Exciting News from the Tortoise House

We would like you to meet one of the newest hatchlings at Jersey Zoo, a juvenile radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). On 6th May, keepers were excited to discover that a radiated tortoise egg had hatched.

It has been growing well behind the scenes since and now weighs 35g. For comparison, its mother weighs 7kg and our males weigh nearly 11kg so the little hatchling has plenty of growing to do! This tiny tortoise will be cared for by the keepers indoors until it is at least 10 years old and of a similar size to its mother, at which point it will be mixed with the rest of the radiated tortoise family at the Zoo.

Native to Madagascar, this beautiful species was given its name because on each of the scutes (the plates that make up the shell), there is a beautiful pattern of yellow lines that radiate from the centre. Sadly, they are under severe threat from the illegal wildlife trade for traditional medicine and pets.

We are currently working with this species in Mauritius as part of an offshore island ecosystem restoration programme, where they are used to take the place of extinct giant tortoises that were responsible for seed dispersal and grazing.

It’s not just the radiated tortoises that have had a successful year at the Zoo. Our Brazilian poison frogs (Ranitomeya vanzolinii) have been doing well too. These little animals grow up to just 19mm. The females carefully rear each individual tadpole in the axles of bromeliad plants, remembering the location of each of their offspring and visiting them to lay an infertile egg for them to eat each day.

Since these frogs are such super-mums, they breed well in our exhibit in the reptile house with little intervention on the keepers’ part.