Paignton Zoo Fights Spider Turtle Extinction
Today, the tortoise also known as Pyxis Arachnoides, or the Spider Tortoise to you and me has fought extinction head on with the help of the professional experts at Paignton Zoo.
The Spider Tortoise has become the first species of turtle to be bred in the UK, at our very own Paignton Zoo.
The secret to the success of breeding the worlds smallest tortoise lies in the fine blend between a driving passion for endangered animals to survive and of course cool-headed science.
The Spider Tortoise often burrows and is more commonly found in the south western coast of Madagascar.
When we say small we mean small
The adult Spider Tortoise will typically be know bigger than 6 inches long from the head to their tail.
The name Spider Tortoise, and this will relieve a lot of us, has nothing to do with spinning webs or catching flies, it actually comes from the web like patterns shown on their shells.
An unknown lifecycle
Not much is known about the average life cycle of tortoises as a species.
However it is thought that they can live as long as 70 years, and although that sounds like a grand old age, they are at risk of being extinct in the wild.
Paignton Zoo, is lucky to house four tortoises two males and two females all ranging from 11 to 22 and are handled by experienced keeper Andy Meek.
The Spider Tortoise hatched from its egg on Wednesday the 25th April 2018 after over 180 days of incubation.
The next step for the team at Paignton Zoo is to rear the youngster and then send it on to another zoo in due course.
A great achievement for Paignton Zoo
Speaking at the announcement of the birth of the baby Spider Tortoise, Luke Harding said:
This is a great achievement for all the team, but I must congratulate keeper Andrew Meek – this is an excellent example of the hard work, evidence-based husbandry and attention to detail that brings success. Andrew was the lead on this project and did all the hard work and research on how to cycle the animals and incubate the eggs, including the crucial cooling period.”
Our success is down to the combination of particular husbandry and precise incubation. We also managed to deal with the complicated incubation process and changing the temperatures throughout.
This species is not doing well in the wild. The more we can breed them and the more we can learn about their captive management and reproductive biology, the more we can contribute towards effective conservation measures in-situ.
Not much hope for survival in the wild
It is unfortunate that hope of survival for the spider tortoise in the wild is being hampered by deforestation, mining, road building and livestock grazing.
On top of this there is also the pressure of invasive plant species and locals who hunt them for food, last but not least there is also collection and smuggling for international pet trade which also poses a significant threat to the survival of the Spider Tortoise.