By Cris Hagen, Nathan Haislip, Clint Doak, Carol Alvarez, John Greene, and Jordan Gray
The year's first hatchling Southern Vietnam Box Turtle breaks through its eggshell in the TSC's incubator. Photo credit: Cris Hagen
On June 8, 2018 the first hatchling Southern Vietnam Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) of the year pipped its egg at our Turtle Survival Center. Deposited on February 26th, the egg incubated for 102 days at 25.5¬∞C (78¬∞F) before greeting our keepers with its beautifully mottled yellow, orange, and black head.
2018 has been a breakout year for Southern Vietnam Box Turtle reproduction at the TSC. Despite their relatively recent acquisition, with all of the adult specimens having arrived at the TSC in 2014, 2015, and 2017 respectively, the females have acclimated well to their new environment. This acclimation is actively demonstrated by this year's extraordinary egg production. Thus far, twenty eggs have been produced from all eight females in the collection. Eighteen of these eggs have been collected for incubation, while one clutch of two are still being carried by the parental female.
Not only has overall egg production for the assurance group of Southern Vietnam Box Turtles been high in 2018, but individual production has been equally as high. Each female in the collection, aside from one, has laid two clutches thus far, with the mother of this year's first hatchling having just produced her third. With a roughly 50% fertility rate, half of the eighteen eggs deposited are showing development. Of poignant note, this year's production is greater than that of the total production by all United States zoos participating in the studbook for the species. Furthermore, the TSC is the only non-zoological facility (U.S.) participating in the studbook that has produced the species, aside from private individuals.
With a laser-focus on our commitment to this species, we hope to hatch many more of this rare and beautiful species over the coming years. These hatchlings will help build the foundation for healthy, first-generation assurance colonies.