I was in a zoo a few days ago and they had aquaria with various kinds of aquatic animals there. I went to have a look at them and what I immediately spotted something very familiar. “It’s Ton-chan!” Yes, there was Ton-chan there. Or rather, there were Ton-chans there since there were more than one of its species in that tank. I spent quite a while in front of that tank watching Ton-chans swim back and forth and I got the feeling that this is exactly what Azunyan and others did too. The only difference was that these Ton-chans were a tad bigger and accordingly so was the water tank ^^
Ton-chan is a New Guinean Pig-Nosed Turtle, sometimes also called Hog-nosed Turtle, or Fly River Turtle. Its scientific name is Carettochelys insculpta and it belongs to the superfamily of Trionychoidea (soft-shelled turtles). Ton-chan can grow up to 70 cm – you’ll need a new water tank again soon enough, Azunyan – and it can weigh over 20 kg. Unlike other soft-shelled turtles, Ton-chan retains bony carapace beneath its leathery skin. Ton-chan is omnivorous; besides insects and fruit, it can also devour the bodies of kangaroos and cattle and other dead animals.
Female Pig-nosed turtles don’t reach maturity until about 18 years old. They lay the eggs on sand banks during the dry season. The small turtles don’t hatch immediately but they hibernate inside the egg until the egg is flooded or the air-pressure decreases signalizing an approaching storm. The offspring turtles hatch together which gives them a better chance for survival and it makes it easier for them to dig out of the sand.
Pig-nosed turtles are available in pet shops, but their cost is quite high. Since they can grow a lot and they tend to get ill easily, they are recommended only for the experienced turtle keepers. They eat commonly sold pet food for turtles, as well as various kind of fruit, vegetables, and fish.