Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Kessingland: Keepers at Afirca Alive delighted at arrival of five baby leopard tortoises

18:06 07 January 2014

One of the five tiny leopard tortoises that have hatched at Africa Alive in Kessingland.

One of the five tiny leopard tortoises that have hatched at Africa Alive in Kessingland.

Archant

Keepers at a Suffolk wildlife park are looking after some tiny new arrivals.

shares

A clutch of five baby leopard tortoises have hatched out of their eggs at Africa Alive in Kessingland, near Lowestoft.

Some of them, at just a few weeks old, are not much larger than a 50 pence piece.

The little tortoises currently weigh just a few ounces and, with fully-grown specimens tipping the scales at anywhere between 30lbs and 100lbs, the minute hatchlings have a lot of growing to do.

However, as their life expectancy is between 80 and 100 years, they have plenty of time to do it in.

The leopard tortoise is the fourth-largest tortoise in the world and the second largest on mainland Africa.

They can reach carapace (shell) sizes of more than 2ft in length. However, most specimens usually reach carapace lengths of 15 to 18ins and males are sometimes larger than females.

The park has been successfully keeping leopard tortoises since 1996, when the existing adults arrived as youngsters after being confiscated by Customs and Excise officers at Heathrow Airport. The last time the species successfully bred at Africa Alive was in 2007.

The eggs were laid in a sand nest site provided specifically for this purpose and were artificially incubated by staff at the park. Correct temperature and humidity are critical in the incubation process and must be just right if an embryo is to develop normally.

The baby tortoise is ready to emerge from the egg after 150 days.

From the time they initially pierce the shell of the egg, the hatching process usually takes between eight and 24 hours.

The first small fracture is made to permit air breathing to begin. Prior to this, the embryo’s oxygen demand has been met via permeation through the egg shell.

This initial small hole is gradually enlarged over the next few hours.

The hatchling may then sit in the egg for some time whilst its yolk sac is absorbed.

Until this happens, the hatchling remains especially vulnerable as its movement is seriously impaired.

The five tortoises hatched out at Africa Alive between November 28 and December 4.

They are herbivores and in the wild they primarily eat grasses as well as succulent plants, toadstools, and fruit. They also eat old bones to give them calcium.

shares

0 comments

Police enquiries are ongoing

A woman arrested in connection with suspected drug overdoses in Bury St Edmunds, has been bailed.

Former headteacher of the Oakwood School Eric De Smith arrives at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing

Showing no contrition or acceptance of guilt former Stowmarket headteacher Eric De Smith was jailed for seven years for sexually abusing four boys.

BBC Springwatch presenters Martin Hughes-Games, Chris Packham and  Michaela Strachan launch the new series at Minsmere Nature Reserve.

The BBC’s new Suffolk-based Springwatch series was launched yesterday with an impassioned call from Chris Packham for the popular TV wildlife programme to be a springboard that switches viewers on to the urgent need to reverse nature’s dramatic declines.

Thousands do not use the internet

As more and more vital services move online, figures have revealed more than 15% of Suffolk residents have either never used the internet, or not logged on in the past three months.

Police were alerted on Wednesday

A 30-year-old woman who was reported missing from Sudbury has been found.

Charity heart cushion makers who create them to help cancer patients.

Heart-shaped cushions which are being donated to breast cancer patients are supporting them both physically and emotionally.

Stephen Robson on his Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride

A 12 day bike ride from the bottom of England to the peak of Scotland has raised more than £4,000 for charity.

Woodbridge.

A group of travellers has moved into the car park at the Budgens store in Hamblin Road, Woodbridge.

Speed restrictions on the A12 for resurfacing

Officials at the government’s new Highways England agency are hopeful that the speed limit on the A12 between Ipswich and the Essex border will be lifted by the end of the month.

The old Oakwood School in Stowmarket.

As a former headmaster was yesterday jailed for seven years for sexually abusing four boys, one of his victims spoke out about the legacy of the teacher’s abuse in the 1980s.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages