Endangered Wide Bay turtle rescued from wildlife carer
A CRITICALLY endangered white-throated snapping turtle was recently rescued from a wildlife carer who advertised the turtle on social media in the Wide Bay region.
The turtle was incorrectly advertised as a saw-shell turtle, however a Department of Environment and Science wildlife officer spotted the ad and found the carer had been keeping the rare turtle without a licence for six months.
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The carer also had a Krefft’s River turtle in possession. Both turtles were seized and checked by a vet.
Based on its small size, the white-throated snapping turtle was thought to be about a year old.
Turtles kept in captivity are susceptible to bacterial infections from manufactured food and those infections can be passed on to wild turtle populations.
With a clean bill of health, the turtle was fitted with a microchip and released on the banks of the Burnett River where it will be tracked for research purposes.
The Krefft’s River turtle was given to Alexandra Park Zoo, where it is 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 Mary, Burnett, Fitzroy and Raglan Rivers of the Wide Bay region.
DES officers conduct regular compliance and licence checks.
Wildlife carers can only keep animals they have a licence for.
DES officers routinely work cooperatively with other agencies, including the Queensland Police Service 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