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The Chelidae are a family of freshwater reptiles commonly known as the Austro-American Side-necked Turtles or Snake-necked Turtles. Members are distributed in Australia, New Guinea, and South America.


As the common name of "snake-necked turtles" implies, most species have unusually long and flexible necks. These allow the turtles to breathe from the surface while keeping most of their body submerged and away from potential predators. The alternative name of "side-necked turtles" refers to the fact that, like members of the related family Pelomedusidae, they cannot fully withdraw their heads into their shells, but instead fold it sideways under the edge of the upper part of the shell.

Snake-necked turtles are well adapted to life in fresh water, and are able to remain submerged for long periods of time. Their main diet consists of invertebrates such as insect larvae and crayfish, but they also eat small frogs and fish. Some species are omnivorous, adding water plants to their diet, and occasional fruit that fall into the water from overhanging branches.

Members of the family range in size from the Twist-necked turtle (Platemys platycephala) with an adult shell length of about to the matamata (Chelus fimbriatus), with a shell length of up to .


The family Chelidae contains approximately 40 species within 11 genera.

Suborder Pleurodira


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