New Baby Blanding’s Turtles!

Newly Hatched Blanding’s Turtle

Success!  We are happy to announce 4 clutches of Blanding’s turtle eggs hatched successfully the over the August long weekend! These baby Blanding’s are our new recruits for Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme head start initiative!

1 Week Old Blanding's Turtle

1 Week Old Blanding’s Turtle next to nickel for size reference.

When these little guys hatch their average size is about as big as a loonie and their average weight around 9g; that’s as about as heavy as two cubes of sugar! How cute! Currently these little guys are all enjoying a tepid nursery tub full of leafy vegetation to hide under and a nice warm basking site nearby. Many love to sleep under the drift wood near the basking light. While others are always found floating tucked between the layers of tasty kale leaves.

Once these little guys are big enough to more easily evade predators, the turtles will be released into wetlands of the Rouge National Urban Park. Once numerous in this area, these long-lived turtles, now number as few as 10 wild individuals in this population pocket.

“This long term reintroduction project is the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and marks a significant step in 15 years of turtle monitoring and research in what will soon become Rouge National Urban Park,” said Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Toronto Zoo. “Blanding’s turtles are amazing creatures and in some ways they’re a poster child for endangered species – by helping them, we also help countless other wetland animals and plants. The Toronto Zoo is proud to be part of this important partnership to save and protect Blanding’s turtles.”

The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source populations in Ontario from non-viable nest laid in compromising locations such as in the middle of a construction site. Partners in this programme including Parks Canada, University of Toronto Scarborough campus, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Ontario  Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests  and Toronto Zoo believe that this type of reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to this species survival in the future.

Earth Rangers, an environmental conservation organization focused on engaging youth in the protection of nature, also provided support for a facility to house the turtle eggs and babies at the Toronto Zoo.

PC, UOT, TRCA, ER

Funding for Adopt-A-Pond Programme Has Been Provided By:

Env Can and OnWant to Help Baby Turtles?

Keep a look out on the roads and in sandy areas for emerging baby turtles at this time of year! Be careful not to displace the baby turtles. Baby turtles have a natural instinct to find their wetland homes.

If you have questions about hatchlings you have seen we can help! Call the Adopt-A-Pond at 416-392-5999

Don’t forget to report your hatchling turtle sightings to Ontario Turtle Tally. All sightings go into a database to help us determine where turtles are living, locate areas for conservation initiatives, and provide information on turtle populations for research studies.

For more information about Toronto Zoo conservation programs visit: http://www.torontozoo.com/conservation/

AAP and TZ

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