Fly River Turtle

Alternative Name
Pig Nosed Turtle Scientific Name: Carettochelys insculpta

Basic Info

A heavy turtle, the Fly River Turtle can reach nearly 50 pounds (23 kg) and be as long as 22 inches (56 centimeters). They are gray, with varying hues of brown, olive on top, and yellow, off white or white on the underside. They have light colored jaws and a similarly colored streak over the eye. The shell is covered with skin and has a median keel near the back. The plastron is somewhat small but still forms a plate. Being mostly aquatic, they have developed paddle-shaped limbs with two claws per limb. The top of the tail has a single line of scales. Males can be distinguished from females by their larger tails. Hatchling Fly River Turtles have strong, well-developed limbs, but their shells are not fully developed. Loose flaps of skin surround the shell. These flaps become firm after a week.


Fly River Turtles should be kept in a large pond or pool with water temperature of between 79 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (26.1 to 30 Celsius). Adult females must have access to land for nesting purposes. Captive Fly River Turtles will do well on a diet of fruits such as kiwi, figs, and bananas and vegetables. They should also be offered fish and shrimp occasionally. Like other species the Fly River Turtle also eats turtle pellets as well as the roots of aquatic plants. Like many soft-shelled turtles, Fly River Turtles are particularly susceptible to fungal white spot, which if not treated promptly can kill an immature individual within a week. Some hobbyists report that it can be effectively treated externally. First all loose skin and scabs should be removed then the area should be treated with anti-fungal medications. If you suspect your turtle has white spot consult your veterinarian. This condition can lead to death if left untreated. Signs of serious illness are lethargy and loss of appetite. It has been reported that Fly River Turtles should not be kept with 'sucker fish' (any fish that attaches to things to eat algae etc.). The reason being is that if the Fly River Turtle has any open wounds on their shells, the 'suckers fish' will further wound their shells and may even make them bleed. Additionally it has been reported that water changes and tank cleaning should be done quickly. The reason for this is that both of these procedures cause the turtles stress. The stress can in turn cause them to 'self crack'. 'Self cracking' means that their skin will peel and they will become much less active, though they usually feed normally. When this happens it takes a week or so on average for them to return to normal. Breeding In the wild, Fly River Turtles nest in clean fine sand near water. They lay clutches of between 7 and 39 eggs, depending on the size and location of the turtle. More than one female may lay eggs in a single nest. The eggs hatch after about 60 or 70 days of incubation.

 Fly River Turtle picture

They live primarily in rivers, swamps, lagoons, water holes, and lakes.


The Fly River Turtle is also known as the Pig Nosed Turtle. They can be found in Australia and New Guinea. The Fly River Turtle is a moderately large turtle. Fly River Turtles are highly aquatic. They are shy animals and often hide under banks, tree roots, plant debris, and fallen trees. Fly River Turtles are aggressive, especially towards other members of the species. In captivity Fly River Turtle babies are reported to do well in community environments. They are reported to be curious and hobbyists report that they can be seen exploring their environments often with their snouts. At first they may appear shy, but after they get used to the aquarium they are playful turtles.


New Guinea


Like many shy turtles, the Fly River Turtle was once thought to be quite rare. Now, however, it is known that the Fly River Turtle is quite common in its range, although its numbers are decreasing. The Fly River Turtle can be found on the Strickland, Morehead, Kikori, and Fly Rivers of New Guinea. They can also be found in Irian Jaya and in the Daly River region of Australia. While seeing a Fly River Turtle in Australia is a rare occurrence, there is evidence in the form of eggs lodged with the Victorian Museum, indicating that the Fly River Turtle has been breeding in Australia since 1918. Aboriginal rock paintings that date back 7000 years suggest that the Fly River Turtle, or a species very much like it, has lived in Australia for thousands of years. The Fly River Turtle, while relatively common where it is found, is decreasing in numbers. One reason the population is dropping is that many indigenous people in Australia and New Guinea think of the Fly River Turtle as a gourmet food item and collect both the eggs and the adult turtles. Aboriginal men in Australia used to spear the turtles out of the water by climbing trees near the banks and waiting for the turtles to surface. Now, they are usually caught on lines baited with buffalo meat. Fly River Turtles are also threatened by feral water buffalo. The buffalo use the same banks the turtles nest in as access to water and as places to rest during the night. The buffalo tramples the nests and the vegetation, from which the turtles feed. Mining activities are also responsible for the decrease in population of the Fly River Turtle.

Common Foods

While omnivorous, the Fly River Turtle feeds primarily on plants. One of their preferred foods is the fruit of the mangrove. They also eat leaves and flowers, mollusks, insect larvae, and crustaceans.

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