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This keeled box turtle peered out of its shell for two days before coming out completely. Photo by Bill Hughes/Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium got a nice surprise last week when a keeled box turtle hatched after breaking open its shell and looking out for two days before finally coming completely out to the world. This hatchling marks the first time the aquarium has successfully hatched a keeled box turtle. Its incubation period lasted 126 days.
According to the Chattanoogan, the turtle is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The species is prone to over-collection for the food and pet trade in their native countries, which includes China, India, and the Southeast Asian countries of Laos and Vietnam. The keeled box turtle gets its name from the three raised ridges, or keels that run the length of their shells. There are an estimated 20 keeled box turtles in zoos throughout the United States and the Tennessee Aquarium is home to six individuals including three adults, a male and two females. The other three, including this newly hatched turtle are juveniles. In addition to the six keeled box turtles, the aquarium is home to more than 500 other chelonians representing 75 species. The aquarium has experienced quite a few breeding successes this year. In July, the aquarium hatched seven red-headed Amazon River turtles (Podocnemis erythrocephala), eight yellow-blotched map turtles (Graptemys flavimaculata), three four-eyed turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata), and two Florida chicken turtles (Deirochelys reticularia chrysea).