Animal Myths & Legends home Animal Myths & Legends  
Home - Animals Myths & Legends Legends - Myths,Legends,Fables,Stories Fun Stuff - Games & Puzzles Animals - Facts & Stories People of the Legends - Indigenous people of the legends  
Animal Myths & Legends

Legends List

What is the difference between myths, legends and fables?

About Aboriginal Dreamtime



Oban's Myths & Legends

How Tortoise Lost His Tail and Teeth (continued)
Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime Legend
retold by Oban

Oban the Knowledge Keeper

The people did as they promised and the medicine man’s spirit set off on his journey. When he reached the river he climbed a tree and watched as other souls arrived and tried to cross the river on the tortoise’s tail. Each time the animal shook them off, and they were swept away in the water.

The medicine man climbed down again. Moving as lightly as the wind, he ran across the bank and out onto the giant tail. The tortoise tried to shake him off, but the medicine man was too fast. He jumped onto the enormous shell, spun round and cut off the tail with his axe.

The tortoise reared up on its back legs, twisted round and fell sideways, rolling the medicine man underneath its body. But the man wriggled out and jumped away. Then he used his axe again and cut off the head with its sharp teeth. Glad that the fight was over, the medicine man sat down for a moment on the riverbank.

He realized that souls arriving on the other side still needed a way to cross the river. He looked at the trees nearby and chopped down one with a tall, straight trunk. It fell, making a safe bridge across the river.

The body of the tortoise was still quivering in its shell, and the medicine man felt sorry for the animal. He believed that the great spirits had forced it to act the way it had. It wasn’t the animal’s fault.

He looked round and saw a snake curled on the ground, disturbed by the tree being cut down. It lashed its tail and flicked its tongue at him. The medicine man cut off the snake’s head, picked it up and cut out the poison fangs with the tip of the axe blade. Then he held the head against the tortoise’s neck, and using his healing powers, joined it onto the animal’s body.

Finally he healed the wound where he’d cut off the tortoise’s tail. He didn’t want to reconnect the long tail and risk the animal being used by the great spirits again. So he formed a neat stump under the animal’s shell.

And that is why the tortoise has a head like a snake, with no teeth, and a short, stumpy tail.

The End

Tell me again