Roti Island snake-necked turtle

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Roti Island snake-necked turtle
Chelodina mccordi at the Columbus Zoo-2011 07 11 IMG 0644.JPG
Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Chelidae
Subfamily: Chelodininae
Genus: Chelodina
Subgenus: Chelodina
Species: C. mccordi
Binomial name
Chelodina mccordi
Rhodin, 1994[1]
  • Chelodina mccordi Rhodin, 1994
  • Chelodina timorensis McCord et al., 2007
Rote Island Snaked-Neck Turtle at Rotterdam Zoo

The Roti Island snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi) is an extremely threatened turtle species from Rote Island in Indonesia.

Chelodina mccordi timorensis, a subspecies of it, living on East Timor, is sometimes considered as its own species, called the Timor snake-neck turtle (Chelodina timorensis). It belongs to the genus Chelodina (Australian snake-necked turtles) within the Chelidae family (side-necked turtles).

Chelodina mccordi roteensis, another subspecies, is confined to two lakes in Landu Leko district in the north of Rote, including Lake Undun.[4]


The Roti Island snake-necked turtle was split from the New Guinea snake-necked turtle and regarded as distinct species in 1994 after Dr. Anders Rhodin, director of the Chelonian Research Foundation in Lunenburg (Massachusetts), found out that there are differences between the two species. The first snake-necked turtles on Rote Island were discovered in 1891 by George Albert Boulenger. They were named for Dr. William McCord, a veterinary and turtle expert from Hopewell Junction, New York.

The carapace can reach a length between 18 and 24 centimetres. The length of the neck is similar. The color of the carapace is pale grey brown. Occasionally there are also specimens which have a chestnut coloured hue. The plastron is pale buff white. The neck is dark brown on the upperparts with round tubercles. The underparts are beige white. The iris is black surrounded by a white ring. Its habitat are swamps, rice terraces, and small lakes.


A clutch can consist of eight to fourteen eggs and it can have three breeding periods in one year. The size of the eggs is 30×20mm and the weight can reach eight to ten grams. The first hatchlings come after three months, the last after four months. When they hatch they have a size of 28×20mm and they have yellow spots on the plastron which become darker with the time until the plastron becomes almost black after a few weeks. During the growing period the coloring becomes more pale until they finally reach the color of the adults.


The Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle is one of the most desired turtles in the international pet trade. Even before it was scientifically described it was so over-collected that the legal trade was prohibited in 2001 due to its rarity. The two or three remaining populations live in an area of only 70km² in the central highlands of Rote Island. It is still illegally captured and it is often offered on markets under the label of the New Guinea Snake-necked Turtle which is also legally protected. In 2004 it was listed in Appendix II of CITES.

Outside of capture by humans there are few natural threats to this species. There are some reports of predation by feral pigs (Sus Scrofa)[5] and loss of habitat, however illegal capture and trade remains the primary threat.


  1. ^ Rhodin AGJ. 1994b. Chelid turtles of the Australian archipelago: II. A new species of Chelodina from Roti Island, Indonesia. Breviora 498: 1-31.
  2. ^ Peter Paul van Dijk, John B. Iverson, H. Bradley Shaffer, Roger Bour, and Anders G.J. Rhodin. 2012. Turtles of the World, 2012 Update: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 000.243–000.328.
  3. ^ Georges, A. & Thomson, S. 2010. Diversity of Australasian freshwater turtles, with an annotated synonymy and keys to species. Zootaxa 2496: 1–37.
  4. ^ Eisemberg, C. C. Costa, B. G. Guterres, E. C. Reynolds, S. J. & Christian, K.: Assessment of Chelodina mccordi current status and community awareness along the Lake Iralalaro, Timor-Leste, Report to the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Turtle Conservation Fund, and Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, by the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, 2014.
  5. ^ World Wildlife WWF-Indonesia TRAFFIC Report

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