Giant Snakeneck Turtle

Featured Creature: Giant Snake-Necked Turtle

At the Tennessee Aquarium there are three species of Side-neck Turtles in one tank, but the largest one is known as the "Giant Snake-neck Turtle." Bill Hughes, a herpetologist at the Tennessee Aquarium explained that side-necks live in Africa, South America, and Australia. Giant Snake-neck turtles live in Australia.

"They can't actually pull their heads in their shell like the turtles we have here. What they do instead is tuck their neck to the side," said Hughes. "The snake-necks are kind of the extreme of the side-necks because as their name implies, they have really long necks."

The neck is almost the same length as its body. Typically turtles use their ability to tuck their necks in as a defense mechanism, but since side-necks cannot, they have other characteristics to help keep them safe. Those webbed feet also help these turtles swim fast to either get away from predators or catch prey. The long necks also help them grab food.

Giant Snake-necks breathe air, but Hughes said they do not have to gulp air very often: "they can stay down for a while but that is going to depend on the water temperature. If it is cooler, they can stay down longer without coming up, but if it is cooler and they are less active, they are using less oxygen so they can stay down longer."

There are many holiday programs at the Tennessee Aquarium including the PJs & Polar Express 3D and Holidays Under the Peaks which includes SCUBA Claus.

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