Thursday, September 19, 2013

*cough* more baby tortoises ?! *cough*

You might remember me mentioning that our tortoise family is complete. You might also know that I'm a huge sucker for tiny baby tortoises.
Just out of the box - one still has the red nail polish mark from the breeder
When I got Buttercup (the almost-yearling Marginated tortoise) I knew that at some point down the line I wanted to get more, to form a small breeding group eventually. Well, to make a long story short,  an opportunity came up that it would have been folly to pass up, and now we have two more baby Marginated tortoises.

Parmesan Cheese? Nope, baby tortoises!
These two tiny girls were shipped to me, and arrived safely this morning. The FedEx guy placed the box on the ground with the 'This way UP' arrow prominently pointing DOWN, but the tortoises were so well packaged that they were just fine.

Sorry it's a little blurry - I was too excited to get them out!
I know that I call Buttercup a 'baby' tortoise, and she is. But these wee creatures are truly BABY tortoises. They are about 1 and 3/4 inches long (less than 4.5cm). Their tiny belly buttons have just healed over, and they only have one growth ring so far. They each weigh 16g - which is about 5x smaller than Buttercup. Can you imagine that they will grow 425x larger in the course of their life (to about 6800g or up to 15lbs)?!

Buttercup looks like a giant now!
I refer to the babies as 'girls' because they were incubated at temperatures that should result in females. Tortoises, like many other reptiles, are sexed based on the temperature the eggs are kept at, did you know that? It will likely be another 5 or more years before we know for sure though.

Meet Blossom (L) and Bubbles (R). 
I got to choose these two out of several clutches. They are unrelated, and I picked the darkest of all the babies, and the lightest of all the babies. It will be interesting to see what they look like as adults. Marginated tortoises don't differ much visually, once they are grown up, but I am sure we will be able to tell them apart.

Exploring a little
After the wee Marginated babies had soaked, I set them into the enclosure to bask. They moved around and explored, one of them even nibbled on the weeds I offered, and then they dug themselves into the spaghnum moss of their hot humid hide.

I provide artificial UVB for them indoors, but once it was warm enough outside, I also brought them out and let them explore the safe little planted baby tortoise garden for a few hours. Natural sunlight is so good for them, and I hope they will be off to a good start for years of nice smooth growth. I know their breeder gave them the best start a baby could possibly hope for.

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