The Mary River turtle comes from Queensland, Australia and represents one of the most unique and striking creatures on this planet. As of recently, also one of the most endangered.

This amazing turtle is found only in the Mary River in Queensland, has 40-50 cm carapace length, the tail is two-thirds of the length of the carapace, has green Mohican algae growing on its head, finger-like growths under the chin, and the amazing ability to breathe through its genitals.

Photo courtesy: Chris Van Wyk

Its unique ability to breathe underwater is due to a gill-like organ within the cloaca (the cloaca is an orifice used for excretion and mating in reptiles). This allows the turtle to stay underwater up to 3 days.

This turtle has a very docile nature which made it a very popular pet. The turtle became popular as a pet in the 1960s and the 1970s, when around 15 000 turtles were sold in pet shops every year.

The Mary river turtle is now placed on the 30th spot on the ZSL’s Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered list of reptiles.

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