30 cm


30 kg


20 years

The New Guinea snapping turtle is similar to other turtles of its genus. They live most of their lives in the water, coming out to lay eggs and rarely more.

General characteristics

The New Guinea snapping turtle is olive-coloured with a yellow line running from the tip of the nose to the iris. Its upper jaw is protruding and is accompanied by two yellow whiskers coming from its chin. All its limbs, as well as its tail, carapace and the entire abdominal area are marked with red. This red colour tends to turn pinkish over time.


This species of turtle is omnivorous, that is, it eats everything. Its main foods include algae, sponges and terrestrial insects that fall into the water, among others.

They use both their jaws and forelegs to tear food, and their tongues to slide food around.


To avoid overheating, when they are too exposed to the sun they tend to wet their heads and limbs.

As a defence mechanism, New Guinea snapping turtles snap and bite, and can cause serious injury. To protect themselves as much as possible from predators, they hide their heads and limbs in their shells, thus leaving the smallest soft part of their bodies within reach of predators. 


They usually mate throughout the year, but especially in spring and autumn. The gestation period lasts between two and four months.

Only the females come out of the water to lay their eggs in the sand. Once laid, they return to the water and leave the eggs unprotected on the surface. When the eggs hatch, the turtles must reach the water without any protection.


This species is not endangered. A preventive conservation programme has been considered, although it is not entirely necessary at the moment.

Its main predators include foxes, domestic cats, water rats and crows.


It is found on islands and rivers off the coast of Australia and New Guinea. They can also be found in the lowland swamps that cover large areas of the tropical and open plains of western Papua New Guinea.. 

They often alternate from being in the water to being under the sun in order to increase their body temperature as they are cold-blooded animals.

Did you know? 

They place the neck and head on the side, below the upper edge of the shell.

They like wet places, so they are easy to find in rivers, marshes and ponds.

Unlike other turtles, in this case the sex of the embryos is not influenced by temperature during incubation.

Conservation status