Reptile Roundup

It’s Reptile Awareness Day, so we’re celebrating some of the unique reptiles that can be found in our Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit!

Published October 21, 2017

The pig-nosed turtle is native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea. 


This turtle is named for its elongated, swine-like snout, which acts as a snorkel, allowing the turtle to breathe while the rest of its body remains submerged. Their unusual nose is also equipped with sensory receptors to help locate prey in murky water or sand.

In addition to insects, crustaceans, worms and fish, these turtles feed on aquatic plants and the leaves, fruits and seeds of riverside vegetation. The pig-nosed turtle is almost entirely aquatic, with only the female leaving the water to nest. They inhabit rivers and streams, as well as lakes, swamps, lagoons and water holes. 

The spiny-tailed monitor is native to the northwestern part of Australia, in habitats ranging from tropics to red sand deserts. The monitor can grow up to 2 feet in length, with their tail about two or three times longer than their body.


As their name suggests, this long tail is full of spiny scales and serves a few important purposes. When threatened, spiny-tailed monitors can hide in rock crevices and use the spines on their tail to wedge themselves in, making it difficult for predators to dislodge them. 

Their tails are also useful in hunting. Spiny-tailed monitors are carnivores; juveniles feed primarily on insects, while adults eat smaller reptiles and mammals. 

To learn more about reptiles and other animals at the National Aquarium, visit! 

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