Western Swamp Tortoise – Factsheet

The Western Swamp Tortoise is AUSTRALIA’S MOST ENDANGERED REPTILE.

They were believed to be extinct for over 100 years until they were rediscovered by a fifteen year old school boy in 1953.

What do they look like?

They are about as big as your hand and look like this.

Tortoise-in-oval-fade

So cute!

Animated turtle

How many are there?

There are less than 50 adult tortoises tortoises living in the wild today.

Where do they live?

They are found in two small wetlands only. The Twin Swamps and Ellen Brook Nature Reserve in the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia.

These habitats cover 5.5 kilometers square altogether – approximately one quarter the size of Rottnest Island !

What is threatening them?

The tiny area they live in has been reduced even further by draining and filling to make way for market gardens and roads.

fox

The Western Swamp Tortoise hybernates during the hot dry months and are particularly susceptible to predators during this time, especially introduced species such as cats and foxes.

feral-cat

Breeding age is not reached until eight years old and eggs are dependent on early winter rains. If the rains don’t come, the babies won’t survive.

Conservation Efforts

In 1988 a breeding program was set up at the Perth Zoo. Since then, many tortoises have been successfully bred and released into the wild and their remaining habitat is now protected.

For more information about the breeding program go to Perth Zoo.

The protected wetlands are now lined with electric fences to keep out foxes, dogs and other predators.

During the winter months, if rainfall is low, water is pumped into the area to ensure the hatchlings have enough water and food.

WST1How can you help?

Report any sightings.

Talk to your teachers and friends about it. Show them this blog.

Stop water table reduction by SAVING WATER at home and at school.

Prevent bush fires.

Contact Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise and ask them to visit your school.

For more information and contact details go to Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise