Fitzroy River Turtle nesting report for 2017

Early December marks the end of nesting season for Central Queensland’s vulnerable Fitzroy River Turtle and 2017 has been an excellent year for nest protection.

Starting in early September, female Fitzroy River Turtles come to nest and lay their eggs in the sandy banks of the Fitzroy River. Found no-where else in Australia, and listed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act and Nature Conservation Act as vulnerable, FBA is proud to support Greening Australia who run yearly projects to protect and monitor nests.
This year 90 nests were protected from foxes, cats and wild dogs, and project officer Kymberly Robinson reports this has resulted in an excellent survival rate for eggs.
“With an average of 16-20 eggs per nest we expect between 1500-1800 hatchlings will make it to the river,” says Kymberly.
The next challenge for hatchlings is surviving their first trip to water and then the first years of life in the river. Females who live to adulthood are expected to breed and return sometime after 2032 (it takes a Fitzroy River Turtle at least 15 years to reach breeding maturity) to lay their first clutch of eggs.

5 other facts about the Fitzroy River Turtle (FRT)

  1. FRT’s are only found in the Fitzroy River catchment making them ‘endemic’ to the region.
  2. FRTs are ‘omnivores’ meaning they eat plants (like river weeds and algae) as well as animals (insects and snails).
  3. Many turtles have the ability to breath through their cloaca ‘breathing through the bum’. FRTs can take between 15-60 bum breaths / minute!
  4. Baby FRTs hatch at the size of a 20 cent coin (and have been known to travel over 40 metres from their nest to reach water).
  5. Female FRTs lay between 12-20 eggs per nest. While they may lay up to 5 clutches, many only lay one clutch per year.

Learn more about the Fitzroy River Turtle and its cousins this Christmas by visiting FLOW over the school holidays. Entry is free, and turtle facts and models are just a few of the curious things you’ll find!

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