Critically Endangered Bourret’s Box Turtles Hatch at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Photo Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center are celebrating a conservation achievement 5 years in the producing: a pair of Bourret’s box turtle hatchlings. These young are the 1st of their species to hatch each at the Zoo and as a part of the North American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for Bourret’s box turtle.
Ever considering that the turtles emerged from their shells June 12, keepers have closely monitored them to ensure they are consuming and gaining weight. They seem to be wholesome and thriving, weighing 25 grams each—about 1/52 the size of their mother, who weighs 1,300 grams. Employees have not however verified the 10-day-old turtles’ sex, as they show no sexual dimorphism at this age. The young turtles, as well as the adult female and two adult males, will stay off-exhibit whilst under observation.
The Bourret’s box turtles’ parents arrived at the Zoo in 2012 following a SSP breeding recommendation. From October to March, adult Bourret’s box turtles undergo a period of brumation—a hibernation-like state primarily based on temperature cycling. It is only right after completing this annual procedure that profitable reproduction occurs. Despite the female producing eggs every single year because 2013, this was the very first year the eggs developed totally and hatched.
Bourret’s box turtle eggs can be challenging to hatch in human care, in component simply because the incubator’s humidity and temperature have to be set at a distinct range in order for embryonic development to take place. Keepers checked on the incubated eggs day-to-day and produced minor adjustments to keep this range. The female laid her initial clutch of this year March 22, and these hatchlings emerged after a 12-week incubation. Keepers are cautiously optimistic that a second clutch, laid April 29, will hatch with equivalent achievement. The Zoo will share the details gathered about this species’ breeding and improvement with AZA for the advantage of other institutions that exhibit and want to breed this species.
Scientists estimate only 2,300 Bourret’s box turtles stay in their native habitat, the evergreen forests of Vietnam and Laos. These terrestrial turtles are deemed critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as their populations have declined much more than 90 % since the mid-1950s due to habitat deforestation and illegal trafficking in the food and pet trade.
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By Smithsonian’s National Zoo on 2017-06-16 07:47:11
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