Rare Vietnamese box turtle hatches at Bristol Zoo

Vietnamese box turtle Image copyright BRISTOL ZOO GARDENS
Image caption Bristol Zoo is believed to be the second zoo in Europe to have bred Vietnamese box turtles

One of the world's rarest turtles has hatched at a British zoo.

The Vietnamese box turtle, a critically endangered species, emerged after being kept at a constant temperature in an incubator at Bristol Zoo Gardens for 85 days.

Now six weeks old, the creature weighs just half an ounce and is the size of a matchbox.

It is currently being kept off-show from zoo visitors in a climate-controlled quarantine room.

Once old enough, it will join the six adult box turtles in the Asian turtle breeding room in the zoo's reptile house.

'Secretive animals'

Tim Skelton, the zoo's curator of reptiles, said: "This is a very difficult species to breed so I am thrilled with the arrival of this baby.

"Little is known about this species so we can learn an awful lot from this baby to improve our chances of breeding more in the future.

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

The turtle is the second bred by the zoo, which has kept the species for 12 years. The zoo's first Vietnamese box turtle hatched in 2012 and is thriving on a diet of snails, worms and chopped fruit.

Bristol Zoo is working with the Turtle Conservation Centre in Cuc Phuong national park in Vietnam to help safeguard the species.

Vietnamese box turtles

  • An adult box turtle weighs about 2lb (900g), measures some 8in (20cm) long and can live to be 50 years old
  • They are mainly terrestrial, although they will enter shallow water to hunt and soak
  • They are hunted for their meat, for use in traditional medicines or as pets and are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Endangered Species red list
  • Bristol Zoo is believed to be the second zoo in Europe to have bred the species

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