Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Critically Endangered Bourret’s Box Turtles Hatch at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Look at the little baby turtles!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These are Bourret's box turtles, born June 12. There are just 2,300 Bourret's box turtles left in the wild in Vietnam and Laos. More than 90 percent of all Bourret's box turtles have been wiped out by deforestation and the food and pet trade.

The North American Association of Zoos and Aquariums implemented a Species Survival Plan for Bourret's box turtles in 2011. Two adults arrived at the Smithsonian National Zoo's Reptile Discovery Center in Washington, D.C., in 2012.

It is mega-difficult to breed these turtles. From October to March, Bourret's box turtles go into hibernation due to cold weather. Right after they wake up, there is a very narrow window where the turtles can breed. Zoos must mimic this cold weather in order to get adults to hibernate and breed. Moreover, Bourret's box turtle eggs will hatch only if the humidity and temperature are in a very specific, very narrow range while they incubate. Although the Smithsonian's Bourrett's box turtles have laid eggs every year since 2012, this is the first time those eggs have hatched. Keepers had to check the humidity and temperature in the exhibit twice a day between March 22, when the clutch was laid, and the emergence of the hatchlings.

The baby turtles are eating and gaining weight, and appear to be healthy and thriving. Right now, they weigh just 25 grams (nine-tenths of an ounce) – about as much as 20 jumbo paper clips.

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