Four rare Turtles have come out of their shells at the Houston Zoo! These Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are not often seen in zoos due to their large size and low rate of reproduction in captivity.
Getting out of a shell can be tough work but baby turtles have a special adaptation on their snout: an egg tooth. Also called a caruncle, the egg tooth is a temporary structure that is used to cut through the egg membrane and break through the shell. Once there is a hole in the egg, the turtle can break out.
The zoo’s journey to this remarkable hatching began when they acquired a group of juvenile Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles in 2002. The Turtles have reached maturity, and these hatchlings are the result.
At the Houston Zoo, this species inhabits the moat surrounding the Orangutan exhibit, but the Turtles are very secretive and not often seen. They feed on fish, plants, and fruits.
Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are found in rivers and lakes on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. Adults can reach almost three feet in length and can weigh over 100 pounds. Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are heavily exploited for their meat, and populations are in decline throughout their native range.
See more photos of the Turtles below.