Critter Science

The Science of Animals

Fitzroy River turtle

The Butt Breathing Fitzroy River Turtle

The Fitzroy River turtle is a species of freshwater turtle that lives in south eastern Queensland, Australia and is only found in tributaries of the Fitzroy River. Unfortunately, due mainly to predation and also human interference, these turtles are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Conservation efforts are helping, but very slowly.

First the Stats…

Scientific name: Rheodytes leukops
Weight: 8.5 – 9 ounces
Length: 10+ inches
Lifespan: Unknown

Now on to the Facts!

1.) When they hatch they are not even as long as the average pinky finger.

2.) The primary predators of these turtles are cats, foxes, pigs, goannas and crocodiles.

3.) These turtles are found in rivers with large deep pools and rocky, sandy beds, connected by shallow riffles. They prefer high water clarity, and are often associated with Ribbon weed beds.

4.) The Fitzroy River turtle is known to feed on the larvae of aquatic insects, sponges and ribbon weed.

5.) Boat owners have been encouraged to look out for the turtles floating at the surface and go slow for the turtles below the water surface to give them time to get out of the way.

But wait, there’s more on the Fitzroy River turtle!

6.) There are currently several studies describing the habitat and biological characteristics of the Fitzroy River turtle, as well as efforts to save the species.

7.) They can take between 15 – 60 breaths per minute through gills located in their cloaca (their butt)! This process is known as cloacal respiration.

Did you know…?
They can stay underwater for an amazing 21 days at a time!

8.) Nesting occurs between September and October.

Now a Short Fitzroy River turtle Video!

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Critter Man

With over 40 years of critter experience to my credit and hundreds of zoology teaching hours to people around the world, I have amassed not only a continuing thirst for critter knowledge but a desire to teach others all I can about the majesty and wonder of our natural world. Critter Science is a culmination of such knowledge.I have hands on as well as book acquired intel on all kinds of critters. Whether they're on land, sea, or air.I will never say that I know everything about all animals. That's impossible, even for a savant. But, that being said, ask me any animal question and I'll answer it. If I don't know the answer, I'll get an answer for you!Let it be said that I have been oft times accused of loving animals more than I love people. I can neither confirm nor deny this.

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