Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: February 6, 2022 12:01 am
Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo
The Smithsonian's National Zoo have celebrated the hatching of four snake-necked turtles. Their hatching came as a surprise to keepers at the Washington DC attraction as they believed all 11 turtles housed in the off-exhibit area were females.
They emerged from their shells between October 13th and 20th marking the first time the species had successfully bred at the zoo in nine years.
At birth the young were around the size of a quarter as seen above meaning all four could fit in one hand.
Most aquatic turtles have clear indicators of their gender. Some of the most common are longer nails and thicker tails on males when compared against females. In snake necked turtles most look similar with the clearest difference being in their weight.
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At the zoo the eggs were raised in an incubator after being found in the habitat. Keepers could first identify signs of life in the turtles at 30 days old and between 70 and 85 days after they were laid they began to hatch.
In the wild the female will lay her eggs on dry land and hatching is then triggered when the area floods.
Currently the four hatchlings are living together in an off-display area. As they become more confident and grow they will move back in with the adults.
Keepers currently describe the young as shy and note that they often won't feed with them watching.
Snake-necked turtles are notable for their long, slender neck. This adaptation means they can remain mostly submerged when they surface for air.
A snake-necked turtle hatchling is seen at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo