Chelodina parkeri

Rhodin and Mittermeier, 1976
Parker's snake-necked turtle

This New Guinea species is closely related to Chelodina siebenrocki, but can be distinguished by its unique head pattern of light vermiculations. Its carapace is oval, flattened, and elongated (to 26.7 cm) with a smooth posterior border. Laterally it is nearly parallel. No medial keel or depression are present in adults. Vertebrals 1-4 are broader than long; the 1st is flared anteriorly and is the largest, and the 2nd to 5th decrease in size until the 5th is the smallest. The 5th is flared posteriorly, but is longer than broad. Neural bones are absent. The marginals are not flared. The carapace is uniformly brown to dark brown, or there may be some yellow reticulations along the anterior and posterior borders. The plastron is elongated and narrower than the carapacial opening. Its forelobe is anteriorly rounded and usually broader than the hindlobe, which tapers to the rear and has a shallow posterior notch. The plastral formula of three individuals examined was intergul > pect > abd > an > fem > hum > gul. The intergular is broad and not as elongated as in C. siebenrocki, being only about 1.5 times as long as broad. Both plastron and narrow bridge are cream to yellow. The broad head is elongated and flattened with a slightly protruding snout and an unnotched upper jaw. Its dorsal surface is covered with many small irregularly shaped scales. Usually only two small chin barbels are present, but the number is variable. The head is gray to dark brown with an extensive pattern of fine white, cream, yellow, or green vermiculated lines or dots. There is also a large, bright blotch on the midposterior surface of the tympanum. The neck is long and thick (about 75% of the carapace length), with small pointed tubercles on the dorsal surface. The forelimbs have several large transverse scales on the anterior surface. The dorsal surfaces of the neck and limbs are gray, the undersides are white to pink.
Males have longer, thicker tails and flatter shells than do females.

Parker's side-neck is endemic to New Guinea where it is restricted to the area surrounding Lakes Murray and Balimo and the Fly and Aramia rivers. Verified collection localities are restricted to the Western District's savannah regions north of the Fly River (Rhodin and Mittermeier, 1976).

Chelodina parkeri is restricted to large inland grass swamps in savannah areas; it inhabits the open edges of lakes and rivers where a dense growth of grass and aquatic vegetation occurs in shallow water. These areas are subject to periodic inundation and partial or complete drying during very dry seasons (Rhodin and Mittermeier, 1976).

Natural History
Nothing is known of its behavior in the wild. Fritz and Jauch (1989) reported on reproduction in captivity. They observed that head bobbing is the most characteristic courtship behavior by their captive male, but, once mounted, he also initiated snout to snout contact with the female. Sometimes the contact was only at her lower jaw.
The female produces two clutches of 8-11, nearly spherical (25.5-32.0 x 24.0-27.0 mm), eggs between November and February. After incubation at 27-33°C, the young hatched in about 90 days. Hatchlings averaged 35 mm in carapace length and 6 g in weight.
In captivity, Chelodina parkeri feeds on fish (Rhodin and Mittermeier, 1976).

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Vulnerable (D2).