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Western Swamp Tortoise as Totem by Ravenari Western Swamp Tortoise as Totem by Ravenari
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Western Swamp Tortoise as Totem

Meanings - SPECIFICS

Specifics, needing very specific environments and circumstances within which to thrive, resist pressure to be anything other than yourself, wetland and swamp magic, needing extended times of relaxation or dormancy, being grounded, patience, taking it slow, longevity, wisdom accrued from experience, needing the support of others to get by, a connection to Western Australia, coming alive when connected to sunlight, keep your feet on the ground, tenacity, finding yourself disadvantaged by your own habits.


The western swamp tortoise (western swamp turtle) is a Critically Endangered, short-necked, small freshwater tortoise endemic to south-west Western Australia. Females are smaller than males, and neither grows longer than 15.5 centimetres in length. Their colouring depends on their age and environment, though they are typically grey above and cream/black below. They have short legs, with well-developed claws and scale-like scutes. Their head has a single, large scute. They are the smallest tortoise/turtle found in Australia. They are long-lived; with females being capable of breeding for around 60-70 years. They are carnivorous, taking insects, larvae, crustaceans, tadpoles and earthworms.

They are found in shallow, periodic swamps that fill after autumn rains; on clay or sand-on-clay soils. They mate in the water. Females use energy acquired during active periods to create eggs during aestivation. They aestivate in burrows for six months of the year. Nesting occurs in daylight, often on cloudy days. They are threatened by restricted range, cleared land, urban/industrial development, predation by native and feral animals, increasing aridity due to global warming, poor fire-burning strategies and the draining of wetlands. They are also disadvantaged by their low fertility and slow growth rates. They are only recorded in scattered or fragmented populations on the Swan Coastal Plain from Perth Airport to the Pearce Royal Australian Air Force Base in Bullsbrook. Most of their range has been cleared, urbanised or farmed intensively. They have home ranges, but their natural home ranges are often larger than the reserves they are contained within. They only have a single viable wild population, with approximately 30 individuals in the site (an increase from the 8 breeding adults recorded in 1979 to 1982). There are captive breeding projects (like that at Perth Zoo) designed to breed and re-release these rare tortoises.


Uranimated18 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2016   Traditional Artist
What a cool creature!
Jagabor Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012
I love the shine of the shell. Very well done
Ravenari Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you <3
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Submitted on
June 21, 2012
Image Size
9.0 MB
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