195

Western Swamp Turtle

Australia

195

Pseudemydura umbrina

Endangered

  • Habitat destruction due to agriculture and urbanisation
  • Drought and wildfires
  • Predation caused by foxes, cats, and rats

The Western Swamp Tortoise, also called Short-Necked Turtle, is the rarest reptile in Australia that can only be found in Perth. This freshwater turtle species was first discovered from a single specimen back in the early 19th century. No other similar creatures have been found until a Perth schoolboy brought one to a wildlife show in the 1950s.

This carnivorous reptile species characterized by its brown or black shell prefers to stay in swamps that only fill during springtime and winter season and then retreat under deep leaf litter or deep in ground holes during other seasons of the year. Its diet consists of small aquatic invertebrates and frogs.

The Western Swamp Turtle has lost most of its habitat range to agricultural activities and urbanization efforts. Whatever’s left is contaminated by pesticides and insecticides or exposed to feral predators such as foxes, cats, and rats. Climate change experienced in the area means less rain to fill the swamps and wetlands, altering its normal breeding cycle and increasing the risk of wildfires especially during summertime.