White-throated snapping turtle rescued and released

Issued: 20 April 2020

White-throated snapping turtle

White-throated snapping turtle

An eagle-eyed wildlife officer from the Department of Environment and Science (DES) has rescued a critically endangered white-throated snapping turtle after spotting an advertisement on social media in the Wide Bay region.

The turtle was being offered for sale or giveaway by a wildlife carer and was advertised as a saw-shell turtle.

From the photos, the wildlife officer realised it was not a saw-shell turtle, and contacted the wildlife carer.

A compliance check by wildlife officers revealed the carer had been in possession of the white-throated snapping turtle for about six months and did not have a licence to keep the animal.

Further checks revealed the carer was also in possession of a Krefft’s River turtle that she also did not have a licence for, and both animals were seized.

Based on its small size, the white-throated snapping turtle was estimated to be about a year old. A veterinarian examined the turtle to ensure it was healthy and disease free.

Turtles kept in captivity are susceptible to bacterial infections from manufactured food and those infections can be passed onto wild turtle populations.

With a clean bill of health, the turtle was fitted with a microchip and its location and movements will be tracked for research purposes.

On 1 April 2020, wildlife officers released the turtle at an undisclosed location on the banks of the Burnett River and watched it scurry away.

The Krefft’s River turtle was given to Alexandra Park Zoo, where it now part of the zoo’s aquarium exhibition.

White-throated snapping turtles were described as a separate species in 2006 and are only found in the Burnett, Fitzroy, Raglan and Mary Rivers of the Wide Bay region.

DES officers conduct regular compliance and licence checks. Wildlife carers are reminded that they can only keep animals they have a licence for.

DES officers routinely work cooperatively with other agencies, including the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and the Federal Government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment on the illegal trade and keep of native wildlife.

Illegal trade, keeping and movement of wildlife can impact on wildlife populations, especially when threatened species are involved.

Many animals unlawfully taken from the wild die or become seriously ill, especially when being shipped interstate or overseas.

The maximum penalty for taking, keeping or selling wildlife without a permit is $391,650 or two years in prison.

Anyone with information about the illegal trade of native wildlife is urged to call DES on 1300 130 372 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

White-throated snapping turtles fast facts:

  • It prefers permanent flowing water habitats where there are suitable shelters and refuges
  • Breeding usually occurs in autumn and winter and eggs take 24 weeks to hatch
  • Its diet includes aquatic plants, native fruits and occasionally insects and molluscs
  • The turtles can dive for three hours and breathe through their cloacal bursae
  • Egg predation by native and feral animals is reducing the numbers of hatchlings that survive to adulthood

Visit White-throated snapping turtle for more information.