Cann's snake-necked turtle
Physical description
Binomial name'''C. C. canni'''
Scientific classification
SpeciesChelodina Chelodina canni
McCord & Thomson, 2002[1]
Chelodina canni dist

Cann's snake-neck turtle (Chelodina canni McCord & Thomson 2002[1]) is an Australian species found in the northern and north eastern parts of the continent. It has a narrow zone of hybridization with its related species the Eastern Snake Neck Turtle Chelodina longicollis. For many years this species was assumed to be the same species as Chelodina novaeguineae from New Guinea, however recently it has been shown that these two species differed both morphologically and genetically. Hence it was separated off and described as a unique species in 2002.


Order: Testudines Linnaeus, 1758
Suborder: Pleurodira Cope, 1864
Family: Chelidae Ogilby, 1905
Subfamily: Chelodininae Georges et al., 1998[2]

Type data.- Holotype: NTM 24515; an adult female (carapace length, CL = 215.3mm; carapace width, CW8 = 167.2mm), preserved in alcohol; collected with the help of local aboriginal people at Malogie Waterhole, near Scarlet Hill on Kalala Station (16° 08' S, 133° 36' E), Northern Territory, Australia.

Etymology.- This species is named in honour of John Cann of Sydney, Australia for his lifetime of work with the freshwater turtles of Australia.

Taxonomic History- For many years this species was considered to be a secondary and disjunct population of Chelodina novaeguineae Boulenger, 1888[3]. In recent years many started to believe that this was not the case. An attempt to describe it as Chelodina rankini was made by Wells and Wellington (1985)[4] however this was shown to be a nomen nudem by Iverson et al., 2001[5], the species was finally described by William McCord and Scott Thomson in 2002.



Adult female Chelodina canni

Adults can be diagnosed by the wide, rounded carapace with a moderately deep midvertebral trough; a median carapacial keel either absent or minimal, being most observable in the eastern populations; a wide plastron with dark seams on an otherwise uniformly yellow plastron; first and second marginal scutes equal or nearly equal in dorsal surface area; wide head with a red to pink suffusion on the head, neck, and limbs; and bluntly pointed neck tubercles. Hatchlings have an extensive orange-red ventral head, neck, and plastral pattern extending well onto the dorsal aspect of the marginal scutes.



Juvenile Chelodina canni

Chelodina canni is known from the Roper River drainage (including Maria Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria) in Northern Territory, eastward through the drainages of the Gulf of Carpentaria in north west Queensland. In Cape York it is found in drainages from Cairns in the north down to Rockhampton in the south where a narrow hybrid zone with Chelodina longicollis is found (Georges et al., 2002[6])


  1. 1.0 1.1 McCord, W. and Thomson, S. (2002) A new species of Chelodina (Tesudines: Pleurodira: Chelidae) from Northern Australia. Journal of Herpetology 36(2):255-267.
  2. Georges A, Birrell J, Saint K, McCord WP, Donnellan S. 1998. A phylogeny for side-necked turtles (Chelonia: Pleurodira) based on mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 67: 213-246.
  3. Boulenger, G.A. 1888. On the chelydoid chelonians of New Guinea. Annals Museo Civico di Storia Naturale de Genova. (2)6:449-452
  4. Wells R, Wellington R. 1985. A classification of the Amphibia and Reptilia of Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series 1: 1-61.
  5. Iverson, J., Thomson, S. and Georges, A. 2001. Validity of the taxonomic changes for turtles proposed by Wells and Wellington. Journal of Herpetology. 35:365-368.
  6. Georges A, Adams M, McCord W. 2002. Electrophoretic delineation of species boundaries within the genus Chelodina (Testudines: Chelidae) of Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 134 (4): 401-422

External linksEdit

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