A rare Vietnamese box turtle has been hatched at Bristol Zoo in the UK. It is only the second zoo in history that has hatched Vietnamese box turtles in European.
Currently the tiny tortoise tips the scales at 14.6grams and is the size of a matchbox.
After 85 days of incubation in the egg the baby was hatched in a quarantine room at the zoo where it will spend the first few weeks of its life. Once this precious youngster is old enough he will take up residence in Bristol Zoo’s purpose built Asian Turtle Breeding Room in the zoo’s reptile house.
The Zoo is excited with the birth since they have kept the species for 12 years and only bred it once before. Tim Skelton the zoo’s curator reptiles shared his excitement, “This is a very difficult species to breed so I am thrilled with the arrival of this baby; it comes after a lot of hard work.”
The zoo last had a hatchling of this species in 2012. That hatchling is now thriving on his diet of snails, worms and chopped fruit.
Tom explained some of the zoo’s future plans, “Little is known about this species so we can learn an awful lot from this baby to improve our chances of breeding more in the future. These are secretive animals so we are keeping it in a warm, humid and quiet room with a constant temperature, in an enclosure to replicate its natural habitat where it can burrow among the soil and leaves.”
The baby has a large amount of growing to do as it will one day reach a size of 1kg and measure 20cm. It has a long future ahead of it as these turtles can live for up to 50 years.
Captive breeding is important for this species which is critically endangered. Used for pets, medicine and meat in their homeland the species is increasingly under threat.
Bristol Zoo delivers money each year to the Turtle Conservation Centre in Cuc Phuong national park in Vietnam so they can conserve these turtles. This money this year provided funds to update their breeding facility.
Photo Credit: Bristol Zoo