Image: © Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta Hatch Critically Endangered Bog Turtles


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


March 10, 2023 7:00 am


Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, The United States

Zoo Atlanta have boosted the population of the critically endangered bog turtle with two hatchlings emerging on March 1 and 2 2023. Native to Georgia these animals are the smallest species of turtle found in North America. At hatching the young were the size of a quarter. Adults weigh just 3.7 to 4.2 ounces.

This is the second hatching from these parents who welcomed their last clutch in summer 2022.

At present these hatchlings are housed in an off display area of the Georgia eXtremes building. Guests visiting the zoo can view their older sibling and it is hoped that these hatchlings will join them in the future once they have grown. Georgia eXtremes is a habitat dedicated to animals and interpretive messaging focused on Georgia native reptiles and amphibians.

“Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to welcome new bog turtle hatchlings. Not only is every hatch vital to the remaining population of this critically endangered species, but this news also shines an important spotlight on efforts to preserve Georgia wildlife and wild environments,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “People sometimes think of biodiversity as a feature of faraway places on other continents, when in fact our own state is a hotbed of biodiversity.”

Bog turtles are found exclusively in the eastern United States. They rely on mountain bog habitats which is becoming as rare as these turtles. Habitat destruction is being driven by roads, construction for human communities, and other human-made threats.  The Zoo Atlanta Horticulture Team has assisted the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy in efforts to restore a mountain bog in Georgia.

These turtles also suffer due to the large trade in smuggled turtles from the US. These are often smuggled out of the country while crudely hidden in luggage, stuffed in socks, or otherwise disguised. They can then be sold internationally for food, traditional medicines, and pets in areas where high demand has reduced the local turtle harvests. This has seen turtles suffer one of the sharpest population declines of any vertebrate species.

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Bog turtles are the smallest species of turtle found in North America. The oldest individual on record lived for an amazing 62 years!

Image: © Zoo Atlanta

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