Red-bellied short-necked turtle
- Emydura subglobosa

Are you looking for an active and colorful turtle that does not need to spend the winter? So, the Red-bellied short-necked turtle is ideal for you!
Red-bellied short-necked turtle
Red-bellied short-necked turtle – Location taken: National Aquarium in Baltimore, Baltimore – Photo by David J. pole, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Origin / Distribution

The species had been described in 1876 by the director of the Sydney Natural History Museum, born in Brunswick, Johann Ludwig Gerard KREFFT, as Emydura subglobosa and in 1888 by BOULENGER as Emydura albertisii. For a long time the name given by BOULENGER was used. The specimens described as Emydura australis albertisii in the literature of a few years ago or still today in zoos they belong to the Emydura subglobosa. The two subspecies are distinguished subglobosa and worrelli.

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle (Emydura subglobosa) found on islands and rivers off the coast of Australia and New Guinea, like Fraser Island, the garden river, Daru, cape york, the Stradbroke Islands and the Torres Strait Islands. These turtles are also found in lowland swamps, covering large areas of the open tropical plains in western Papua New Guinea.

Characteristics / Appearance

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle owes its name to its purple-red ventral carapace, that fades with age. Shell, of up 26,5 cm length, it's rather flat, wider behind than in front, with a keel in juveniles and without it in adults. It is brown or gray, except marginal shields, whose edge and bottom are red.

The plastron is red, pink or yellow with a reddish lateral stripe. Bright yellow stripe over eye to ear is eye-catching. The neck is relatively short. the snout is pointed. There are two yellow barbels on the chin. Juveniles are more colorful than adults, males have more contrasting colored heads than females.

In many sea turtles, freshwater and terrestrial, the sex of the embryo is influenced by the incubation temperature. However, this is not the case for Australian chelids studied to date, lacking temperature-dependent sex determination.


Red-bellied short-necked turtle
Red-bellied short-necked turtle – Sweetsandz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The preferred habitat of the Red-bellied short-necked turtle are the rivers, swamps and ponds of Papua New Guinea and Australia. In the lower reaches of the Kikori and Omati rivers they inhabit slow-moving waters, seasonal wetlands and wetlands.

Like other freshwater turtles, the Red-bellied short-necked turtle alternate periods in the water with sunny time to increase body temperature. Most of their life is spent in the water, where they look for food. If there is a shortage of water in the warmer months, move to flooded areas.


The Red-bellied short-necked turtle swims and sunbathes to control internal body temperature. During the sunbathing process, tears go down the side of the turtle's head and enter the mouth as it opens and closes, what are known as gular movements. Wheezing and foaming at the mouth have been observed, although it is more common in Emydura macquarii than in the other Emydura species. Wetting the head or limbs, removing limbs from heat exposure and changing breathing patterns are mechanisms that prevent overheating

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle snap and bite when threatened, causing painful wounds. They stick their heads in while tilting their shell towards predators to reduce damage to soft body parts.

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle has highly developed senses, necessary for communication and perception. These senses help them locate food, avoid predators and find a mate during the breeding season. Studies have shown that these freshwater turtles can communicate with each other through a wide range of vocalizations that are too soft for humans to hear.. Evidence also suggests that echolocation may evolve to find prey., in addition to being used to obtain a three-dimensional image of the turtle pond).

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle, like other freshwater turtles, has a nictitating membrane (transparent third eyelid) for underwater vision. Your sense of smell is achieved through your nose and a specialized Jacobsen's organ., that identifies chemical residues floating in the air and water.

Although turtles do not have an external ear hole, they have an eardrum that is covered with skin and can detect low-frequency vibrations underwater and on land. Red-bellied short-necked turtles have four scent glands in their shell. These glands produce a scent as a defense against predators and between competing males during the breeding season.. They communicate with potential mates through extensive courtship ceremonies that include bobbing their heads as they align their bodies..


The Red-bellied short-necked turtle it is omnivorous and feeds on filamentous algae, perifiton, sponges, aquatic macrophytes, aquatic macroinvertebrates, terrestrial insects falling into the water and carrion. These turtles also rely heavily on mollusc crushing., fish, insects, worms, aquatic plants, plant matter and seeds as part of your daily life.


During the breeding season, males communicate with females with a series of signaling postures, including a combination of simultaneous caresses, blinking eyes and swinging of the head.

In the Red-bellied short-necked turtle, females have a large area inside their shell to store eggs, while the males have a larger tail. Ovulation and nesting begin in early spring. Only female turtles come out of the water at night or first thing in the morning to lay eggs in hollow cavities built into sand or soil.. Females lay eggs in about an hour.

These turtles can produce two to four clutches a year., laying four to eleven eggs each time, with an average of 7 eggs in each clutch. The eggs hatch and hatch in the next dry season, between July and August.

Threats to the species

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle It is listed as a species of least concern by the UICN. However, isolated populations may occur in arid regions throughout their range and have long times to sexual maturity. This combination leads some associations to think that a preventive conservation program should be applied. Increasing anthropogenic threats also pose a threat.

Human predation includes the collection of eggs and the capture of adult turtles as a local food source..

The "Red-bellied short-necked turtle" in captivity


For the maintenance and care of the Red-bellied short-necked turtle, an aquaterrarium with a rim length of at least 150 cm.. This aquaterrarium must have an aquatic part and a terrestrial part for the benefit of the animals. The water part must be very large and offer swimming animals a lot of free space. Other decorations would only unnecessarily restrict the turtles' swimming space and, Therefore, are not necessary.

The Red-bellied short-necked turtle he is a peaceful and friendly creature. They can be kept as a couple or in a group without problems..

They prefer water temperatures between 22 and 28 degrees centigrade and a pH value between 6 and 8. A UV lamp must be installed for the turtles to sunbathe. It is important that turtles always stay in clean water. Animals are native to tropical and subtropical regions. They don't go into hibernation.


The duration of illumination is always given as twelve hours, because in the natural range the length of the day hardly changes over the course of the year. December is hotter than July, which is easy to explain: The red-bellied pointy-headed turtle comes from the southern hemisphere, and the seasons there shift half a year, compared to our seasons in the northern hemisphere.

However, it makes sense to care for these aquatic turtles according to our seasons, that is to say, shift temperatures half a year. In this way, heating costs are reduced in winter and also less water evaporates in winter (danger of mold!).

In summer, animals should be kept at a water temperature slightly lower than the 30 °C, while in spring and autumn temperatures of about 26-27 °C. This species does not hibernate, so it is enough to lower the temperatures to 25°C to simulate winter.


The Red-bellied short-necked turtle it is a species that feeds in a mixed way and to which the full range of foods of animal origin can be offered, but plant-based foods should also be on the menu. However, the emphasis is clearly on foods of animal origin.

These aquatic turtles also like to eat creek fleas, various mosquito larvae and insects (like crickets).


Both sexes of this turtle reach sexual maturity with a carapace length of between 14 and 16 cm.. Smaller specimens are assumed to be sexually mature with 12 cm of shell length.

In New Guinea, egg laying takes place in August and October, and is often dispersed throughout the year in captive breeding. A clutch usually consists of five to eleven eggs and is laid at a depth of five to 15 cm.. In the Red-bellied short-necked turtle, three to four clutches may occur per year.

The Emydura subglobosa belongs to the group of aquatic turtles with genetic sex fixation, that is to say, sex is not influenced by breeding temperature. At a rearing temperature of 25-30 °C, The young are born after 50 a 80 days.

Buy one "Red-bellied short-necked turtle"

Occasionally, the Red-bellied short-necked turtle are offered in pet stores. The specimens offered in the pet shop are usually European pups. However, it is more advisable to buy this beautiful tortoise from a breeder. Since this turtle is comparatively easy to breed, there are some breeders.

Its price ranges from 80 – 100 EUR.

Videos "Red-bellied short-necked turtle"

Alternative names:

    1. Red-bellied short-necked turtle, Pink-bellied side-necked turtle, Jardine River turtle (English).
    2. Tortue à ventre rouge, Emydure à ventre rouge (French).
    3. Rotbauch-Spitzkopfschildkröte (German).
    4. Tartaruga-de-barriga-vermelha, Tartaruga de barriga vermelha e pescoço curto (Portuguese).
    5. "Tortuga de cuello corto", Tortuga de cuello corto de vientre rojo, Tortuga de cuello lateral de vientre rosado, tortuga del río Jardine, Tortuga payaso (español).

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