Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi)

*** Update: Read about the outcomes of our proposals at CoP16.

CITES Status | Taxonomy | Description | Habitat | Distribution | Threats


CITES Status


Credit: Silvain de Munck CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Appendix II since 2005.  Proposed pdf by the United States for uplisting to Appendix I at CoP16.


Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Chelidae
Genus: Chelodina
Species: mccordi


The Roti Island snake-necked turtle is a moderate-sized freshwater species. The carapace (top shell) has a distinctive light gray-brown or a darker chestnut brown color. The plastron (bottom shell) is relatively broad and light yellowish to white in color. Females are larger than males and reach a carapace length of up to 24cm (9.4 in).


The Roti Island snake-necked turtle inhabits permanent and semi-permanent shallow inland lakes and swamps that are rich in nutrients. These lakes and swamps are located on the inland highland plateau areas and adjacent rice paddies and irrigation ditches.  Within Roti Island, these turtles are not known to occur in the seasonal streams that drain towards the coast. Nor are they found in the in coastal areas, brackish estuarine or mangrove habitat.  According to the local people of East Timor, the population can be found in many of the seasonal wetlands as well as creeks running into the lake and the river.


The Roti Island snake-necked turtle occurs only on Roti Island, Indonesia and on East Timor, Timor-Leste. Roti Island has two separate populations, one each in the west and east. The larger western population is distributed in the relatively mesic (moderately moist habitat) southwestern and mid-central inland plateau portion of the main part of the island and extends sparsely to the southwest to include slightly lower elevation areas. The smaller eastern population is disjunct (separated from other populations) and occurs on the relatively isolated northeastern Lake Enduy and along the southeastern edge of the marine bay that partially separates the Tapuafu peninsula form the rest of Roti Island.


The greatest threat to the species is intensive harvest for the international pet trade; this drove the species to near extinction in only a decade of collecting.  On Roti Island, other threats include habitat modification, predation by pigs, and the use of chemical pesticides. Agricultural land conversion has gradually eliminated much of the species’ habitat.  Habitat threats have also been identified in Timor-Leste, where locals burn agricultural areas to facilitate planting of crops.

Additional Information

  • Check out our fact sheet to learn how CITES can help protect Roti-island snake necked turtles.
  • Read the proposal pdf submitted by the United States and China for consideration at CoP16.
  • To learn about the unsustainable turtle trade and CITES' efforts to regulate it, read Shell-Shocked: Trade in Turtles Threatens Species pdf, an article published in the Winter 2013 Issue of FWS News.
  • To read the entire FWS News spotlight on CITES, visit our Articles page.