Monday, October 7, 2013

Seven Alligator Snapping Turtles Hatch at the Tennessee Aquarium

Seven alligator snapping turtles recently hatched at the Aquarium. Each hatched within the last few weeks and are generally about two inches in length (not including the tail). 

Their parents are our large male snapping turtle and the larger of the two female snapping turtles, from our Delta Swamp exhibit.

Senior Herpetologist Bill Hughes said, “The turtles hatched between the 5th and 13th of September from a clutch of seventeen eggs laid in early June.  The incubation time ranged from 89-97 days at 82 degrees.”

Two of the seven offspring have very light coloration.  “These may be hypomelanistic and it will be interesting to see how they appear once they grow older,” said Hughes.

It could take more than a decade for these turtles to reach maturity and grow to the size of their parents. The hatchlings are currently on a diet of food pellets, but they will become carnivorous as adults. In the wild, alligator snapping turtles often eat freshwater mollusks, fish, other turtles and carrion.

Did you know that baby turtles have “belly buttons”? Even though they hatch from eggs they still get their nutrients through a process similar to an umbilical cord before they hatch.

Got questions about our newest hatchlings? Tweet them to us @TNAquarium

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