The US San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has welcomed 41 tiny Indian narrow-headed softshell turtles, a rare and endangered turtle species that took almost two decades to breed. This has become the first accredited conservation organization in North America to hatch these endangered turtles. The zoo officials have closely monitored the three narrow-headed softshell turtles for more than 20 years. The wildlife care specialists have spent the majority of their time monitoring the group for any indication of breeding.
As per the press statement, the zoo said, “This is an extremely prolonged process as the turtles can take close to 10 years to even reach sexual maturity.”
They also mentioned that the reptiles usually lay their eggs overnight and cover them with dirt which adds to the difficulty of locating a nest.
According to the statement, this summer the team members discovered, two nests containing 41 eggs. While a few hatched in the normal habitat while the rest was carefully removed by the team and were placed in the artificial nest incubator.
“Doing so provided an environment where team members could help maintain the optimal temperatures and humidity for hatchings—increasing their chance of survival,” stated in the statement.
Kim Gray, curator of herpetology and ichthyology at the San Diego Zoo said that it is a thrilling moment for them at the San Diego Zoo and an incredible step forward in the conservation of this species. She also added that they have been focused on caring for these turtles for a very long time and part of that care is to gain a greater understanding of the species’ natural history.
“With the knowledge, we gain here at the Zoo, we can better assist our partners in India to help this essential species thrive in their native habitat,” Kim added.
She also mentioned that these turtles are higher-level predators within their native ranges. Kim also added that if these species are thriving, that means the river habitats where they live are healthy and can support other species. “And that includes human, as some local communities depend on the same water source used by the turtles,” she said.
Speaking about the Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle, is a large turtle species native to the Indian subcontinent. They are found at the bottom of deep rivers and streams in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh. They are also called small-headed softshell turtles.