The eastern long-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) is an east Australian species of snake-necked turtle that inhabits a wide variety of water bodies and is an opportunistic feeder. It is a side-necked turtle (Pleurodire), meaning that it bends its head sideways into its shell rather than pulling it directly back. This specimen sighted in the Darebin Parklands in suburban Melbourne. A close-up of the head shows off the resemblance to a snake!
The species is found throughout south eastern Australia where it is found west of Adelaide (South Australia) eastwards throughout Victoria and New South Wales, and northwards to the Fitzroy River of Queensland. Where the species comes in contact with Chelodina canni they freely hybridise exhibiting hybrid vigour in the Styx River Drainage of Queensland.
The carapace is generally black in colour though some may be brown, it is broad and flattened with a deep medial groove. The scutes are edged in black in those individuals with a lighter background colour. The plastron is also very broad and is cream to yellow in colour with sutures edged in black. The neck is long and narrow, typical of the subgenus Chelodina, and reaches a length of approximately 60% of the carapace length. The neck has numerous small pointed tubercles and is grey to black in colour dorsally, cream below, as is the narrow head.
Females tend to grow to larger sizes and have deeper bodies. The maximum sizes recorded for females and males varies throughout the range, in river environments of the Murray it is 28.2 cm and 24.9 cm respectively, whereas in the Latrobe Valley it is 21.6 cm and 18.8 cm respectively. It is thought this is linked to productivity of the local environment.
When it feels threatened, this turtle will emit an offensive smelling fluid from its musk glands. This trait gives the turtle one of its other common names, "stinker". The eastern long-necked turtle is carnivorous, eating a variety of animals. This includes insects, worms, tadpoles, frogs, small fish, crustaceans, and molluscs.
In early summer, the female will lay between 2 and 10 eggs in the banks of her aquatic habitat. Three to five months later the hatchlings break out of their shells. These young turtles often fall prey to predators such as fish and birds. Females will lay 1 to 3 clutches of eggs per year.
Severe thunderstorms and wild weather batter the eastern side of Australia as cyclone 'Owen' hits the north. In Melbourne, the CBD recorded more than 32mm of rain yesterday, which led to flash flooding. Today, rainfalls were not as extreme in the morning, but in the afternoon the heavens opened again! Melbourne copped another soaking of rain, as workers ended the working week. Heavy rain, lightning and thunder rolled through the city at about 5pm, with persistent rain continuing into the evening. That's about a whole month's of rain in two days!
Lomandra (also known as mat rushes) is a genus of perennial herbs in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Lomandroideae. There are 51 species, all of which are native to Australia; two of them also extend into New Guinea and New Caledonia. It has formerly been assigned to the family Dasypogonaceae, Xanthorrhoeaceae or Liliaceae. They are generally tufted deciduous perennials with long narrow blade-like leaves that arise from a central stemless base and have thick woody rhizomes and fibrous roots.
The plant is often used for revegetation and erosion control. The starchy, fleshy bases of the leaves are edible, tasting of raw peas. Even when the roots are exposed it will cling tenaciously in poor soils. Indigenous Australians ground the seeds for use in damper, and the long, flat, fibrous leaves were used for weaving. The base of the leaves contains water, and was chewed by those in danger of dehydration.
The Queens Bridge is a historic road bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne, Victoria. The bridge was built in 1889 and has five wrought iron plate girder spans, and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The bridge was built by contractor David Munro, and replaced a timber footbridge built in 1860. The bridge is a very flat arch, and has five spans constructed of wrought iron plate girders. The bridge rests on iron cylinders filled with concrete, in groups of eight, with arched bracing between. It connects Market Street and William Street on the north bank to Queensbridge Street to the south. Trams on route 55 also cross the bridge.
Australia has nearly 200 known species of snake, only 25 of which are considered potentially deadly. Common snakes in the Melbourne area and surrounding suburbs include the Tiger Snake, Eastern Brown Snake, Copperhead Snake, White-Lipped Snake, Small-Eyed Snake and Red-Bellied Black Snake. There are over 27 types of snake in Victoria and a number of these are venomous, including the tiger snake, the copperhead, the brown snake and the red-bellied black snake.
Darebin Parklands is a nature reserve in the midst of inner suburban Melbourne. It has a host of animal species, many of them native that live happily in its confines. These creatures of course include snakes. Numerous signs relating to snakes are found throughout the Parklands, reminding people to take care during the Summer between the months of October to April.
I have seen snakes a number of times, in the Parklands and elsewhere, but fortunately these encounters have been innocent enough. While seeing a snake may be an intimidating experience, they are typically shy creatures and most will try to avoid confrontation with humans and quickly slither away (how quickly they can move is indeed a sobering experience).
The latest encounter was with a 1.2 m tiger snake that was crawling along the path, rushing to get to an area well-covered with grass and bushes. The day was very hot and the snake moved extremely quickly, rushing away from me towards cover. It was fortunate I had the camera in my hands and was able to take a few photos.
Tiger snakes are a highly venomous snake species found in the southern regions of Australia, including its coastal islands, such as Tasmania. These snakes are highly variable in their colour, often banded like those on a tiger, and forms in their regional occurrences. All populations are in the genus Notechis, and their diverse characters have been described in further subdivisions of this group; they are sometimes described as distinct species and/or subspecies.
Tiger snakes accounted for 17% of identified snakebite victims in Australia between 2005 and 2015, with four deaths recorded from 119 confirmed envenomations. Tiger snake venoms possess potent neurotoxins, coagulants, haemolysins, and myotoxins. Symptoms of a bite include localised pain in the foot and neck region, tingling, numbness, and sweating, followed by a fairly rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. In a study, the mortality rate from untreated bites is reported to be between 40 and 60%. The risk of being bitten by a snake or dying from a snake bite is extremely low. While highly variable, it is estimated that no more than 100 or 200 people each year get bitten by snakes in Victoria. Despite this, on average only one person every 5 years dies of a snake bite. The last recorded fatal snake bite in Victoria was by a tiger snake in November 2014. To put the risk of dying from a snake bite in perspective, consider that each year in Victoria about 40 people die from drowning in waterways and about 250 people die in car accidents.
Treatment is the same for all Australian venomous snakes. The pressure immobilisation method is used to inhibit the flow of venom through the lymphatic system. Broad, thick bandages are applied over the bite, then down and back along the limb to the armpit or groin. The affected limb is then immobilised with a splint. Identification of the venom is possible if traces are left near the wound.
The availability of antivenom has greatly reduced the incidence of fatal tiger snake bites. Among the number of deaths caused by snakebite in Australia, those from tiger snakes are exceeded only by the brown snake. In most Australian states, tiger snakes are protected species, and to kill or injure one incurs a fine up to $7,500, as well as a jail sentence of 18 months in some states. It is also illegal to export a native Australian snake.