TO CARE FOR AUSTRALIAN FRESHWATER TORTOISES
AND SEXUAL DIFFERENCES
Male tortoises have
longer tails than females, and their plastrons are flat or curved
inward. The females' plastrons are flat or curved outward. These
characteristics cannot be seen when they are babies.
"Most of the sex determining features do not appear until
the tortoise is mature. Emydura macquari male is immediately
recognisable by the length and thickness of his tail. In Chelodina
species it is almost impossible to determine the sex, and captive
females often lay fertile eggs without apparent contact with
a male. The female can retain sperm from a mating in the wild
for a period of four years. Normally the female comes ashore
to nest, but if unable
to do so, will lay eggs in water where the embryos suffocate."
Female tortoises like to have a patch of soft soil where they
can dig a hole in which to lay their eggs. Once the eggs are
laid, the tortoise covers them so
carefully that the human eye cannot see where the hole has been.
The eggs look like ping-pong balls. Baby tortoises rarely hatch
There are two things which you should never do to your tortoise.
Firstly, never paint on its shell, as its shell must breathe
or it will die. Secondly,
never bore a hole in the shell. This is very cruel.
Tortoises, like any other creature, love to be free to roam.
To tie them to anything so they cannot escape is as cruel as
it would be to do it to a human.
Besides, there is no way you can tie up a tortoise without harming
it greatly. Shell-boring, as mentioned, is excruciatingly
painful. Tying string or cord around one leg is just as bad.
It inevitably cuts off the circulation and the poor tortoise
lives in constant pain as the leg dies, rots and finally drops
altogether. This has happened all too frequently. String around
the neck would, of course, kill the tortoise.
Do not allow little children to maul the animal. Tortoises should
not be over-handled. When putting a new tortoise in a tank with
a tortoise that is already living there, watch for as long as
possible to ensure that there is no attack from the first tortoise,
who may have developed a territorial feeling for
the tank. Never put baby tortoises with adult tortoises.
So to prevent escapes, a comfortable and secure enclosure is
Don't turn tortoises over on their backs; this is psychologically
traumatic for them.
Look after your tortoises; they may soon become members of a
rare species. Due to constant, indiscriminate trapping, their
numbers are dwindling rapidly. It would be a great pity if such
beautiful, unique and fascinating reptiles were to become rare
or die out completely due to man's exploitation.
PAGE 1 PAGE 2 PAGE
Indoor Living Quarters: PAGE
4 PAGE 5 PAGE
6 PAGE 7 PAGE
8 PAGE 9
Outdoor Living Quarters: PAGE
Feeding: PAGE 11
Hibernation: PAGE 12
Ailments: PAGE 13
Behaviour and Intelligence: PAGE
How Old is the Tortoise? PAGE
Dangers: PAGE 15
Reproduction and Sexual Differences PAGE
References: PAGE 16