The staff at South Africa’s Cango Wildlife Ranch is celebrating the hatching of four critically endangered Radiated Tortoises. Known as one of the world’s most beautiful Tortoise species, Radiated Tortoises are under serious threat due to illegal capture for the pet trade and human consumption in their native Madagascar.
More than nine months ago, the hatchlings’ 78-year-old mother carefully excavated two holes and laid a total of six eggs in the holes. Four of those eggs finally hatched during the month of March.
The tiny hatchlings are receiving extra-special care at the facility. They are kept warm, with room temperatures between 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit. A cozy heat pad for cuddle time is kept at 104 degrees if the babies need a quick warm-up. Reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded), so they rely on their environment to maintain appropriate body temperatures.
Mealtime includes green beans, lettuces, hibiscus flowers, and other leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces.
Cango Wildlife Ranch Director Narinda Beukes is the PAAZA (Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria) studbook manager for the Radiated Tortoise. This studbook lists the known parentage of all Radiated Tortoises in accredited African facilities. By using the studbook to pair unrelated animals for breeding, managers can ensure the greatest amount of genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population of these imperiled reptiles.
See more photos of the hatchlings below.