Wednesday, September 24, 2008


One of the projects I am involved with at work is a Blandings Turtle headstarting programme. The aquatic Blandings Turtle is listed as endangered in Illinois due to a loss of habitat and an increase in its natural predators. The headstarting program involves collecting eggs, incubating and hatching them and rearing the hatchlings for the first two years of their life to give them a 'headstart' before they are re-released into the wild. This project has been in development for a number of years and we took our first delivery of one year old turtles early this year. Today we had a delivery of new one year olds and our existing youngsters were moved to an outside enclosure to begin acclimatising them for their release. The picture above shows one of the older turtles.

What a difference a year makes! Number 16 is one of the outgoing turtles being prepared for release, number 58 is one of our new arrivals!

Incoming and outgoing - there is one more tiny one who wandered out of shot on the right. The first two years of a turtles life are when it is most vulnerable, if it successfully hatches it takes about two years for the turtles shell to suitably harden and thicken enough to protect it from predators.

Jamie introduces number 23 to his new home for the next year. We will keep them here and monitor their growth rates regularly to ensure they are developing correctly before they are released.

Here are the new babies settling into their enclosure, the glass is one way so we can see in and observe them but they cannot see us. This helps to ensure that the young turtles do not become too habituated to humans before they are released.

The older turtles will spend about ten days getting used to being outside and then we will fit them with tiny radio transmitters and release them - look out for my post when that happens.

Photo Credits - CJT


Rambling Woods said...

Oh my gosh, this is so interesting being involved with this project. I had no idea about the great vulnerability that the little turtles suffer from or that they could habituate to humans. The only turtles that I have seen are snapping and painted.

Celeste said...

Michelle - It is a great project to work on, very rewarding. The new little hatchlings that have just arrived keep us entertained for hours with their antics, it is also a hugely popular exhibit here at the Museum.