Vietnamese box turtle baby in British zoo

Vernon, the baby Vietnamese box turtle, is now seven-weeks-old and roughly the size of a matchbox

From the BBC:

5 September 2012

Vietnamese box turtles bred successfully at Bristol Zoo

Critically endangered Vietnamese box turtles have been bred successfully for the first time in a British zoo.

A baby Vietnamese box turtle, which is one of the world’s rarest turtles, was born at Bristol Zoo in July and is now roughly the size of a matchbox.

Reptile curator, Tim Skelton, said it was a 40-year “career highlight” as the species was very difficult to breed.

The youngster, called Vernon, is being kept in a climate-controlled room and hand fed chopped worms by keepers.

He currently weighs 28g and measures around 5cm (2in) long.

‘Boggy tank’

“Not a lot is known about this species so we can learn an awful lot from this baby to improve our chances of breeding more in future,” said Mr Skelton.

“These are secretive animals so we are keeping it in a warm, humid and quiet room with a constant temperature, in a boggy tank to replicate its natural habitat where it can burrow among the soil and leaves.”

As well as being a UK first, Bristol Zoo is also only the second in Europe to have bred the species, with success also having been seen at a zoo in Germany.

The zoo is part of a European breeding programme with private turtle experts and now has a total of seven Vietnamese box turtles.

Hunting for their meat, or medicinal use, or as pets, led to the species being listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

An adult box turtle weighs around 1kg (2.2lbs), measures around 20cm (7.9in) long and can live for up to 50 years.

Vietnamese Flowerback Box Turtle

Scientific name: Cuora bourreti
Continent: Asia
Diet: Aquatic plants, molluscs, crustaceans, worms, fungi, fallen fruits
Habitat: Shallow swamps, streams, ponds, flooded rice paddies
Conservation status: Critically endangered
Called a box turtle because the animal can box up completely within its shell

Source: Bristol Zoo

1 thought on “Vietnamese box turtle baby in British zoo

  1. Pingback: Young green turtles, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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