Gratuitous Belly Button Shots

Remember this?

It’s now this:

One week old. See how much the umbilicus has shrunk? Eventually it will disappear entirely.

The hatchling Indian Star tortoises are growing well. On Wednesday, they had their first soak. This species is from a more arid region. Soaking offers them the opportunity to drink. And to poop. The little guys seemed to enjoy it. Their heads dipped into the water immediately, and they took their first drink.

First drink. For a size comparison, they're in an 11x9 food storage container. Sorry about the wonky angle.

There were occasional mishaps. But don’t worry. The water isn’t deep.

As helpless as a tortoise on its...oh, wait.

Nap time. Everyone is sleepy!

Note the red marks on their shells. Even though each tortoise’s pattern is unique, the colors will shift and change a bit over time. For accuracy of record-keeping, each tortoise is marked with fingernail polish on a different scute (rhymes with “scoot” or “cute”), and the marks are recorded. Scutes are the scales on the shell, and these marks are the easiest way to accurately identify animals in a collection.

I took them out into the sun for some much-appreciated vitamin D, which is essential to good bone development. They have ultraviolet lamps, of course, but nothing beats natural sunlight. Sadly, I have no pictures of this event because I was so busy making sure visitors didn’t pocket one! Maybe next time.

Stay tuned for more updates. I have more photos to share, and it’ still early in hatching season.

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49 thoughts on “Gratuitous Belly Button Shots

  1. We learnt a lot about these wonderful creatures recently. We had to transport a Terrapin and the care instructions were lengthy. The bathing and pooping works wonders! Do you have to wash your hands after handling tortoises as we had to with the terrapin?

    • Yes. We wash our hands between species, and with some of them, we actually wear gloves. Cross-contamination is always carefully guarded against. And we bleach the tubs after each round of soaking (I soak two different groups). You must have the most interesting job on the planet. What’s the weirdest animal you’ve ever transported? If you blogged about it, I’d love it if you linked me to the post!

  2. I quadruple like this!!! I love tortoise belly buttons! And I’m so impressed by the little cutie who dared to try the backstroke! Loooove Tortoise Day!

  3. People love turtles, especially when they’re covered in chocolate and pecans. I know it’s highly tempting for some. So just know that I counted 10 baby turtles in your possession and that’s how many I expect to see later. If I only see 9, then I’ll calling the authorities!

  4. Your little tortoises are great and it’s always fun to see them. But reading your post makes me glad that my body does not respond in the same way, when I soak in the tub – especially since my wife and I enjoying sharing a bath from time to time. This could just really ruin the mood…

  5. Hi,
    Beautiful photos, they are all so gorgeous. It is a great idea to mark the shells, I can see how easy it would be to get them mixed up otherwise. They are obviously getting the best of care. :)

  6. I just wanted to pop in to tell you that I enjoy your blog immensely. Whether it’s about your son, tiny turtle babies or a political sign, I always take away something…usually a smile!

  7. Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion « Clarissa's Blog

  8. These guys are so pur-ty! Congrats! One time, my friend had a couple turtles, and she put them into a big tank (thinking they would like the extra space… maybe a bachelor pad of sorts). Anyhoo, they grew super fast, and now they’re huge! I don’t know how big your little guys can end up being, but hers are at least 10 pounds each! I think she’s regretting the whole decision to upgrade them to a Kardashian-sized penthouse. ;)

    • These won’t grow quite that quickly, thank goodness. I’ve got some photos coming showing how much one species can grow in about 9 months. And some of them will be going out to other zoos.

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