Carettochelys is perhaps the most highly aquatic of all freshwater turtles, and has its limbs modified into flippers similar to those seen in marine turtles. Males spend their entire lives in the water, and females only emerge to lay eggs on sand banks at the start of the dry season. Although they spend the majority of their time in fresh water, they have been known to enter brackish water or fully marine environments in search of food. As with many turtles, Carettochelys is mainly herbivorous, feeding ona variety of aquatic plants, plus fruit and foliage that falls into the water. It will also feed on carrion however, and will also catch larger aquatic invertebrates. It needs a lot of food, as it can grow to a considerable size (over 60cm has been recorded), although females mature at around 30cm. To obtain this, they range over large areas, with a single individual being recorded has having a home range of 10km of river.
|C.insculpta in habitat|
|Newly hatched C.insculpta|
With its aquatic lifestyle, captive care of Carretochelys is somewhat different to other turtles. At Bristol we have three which live in one of the large tanks in the Aquarium, which they share with various large Asian fish. At present ours are only around 20cm shell length, so they have some time before they are large enough to breed. At that size, we will have to take steps to provide them with a nesting beach, assuming we have a pair (males and females are identical when young). For an account of how are animals were bred at Rotterdam zoo, see the link below.
(Images from Wikipedia, Arkive)
Further reading: The Ecology and sex determination of the Pig-Nosed Turtle, Carettochelys insculpta, in the wet-dry tropics of Australia.J.Sean Doody http://www.canberra.edu.au/centres/iae/pdfs/2002_Doody_PhD_thesis.pdf
Breeding Caretochelys at Rotterdam Zoo: http://www.scribd.com/doc/59957555/Reproduction-of-the-Pig-nosed-Turtle