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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 18, 2021

17 Fitzroy River Turtle Facts You’ll Never Forget

Fitzroy River Turtle Fact File

The Fitzroy River turtle (Rheodytes leukops) is a species of turtle that belong to the genus Rheodytes. They are the only species left in that genus as the other species, Rheogytes devisi, became extinct a long time ago. They are found in the Fitzroy River and its tributaries, in Queensland, Australia.

Here, we have many amazing and interesting facts about Fitzroy River turtles that you will enjoy. For more relatable content, check out these common snapping turtle facts and mata mata turtle facts for kids.

Fitzroy River Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Fitzroy River turtle?

Fitzroy River turtles (Rheodytes leukops) are a species of freshwater turtles.

What class of animal does a Fitzroy River turtle belong to?

Australian Fitzroy River turtle belongs to the class Reptilia. It is a species of turtle found in the Fitzroy River and its tributaries, in Queensland, Australia.

How many Fitzroy River turtles are there in the world?

The total number of Fitzroy River turtles is unknown. But, according to the IUCN Red List reports, their population is quite low and their conservation stated is listed as Vulnerable. The reason behind this low population is nest predation by foxes, goannas, and crocodiles.

Where does a Fitzroy River turtle live?

Fitzroy River turtles are found in freshwater rivers with large deep pools and rocky, sandy beds connected by shallow riffles. They are often associated with ribbon weed beds and prefer to have areas with a high water clarity. They are found in their natural distribution, that is, south-eastern Queensland.

What is a Fitzroy River turtle's habitat?

A Fitzroy River turtle's natural habitat is the Fitzroy River basin and its tributaries situated in south-eastern Queensland, Australia. Rheodytes leukops are found in freshwater rivers that have large deep pools and rocky, sandy beds connected by shallow riffles. They usually prefer to live in areas with high water clarity and are often associated with ribbon weed beds.

Who do Fitzroy River turtles live with?

Rheodytes leukops (Fitzroy River turtles) can be seen in groups like all other turtle species.

How long does a Fitzroy River turtle live?

The life span of these short-necked turtles is unknown but based on the knowledge gathered by observing other turtles, it is estimated that they have a really long life span and can live for up to 50-60 years. However, this depends on their diet and surviving predation by other animals.

How do they reproduce?

Fitzroy River turtle females lay up to 46-59 eggs in a year, divided into three clutches to five clutches, with each clutch containing 12-20 eggs. The nesting period is between September and October. They make their nests on river sand-banks, and these nests can sometimes be away from the water, on the flat river sand-banks.

Their nests suffer from predation, and the predator destroys 100% of the nest most of the time. So that is the main reason behind the decline in their population.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red list, these turtles have the conservation status of Vulnerable. They are listed as Vulnerable by IUCN because of the decline in their population, habitat degradation, and predators. Foxs, pigs, and goannas often attack these turtles as well as their nests.

Nest destruction is an important reason behind their Vulnerable conservation status, as predators often attack their nest and completely destroying it, so there are no surviving hatchlings left. That is why this species is having difficulty in increasing its population.

Fitzroy River Turtle Fun Facts

What do Fitzroy River turtles look like?

Fitzroy River turtles are also known as 'bum breathing turtles'.

Rheodytes leukops are dark brown turtles that have dark spots and blotches on the upper shell surface. They have a broadly oval shell, and large, pointed conical tubercles are present on their necks. Their exposed flesh is olive-gray in color, and its belly is pale-yellow or cream-colored.

Their plastron is lightly colored and smooth. There is a very minimal difference between the male and the female. Females have shorter tails, and the distance between their anal scutes to plastron and the cloacae is also less. Both have two enlarged cloacal bursae that help them in taking oxygen and perform cloacal respiration or cloacal breathing. They can take 15-60 breaths per minute through gills located in their cloaca.

How cute are they?

Fitzroy River turtles (Rheodytes leukops) are medium-sized turtles. They appear to be quite cute, but you should not get close as they are already low in numbers, and this makes them more defensive. They may bite you, and if that bite breaks through the skin, it can cause pain, and requires medical attention.

How do they communicate?

Like all other species of turtles, they also lack vocal cords but can produce 'hissing' sounds by quickly expelling air from their lungs. They usually produce this sound when under stress. So it would help if you did not get close to it when it hisses as it might get irritated and attack you. In addition, many turtles use biting as a method of communication. Although it is not sure, they can also bite to indicate that they want to be alone.

How big is a Fitzroy River turtle?

Fitzroy River turtles are medium-sized. They are about 9.8-10.2 in (25-26 cm) in length. As compared to a common snapping turtle, they are smaller in length and size. The common snapping turtle has a length of 8-14 in (20-36 cm).

How fast can a Fitzroy River turtle move?

Fitzroy River turtles (Rheodytes leukops) may not be fast movers on land, but their swimming skills are impressive. Like all other turtles and aquatic animals, they are also great swimmers, though their swimming speed has not been measured.

How much does a Fitzroy River turtle weigh?

Rheodytes leukops weigh only about 8.5-9 oz (241-255 g). These are medium-sized turtles and do not weigh much.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and the female of the Rheodytes leukops species do not have any separate names. They are referred to as male and female only. You can differentiate between a male and a female by looking at their tails. Males have larger tails, and the distance between the anal scutes and the cloacae of a male is greater.

What would you call a baby Fitzroy River turtle?

A baby Fitzroy River turtle can be called a hatchling or juvenile. They incubate in about 45 days. Juveniles are always at risk of getting eaten by a predator. Their nests are easily discoverable, and predators often destroy their nests and hatchlings along with them. As a result, only one out of 100 juveniles are able to survive and become mature.

What do they eat?

Fitzroy River turtles are known to feed on a variety of foods. Their diet includes freshwater sponges, larvae of aquatic insects, algae, and terrestrial plant material such as leaves and bark. They are also associated with ribbon weed beds.

Are they dangerous?

These species of turtles are rather harmless. They come less in contact with humans. Many people think that they are venomous because they belong to the Reptilia family, but that is not true. Their bite is rather painful but not venomous.

Would they make a good pet?

Many people keep turtles as pets. This species of turtles would not make a good pet as they are adapted to live in freshwater rivers with large deep pools and rocky, sandy beds connected by shallow riffles. They are seen swimming as shallow as 5.9 in (15 cm).

Did you know...

Fitzroy River turtles remain underwater for about 21 days. They are incredibly adaptable animals.

These creatures are the only remaining species of their genus, and the other one is extinct. The name of the extinct species is Rheodytes devisi. Their nesting period is between September and October.

Their population has taken quite a hit over time, and now their conservation status has been listed under the Vulnerable category by the IUCN Red List.

What's the other name of the Fitzroy River turtle?

Fitzroy River turtle is also known as 'bum breathing turtle' because it has developed cloacal bursae that help them in taking oxygen and perform cloacal respiration or cloacal breathing. This mode of cloacal ventilation has given them the name 'bum breathing turtle'.

Why are Fitzroy River turtles endangered?

Leukops (Rheodytes) are endangered due to various reasons. They suffer from habitat degradation as the rivers they live in having an increased amount of turbidity. This turbidity and sedimentation may affect food resources and cloacal respiration. Another big reason for their decline is egg predation and nest destruction. Predators often attack their nests and destroy everything. They do not leave even a single egg. Due to this reason, their generation is facing difficulty in progressing.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our hawksbill sea turtle interesting facts and Chinese softshell turtle fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Fitzroy river turtle coloring pages.

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