Want to learn about the endangered Australian western swamp tortoise? Then read our factual and informative guide…
The endangered Australian western swamp tortoise is nearing extinction with fewer than 300 left. The endangered Australian western swamp tortoise spends 6 to 9 moths buried in soil then it leaves its haven right before winter rains. It is also known as the “western short necked tortoise”
Four reasons have proved inimical for the survival of the species and have pushed it to the brink of extinction; these factor include:
• Drainage of swamp habitats for agricultural purposes
• Deterioration of the habitat due to bush fires and drought
• Increase in the number of predators such as snakes, birds and lizards
• Hunting by mammals such as foxes, cats, dogs and rats
Records of the first sighting of the species date back to 1839. Since the endangered Australian western swamp tortoise was not seen for a long time after the initial sighting; they were believed to be extinct till 1954 when a Perth school boy brought his pet tortoise to a pet show.
Endangered Australian western swamp tortoises feed by hunting in shallow waters and the edges of swampland. Their diet consists of field shrimp, tadpoles, insect larvae, crustaceans and oligochaete worms. Their dwindling figures have been a cause for concern to several conservationists and the remaining population of the endangered Australian western swamp tortoise is restricted to just two seasonal wet swamps. The first at Ellen Brooks Nature reserve and the other at Twin Swamp Nature Reserve.
Since, 1988 attempts are being made by the Perth Zoo to breed the endangered Australian western swamp tortoise in captivity. So far the zoo has been successful in breeding as many as 459 Western swamp tortoises. These tortoises are subsequently placed in to the wild at one of the two reserves mentioned above.
The endangered Australian western swamp tortoise is among the smallest of Australian tortoises. The species displays brown coloring above and a yellowish/whitish tinge below. The shell of the endangered Australian western swamp tortoise has a horny squarish casque, the shell is about 145 cms and is longer than the neck and head even when fully extended. The endangered Australian western swamp tortoise weighs an average of 300 to 400 gms.
The animal retracts its neck and head into the shell when handled roughly and a strong odor is emitted. The endangered Australian western swamp tortoise is found in swamps that are formed by winter rain water that is retained in shallow clay depressions that form fissures.