Two tiny Galapagos giant tortoise hatchlings at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

galapogos giant tortise hatchlingsA pair of Galapagos giant tortoise hatchlings have emerged from their eggs at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

They are the second lot of Galapagos giant tortoise hatchlings ever born in Australia. The zoo also bred the first one ever born in Australia which hatched in 2011.

The two hatchlings emerged from their eggs on the 24 and 26 January.

The two hatchlings have a long future ahead with this species being know to reach 150 years of age. They will be fully grown at 20-25 years of age.

The hatchlings have gained 30grams of weight since hatching. Supervisor Jennifer Conaghan detailed the hatchlings diet, “Like adult Galapagos Tortoise, the hatchlings respond to bright coloured foods such as hibiscus and rose petals, but they also enjoy small amounts of green vegetables and browse.”

They are too small to go on display so ‘at present the hatchlings are being kept in an off-display area that is temperature controlled to ensure optimum conditions for them.’ Each day they go on excursions to ‘spend some time out in the sun with their keepers.’

The zoo team has put much dedication and expertise into the continued breeding success of these tortoises. They are working tirelessly on perfecting incubation techniques. They are also monitoring the oestrous cycles of the females.

This is paying dividends as the team of keepers work on this year’s breeding season ‘We are hopeful we can continue to build on this success again later this year, as the 2014 breeding season has already commenced with lots of early interest from the males in the females.’

The sex of the Galapagos tortoise hatchlings is not yet known explained Conaghan, ‘We will be able to determine if these two hatchlings are male or female once they reach five years of age.’

This species may number only 10,000 in the wild as such they are vulnerable to extinction. Feral animals are a large threat to their existence.

Photo credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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