It may have a dangerous sounding name, but the White-throated snapping turtle (Elseya albagula) is in fact one of Queensland’s endangered animals. Only recognised as a separate species in 2006, this freshwater turtle is the largest of the snapping turtles, growing up to 420mm in length, and is found only in the Burnett, Mary, Fitzroy and Raglan rivers.
The turtle lays a single clutch of eggs each year and reaches maturity around 20 years of age.
Populations of White-throated snapping turtles have been steadily aging over the last several decades because of an inadequate recruitment of young turtles. Past monitoring within the Burnett catchment indicates that almost all clutches of eggs laid by the turtle are destroyed by predators the night they are laid or are trampled by livestock the following day. Identified predators include European Foxes, feral dogs and cats, water rats, goannas and echidnas.
In a joint project with the Fitzroy Basin Authority (FBA), BMRG is undertaking a range of activities aimed at protecting the White-throated snapping turtle, including:
- Trapping of feral pigs
- Fumigation of fox dens
- Removal of weeds and follow-up spraying to reduce weed incursion on nesting banks
- Installation of exclusion cattle exclusion fencing along nesting banks
- Installation of predator exclusion devices on identified nests
It is expected that the combination of these strategies will give our snappy little friends a fighting chance of survival.