Wisdom From The Experts Pt 4 & 5 Two Turtle and Tort experts, two related pieces of wisdom to share about turtle and tortoise anatomy! Lori Neuman-Lee, PhD (@CheloniaGirl ), prof at Utah State University, says – “I wish people knew that turtles can’t come out of their shells…because their shells are part of their...
Words of Wisdom from the Experts Pt 3- “I wish people knew how smart turtles are. They learn quickly where their food comes from; if from a human then they learn that specific person” Is what Michelle Kelly (@MichelleKellyCW), public speaker about Reptiles and amphibians, wishes more people knew about turtles and tortoises. Those of...
Words of wisdom from the experts pt 2 Check out this INCREDIBLE photo by Amanda Hipps, @biophilamanda, one of the experts who responded to our #worldturtleday question. Amanda studies the animals that live in gopher tortoise burrows. In case you didn’t know, gopher tortoise burrows are home to hundreds of other animals. Their status as endangered directly...
This year, in honor of #WorldTurtleDay, we asked herpetologists, biologists, rescues, and rehabbers, to tell us what they wish more people knew about Turtles and Tortoises. Starting today we’ll be sharing a few responses a day! Let’s learn more about the animals we love from people who have devoted their lives to protecting them. Biologist...
Generally underserved by conservation efforts, endangered reptiles finally included in EDGE action alerts.
This glorious punk rock turtle is the Mary River Turtle and it has been added to the Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species list this year. That’s right, it’s evolutionarily distinct from similar species ( its the only member of its genus) and it’s at risk of extinction. Despite being on this earth for 40 million years, the mary river turtle has been no match for human intervention in its environment. Its habitat, in Queensland Australia, is now being severely disrupted by the building of a dam.
Thankfully, its fine sense of style and its addition to the EDGE listing has gained attention from conservationists and work is being done to prevent IT’S demise but this guy wasn’t the only shell to be added to the list.
From the pig-nose turtle to the Radiated Tortoise, turtles, tortoises, and terrapins make up a HUGE portion of EDGE’s reptilian additions. Lack of long-term data and research on reptiles and general lack of public attention has left them out of EDGE’s protection and lacking strong conservation efforts. In fact, this is the FIRST YEAR reptiles have been added. Reptiles have been underserved by conservation efforts in general, according to Rikki Gumbs, co-ordinator of Edge reptiles, partly because they aren’t cuddly or fluffy and “ freak people out”.
“Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals. However, the Edge reptiles list highlights just how unique, vulnerable and amazing these creatures really are.”
“Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals. Many Edge reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages, whose branches of the tree of life stretch back to the age of the dinosaurs. If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth.”
An important point for day 3 for International Turtle and Tortoise Week and we couldn’t agree more. Heres hoping things start changing for the better for our threatened and endangered shell friends and all their reptilian friends as well.
hey everybody, welcome to another amazing installment of Weird Biology and WOWIE ZOWIE do I have an odd one for you today!
this bizarre creature is among the largest of its kind, but bears hardly any resemblance to the rest of the family. (we’re sure this gets mentioned a lot at its family holiday dinners.) it has a real mouthful of a name and the spirit of a cranky old man about to whack you in the shin with his walker.
give it up for…
I’ll just give this image a moment to sink in.
(it’s also called the small-headed softshell turtle, because scientists are a bunch of mean highschoolers.)
seriously, I don’t even really know where to START with this guy. unlike the humble regular earnest hardworking turtle, the Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle does not have an armored shell (hence the name). instead, its shell is soft and leathery. like a pair of well-broken-in Timblerland boots, except that the boots will not bite you.
oh, he is absolutely going to bite you.
this soft pliable shell cuts down on the turtle’s weight by a huge amount, making them far more agile in the water and faster on land than a conventional everyman turtle (this should make you worried). the flattened shape of the shell also makes them more hydrodynamic, making them faster in the water than you can possibly imagine.
for a turtle, I mean.
this is an important advantage, because the Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle spends most of its life in the water. they live on the bottoms of sandy rivers across a wide area of central and southern Asia, where they reach sizes best described as fucking huge. adults can reach up to 45 inches (shell length only) and 260 fucking pounds (whole damn turtle).
their total body length can be over a meter. fuuuuuuuuck. a turtle that size needs a LOT of shoulder room, especially because the adults are a bunch of cranky ginormous chompmonsters. (can’t really blame them, I guess. I’d be irritable too, if my head was that small)
now imagine a cheesed-off 260-pound turtle swimming towards you at Mach Fuck.
Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtles are aggressive, and will attack anything they consider a threat (including humans, fishing boats, and probably also rocks). their primary attack is to just bite the fuck out of whatever is annoying them , but their secondary move is the one to watch out for.
when terminally pissed off, the turtle extends the full length of its surprisingly long neck and delivers a literal cannon headbutt. this attack has been documented as being powerful enough to damage fishing boats. imagine what it would do to your face. (nothing good. if you see this turtle winding up, run.)
the true face of terror.
when left to its own devices, the Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle spends its time buried at the bottom of the river, waiting for its next meal to happen by. (which it can do almost indefinitely because softshell turtles can breathe underwater, holy shit.) once another animal smaller than itself passes overhead the turtle strikes, mortally wounding the prey with its nightmare bite (no joke, the first strike usually kills instantly. this is a creature capable of taking a chunk out of your leg). it’s a pretty solid gig, if you’re a lonely grumpmonster.
beats pumping gas all day, I guess.
in fact, the Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle spends so much of its life underwater that we… don’t really know all that much about it. apart from the biting thing, I mean. the turtle has been very clear on that.
we’re not even entirely sure how long they live, though captive turtles have made it more than 70 grouchy, grouchy years. locals in India claim that in the wild individual river bastards can stick around for up to 140 years, which I am inclined to believe because these people fish for a living and they have to remember where the boat-sinking nightmare turtles live.
it’s only common sense.
despite its wide range, the Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle is now considered Endangered. (note: this is not allowed. what would we replace them with? large cantankerous frogs? big passive-aggressive catfish? I DON’T THINK SO.)
this is primarily due to human hunting, as the turtles are consumed in huge number throughout Asia. (humans will eat anything.)
the government of India has now moved to protect the turtle, restricting trade and moving to conserve the species. we dearly hope this will be enough to save the grumpy frumpy river grandpa.
please stay with us forever, Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle. we love your tiny tiny face and terrible attitude.
thanks for reading! you can find the rest of the Weird Biology series here.