Betsy the broad-shelled turtle
broad-shelled river turtle, side-necked turtle, broad-shelled snake-neck turtle
Chelodina expansa (more recently, Macrochelodina expansa)
The turtle returns … and lays her eggs
There's been a storm across the valley and the clouds are rolling in, so I've come out of the creek in my second attempt to lay eggs. (Read about my first attempt if you want to know what happened.) I've quickly found a suitable nest site, have dug a hole, and am now laying.
I will lay at least 5 eggs. They are chalky white, slightly marbled, somewhat flexible, and are about 4 centimetres (an inch-and-a-half) long. The hole has to be deep and wide enough to hold all the eggs, so I do the excavation work with my strong, clawed, back legs. Oh dear! Ants are crawling all over me. And people walking past are stopping to gawk at me. And I had to put up with a dog sniffing me.
I mix a milky protective body fluid with the soil I use to cover the eggs. The creamy sandy mixture you can see in the photo above is moist and slimy, and will nourish the eggs when I leave them.
Ooh — ahhh. If you were here you would hear me sigh every now and then as I deposit the eggs. It's very tiring doing all this work on land. I'm used to the buoyancy of the water in the creek — this land stuff is hard work, and so I have to rest after every movement I make.
Filling the hole
Whew! I've been at this for two hours, so now that the eggs are laid it's time to fill the hole and get back to the water.
I can't see my back legs, or the dirt, but I remember where I put them, so I shovel a foot-full of soil back into the hole at sporadic intervals. The specially prepared moist soil goes back first, then the rest of the dirt goes in to cover it.
After every few scoops, I lift my body and use my plastron (the underneath part of my shell) to drop down hard and flatten the soil.
Back to the creek
OK. That's a pretty neat job. Now it's time to head back to the creek.
It doesn't seem like much fun living on land. In the 2 hours and 15 minutes I've been here I've had to put up with ants walking all over me, inquisitive waterfowls staring at me, people with mobile phones taking photos of me, dogs sniffing me, and noisy miners using me as a prop to re-enact Alfred Hitchcock's horror movie The Birds.
Only a few more metres and I'll be back in the creek away from this madhouse. I'm glad there's no-one around to notice I've soiled the back of my carapace. I'll have to wash it off as soon as I get in the water.
Back home again
Splash! Back in the water at last. Hey it's good to be back home again. Sometimes this old creek feels like a long-lost friend.
I just hope my babies will be safe among all those land weirdos for six months or a year until they hatch.
Shhhhhh. The babies are sleeping.
— Betsy the broad-shelled turtle
The baby turtles hatch!
After 270 days, the baby turtles hatched. Read the story of the exciting discovery here.