Chelodina timorensis McCord et al., 2007

Kaiser, Hinrich, Carvalho, Venancio Lopes, Ceballos, Jester, Freed, Paul, Heacox, Scott, Lester, Barbara, Richards, Stephen J., Trainor, Colin R., Sanchez, Caitlin & O'Shea, Mark, 2011, The herpetofauna of Timor-Leste: a first report, ZooKeys 109, pp. 19-86 : 48

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scientific name

Chelodina timorensis McCord et al., 2007


Chelodina timorensis McCord et al., 2007 Fig. 28 View Figure 28

Common names.

(E) Timor Snake-necked Turtle. *(T) Lenuk kakorok ular (lenuk = turtle, kakorok = neck, ular = snake).


Snake-necked turtles are easily distinguished by their long serpentine necks ( Fig. 28 View Figure 28 Lower), which are fully as long as the entire carapace and which permit the turtle to reach anywhere on its body.

Collection and natural history.

During our survey we had heard that local villagers occasionally keep live specimens of this protected snake-necked turtle as status symbols or for trade, a clear contravention of the CITES protocols and an important reason why the government of Timor-Leste is considering acceding to the CITES treaty. The turtle has a highly restricted distribution in Lake Ira Lalaro near the easternmost point of Timor-Leste. The lake itself is primarily seasonal, with water exiting the lake through the Irasequiro River. The river itself does not reach the ocean but disappears beneath an extensive limestone karst escarpment, the Paitxau Range (max. elevation at Mt. Paitxau, 925 m). During our visit we inquired about the availability of a snake-necked turtle for photography, and we learned about a turtle that could be photographed. We declined to purchase the turtle but offered US$ 5 for being given the opportunity to take photographs, in a symbolic gesture and specifically to prove that a living turtle could realize revenue without being traded. This population is closely related to the Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle ( Chelodina mccordi ; Kuchling et al. 2007; McCord et al. 2007).

Taxonomic comment.

Even though McCord et al. (2007) described the Lake Ira Lalaro snake-necked turtle population as a distinct species, this decision was not without controversy (see Kuchling et al. 2007), and the new species was not recognized as an acceptable name by the CITES committee. However, the population is still protected as an endangered species under CITES Appendix II. Kuchling et al. (2007) described this population as Chelodina mccordi timorlestensis .