Cann's Longneck Turtle

Female Chelodina canni.
Scientific Classification
Species:C. (C.) canni
Binomial Name

Chelodina canni
McCord and Thomson, 2001

- Chelodina rankini Wells & Wellington, 1985 (nomen nudum)
- Chelodina canni McCord & Thomson, 2002

Cann's Snake Neck Turtle -- Chelodina canni

by Scott Thomson.

Photo by Bill McCord, from McCord and Thomson, 2002In 2002 Bill McCord and I described Cann's Snakeneck Turtle. This was basically the separating of the Australian and New Guinea populations of what was Chelodina novaeguineae or the New Guinea Snakeneck Turtle. We certainly were not the first to notice the differences between the species as Anders Rhodin did mention in his 1994 papers that the Australian and New Guinea forms differed in their skull morphology.

In the wild this species is restricted to Australia and is found throughout Northern Australia from the Roper regions of the Northern Territory to the Queensland coast and down to Rockhampton. It has a very small zone of overlap with the Eastern Longneck Turtle (Chelodina longicollis) where there is a known hybrid zone. These hybrids are viable and show hybrid vigour in the they are a larger and more dominant form than either of the parent species. An interesting note on the hybrids is that they all have deformities of the Entoplastron, I suspect this is caused by the major differences in growth of the anterior plastron between the parent species.

This species (and its sister species Chelodina novaeguineae are more than capable of producing very pungent odours. They are well know for this and the traditional names in three different areas all mean the same thing. The Gangalidda people near Old Doomadgee call the turtle "bungarra mali" which means "the stinking turtle", the people at Jinduckin call the turtle "nganymalin" which means "smelly armpit turtle" and the Goddala people of Balimo in New Guinea call C. novaeguineae "ipudinapi" which means "little smelly turtle". I would have to say the odour of a freshly caught C. canni is among the most nauseating smells produced by any species of turtle.

The pictures are of the holotype of Chelodina canni which is now in the Museum of the Northern Territory. Having kept this species I have found it to do best at high pH conditions in relatively shallow water. In the wild it lives in a variety of habitats from temporary to semi-permanent water holes to streams and dams.

To distinguish this species is relatively easy as it tends to have a broad head compared to other species of Chelodina. The large rounded carapace distinguishes it from Chelodina reimanni and Chelodina longicollis as well. Chelodina novaeguineae tends to be smaller in size and has a smaller head. Other more definitive methods can be obtained from the description (McCord and Thomson, 2002).

My recommended keeping methods for the species are identicle to the Chelodina longicollis care sheet that I previously published on the World Chelonian Trust website.

Major Reference:
McCord, W. and Thomson, S. (2002) A new species of Chelodina (Tesudines: Pleurodira: Chelidae) from Northern Australia. Journal of Herpetology 36(2):255-267.

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