AN AUSTRALIAN turtle has been getting a taste of its homeland here in 1066 Country – with aquarium staff dishing out a diet of kangaroo steaks.
The freshwater turtle, named Blackberry, had been regularly turning its pig-nose up at its feed of formulated pellets, fruit, vegetables and creepy crawlies. However, keepers researching the pig-nose species found they also occasionally eat kangaroo meat in the wild and, after finding a local stockist, decided to spread a little spirit of the Outback.
Blue Reef’s Kate Buss explained: “A colleague mentioned that in the wild they will also eat meat.
“They don’t hunt kangaroo but will scavenge any they may come across in lakes and rivers. We managed to source some kangaroo steaks from Arcade Butchers here in Hastings, and she absolutely loves it.”
The freshwater turtle, which is found in New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia, gets its name from its curiously shaped snout.
And, among the bizarre-looking turtle’s other unusual features are paddle-like front flippers closely resembling those of their distant cousins, the sea turtles.
Fully grown, the turtles can weigh nearly 23 kilograms and reach lengths in excess of half-a-metre.
Despite having only recently been discovered in Australia, Aboriginal rock paintings dating back 7,000 years suggest that they, or a species very much like them, have actually lived on the continent for thousands of years.
However, in the wild populations are under threat from all directions – including humans. Both the adults and the eggs are considered delicacies and the turtles are also vulnerable to getting crushed by feral herds of water buffalo.
Blackberry may be safely tucked away in a 1066 Country tank, but staff are determined to keep on serving up slices of her homeland. “We’re only giving her small amounts,” said Miss Buss, “And she’s having to fight off the fish in his display to get to it, but it’s proved a real success.
“Apparently, the meat is high in protein and very low in fat and has been eaten by Aboriginal Australians for centuries.”