexes separate outside the breeding season. Otherwise the females otherwise get no rest.


Diet:  Like many turtles are these turtles mainly carnivore but will also feed on some greens and fruits ones in a while. Young and pregnant animals can be fed almost daily, adult animals 3 till 4 times a week. Note that turtles can get too obese easily if they get to much and/or a unbalanced diet. Therefore feeding varied is a must. Bloodworms, tubifex, worms, shrimp, (pieces of) freshwater fish, mussels, various insects, snails with shell etc. This sort easily learns to eat several pellets produced for turtles. Some waterplants, tomatoes, carrot and fruits like mango and apple will sometimes also be eaten. 

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