Blanding’s Headstart Update at the 1.5 Year Mark
All of our 32 headstart Blanding’s turtles are doing very well! When our little guys hatched their average weight was around 10g. Today the 6 month olds weigh a healthy 17g, and the 1.5 year olds weight a healthy 70g. When the older guys weigh above 100g they should be big enough to avoided most natural predators like raccoons, foxes and birds of prey. In May of 2014 Adopt-A-Pond staff will begin conditioning the 2 year old turtles for release by placing them outside in protected enclosures. This way Adopt-A-Pond staff can better assess their ability to more naturally hunt for food and hide from predators, ensuring a better survive rate once release back into the wild.
The headstart program will be used to help Blanding’s turtle populations in Rouge Park, whom without anthropogenic measures will likely be extirpated by 2100. Planning for Blanding’s turtle recovery and management will ensure that this species continues to persist locally and can reach numbers that will sustain populations for years to come. This project includes collecting under permit turtle eggs from poor quality nest sites in an area with an established source population of Blanding’s turtles. Eggs are hatched and reared at the Toronto Zoo. On going research is being used to improve optimal care protocols and ensure an increase in survivorship and fitness of the turtles once released into Rouge Park.