Nearly Wordless – Wait, What Day Is It Again?

I always get a little discombobulated when we have a holiday. In my mind, it’s Saturday, which normally means no post at all. But I’m a giver.

I know it says nearly wordless, and look! Words! Bear with me. I got a new camera. It isn’t super-expensive or anything, but it’s my first dSLR, and it is intimidating. The how-to guide is 400 pages. I tried it a few times with little success. I hate things that prove that I am make me feel stupid, so I put it back in the box and continued to use my little camera. Until yesterday. I sent my little camera with my daughter on her mission trip and picked up the 400 page manual. I made it 25 pages, and then I gave up and just started taking pictures. I am in love.

Click to enlarge.

And then there are these. Click to enlarge them, too.

And we went to see my friend’s puppies last night. I’ll leave you with this.

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

The Post So Exciting I Forgot to Title It.

In yesterday’s post, I featured photos of two tiny bog turtle babies. They are roughly the size of a June beetle and hide like you wouldn’t believe, so I was delighted to be able to photograph them this young. As promised, I’ve got some other tortoise-y cuteness to start your weekend with.

For starters, here’s our newest hatchling.

That’s a bit of egg shell on its carapace. A brand new hatchling.

It’s a Pyxis arachnoides brygooi, or Northern Spider tortoise, one of the species of dwarf tortoises from Madagascar. The breeding program at our zoo is top notch. This is the ninth brygooi to hatch this year, and the 28th overall. Not too shabby considering that the first successful hatching in the entire country didn’t occur until six years ago. And you guessed it. That first hatching occurred at our zoo.

Because everyone loves a belly button image. Look at that little face!

And now an update on a pair we’ve been following for awhile. It’s Nash and Navi! The link takes you to the day that they hatched, way back in February.

They have really grown, but they’d still fit in my pocket. If I was so inclined. And if they wouldn’t pee on me.

Back in July, the pair weighed 52 grams combined. That’s the equivalent of about 17 American pennies. Nash was the bigger of the two by about 2 grams. Today, they tip the scales at 30 grams each! Navi was the tiniest of all the Indian Star hatchlings, but she has caught up. I wonder if she’ll pass her sister.

She looks like she’s been dining on powdered sugar doughnuts. It’s calcium powder, good for building a strong shell.

To get an idea of her size, that’s a clover bloom on her right.

And one more friend before we go.

Pyxis arachnoides oblonga, the Southern Spider Tortoise.  This one is my current favorite in the collection. Because I can play favorites if I want to.

Happy Friday, friends. If you’d like more tortoise updates in the future, be sure to say so in the comments. Someone I know doubts that people enjoy my tortoise posts as much as I do.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Introducing…

Nash and Navi!

Do you see the stars beginning to emerge on Navi’s back? She’s the one at the top.

Sarah Wilken over at Oodles of Scruples (yes, I linked you to my favorite post. You’re welcome!) came up with the winning submissions, so she is the winnnnah! Be sure to pay her a visit and congratulate her!

This photo was taken two months ago. Not so much yellow peeking through.

Sarah, shoot me an email over at zooheatheroneatgeemaildotcom with your address so that I can send you your fabulous prize! An 8×10 of the Stars themselves. No, not the ones in the sky. The tortoises. Try and keep up, guys!

The post didn’t hit 1000 views, but don’t lose hope! The next time one of my posts gets 1000 page views within a couple of days, I’ll do another giveaway.

Parting shot:

They wander by themselves all day, independent little critters. But when it’s time to rest, they find each other. Every single time.

And Here Are the Finalists

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I have narrowed it down to five pairs of names. It has taken me some time to do the whole narrowing-down thing because there were some really awesome names to choose from. Thanks to everyone who put on their thinking caps to help me out with this.

And here’s the fun part. The vote! Which is awesome! Unless you’re Squish and you’ve been taken by your parents to do their civic duty (haha! Sounds like “doody!”), but instead of going to vote, you think you’re “going to a boat.” The you’ll just be disappointed. No boats here, just votes. So get to it!

You have one week. Voting closes next Friday. By magic. Or by Polldaddy. The winner gets an 8X10 photograph of tortoise hatchling. And maybe something else, if I can get the little poots to cooperate.

*** exceedingly cool twist of fate***  In the event that “Airmail and Moonpie” are selected, then everyone who submitted a name will be entered in the drawing, as those names were originally offered by Squish, and he has no interest in photos. And I really want to give something away.

Who am I? Tiny little identity crisis here. Name me?

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The more votes, the better! So share the post with your friends. And your enemies, if you want. We’re supposed to love our enemies, after all, and nothing says love like the privilege of voting. And earning equal wage, but that’s neither here nor there.

***additional really cool twist of fate***If the post gets over 1000 views, I’ll send a photo out to TWO people!

Baby Pictures. And a Contest

It’s hard to believe! The Indian Star tortoise hatchlings are almost three months old, and it’s time to split them up into larger habitats.

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Just a few months ago, they were exploding out of their egg shells. Time flies.

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Getting a first bath

And now they’re ready to move on to bigger and better things.

Here’s the fun part. I have picked out a pair of them that I am hoping to write about. At least in blog posts, but possibly a series of children’s books. And here’s where the contest comes in. They need names. Really cool ones.

Taking a sunbath and having some breakfast. Will they be Moon Pie and Air Mail forever?

Send me your suggestions. I’ll narrow it down to a few of my favorites, and readers will get to vote. The person(s) who submitted the two names that are ultimately selected will win a prize. I have two ideas for prizes at the moment. Neither involves shipping a live animal, but they’ll be cool.

Here’s what you need to know:

Enter by submitting your suggestions in the comments box. One pair of names per comment, but you can suggest more than one pair of names.

Gender-neutral names are preferable. The tortoises were incubated as females, but sometimes surprises happen. If they’re creative and awesome enough, though, I’ll definitely consider gender specific names.

Beware of copyright infringement. These names will be used publicly, so I’ll be skipping over Edward/Bella, Sheldon/whoever the hot girl he’s supposed to be in love with, etc.

Think outside the box. Clever and cute will win me any day. I once owned a red-foot (no, not THAT kind of red-foot, sj! A red-footed tortoise) I named Rigger Tortoise.

Be appropriate. These are names my kids will be reading. And my mom.

The finalists will not be chosen by a robo-number-picker-thingy. The finalists will be chosen by me. So wow me! Knock my non-existent socks off! (it’s Chaco season, you know).

Finalists will be posted for voting on June 1. Or somewhere thereabouts. Don’t hold me to the specific date in case I’m getting my hair done or something. When finalists have been posted, the contest will be closed at that point to new submissions.

International entries are permitted. I may have to change the final prize at the end if someone outside the US wins, due to cost of shipping. But you’ll get something awesome.

I reserve the right to:

Lose my mind, thereby rendering contest null and void.

End submissions early or late. Or whatever.

Dye my hair purple. Just because. I told you I might get my hair done.

End the contest without a winner because Squish wants to stick with the names “Moon Pie” and “Air Mail.”

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So there you have it! So easy! Now get to suggesting!

What Happens When You Eat A Lot

Remember this little guy?

Look how tiny!

We discussed their hearty appetite, right? Yeah. Feed an Indian star tortoise well, and 7 weeks later, you get this:

Look! I can see myself! I’m pretty!

Yes, they’ve doubled in size, with no sign of slowing down. Impressive, no?

Wait! Don’t EAT the quarter! You might have a problem, little friend. I didn’t want to be the one to tell you, but…

Be Very Afraid

Feeding time at the zoo is different in the reptile department.  Many reptiles do not eat everyday. Their metabolism is slower than ours because they don’t use their food-energy to maintain their body temperature, so some of them can go weeks, months, even a year without eating. It’s amazing.

Indian Star tortoises are not like that. They are, shall we say, enthusiastic eaters.  So just for kicks, toss in some greens, and sit back for the ride.

You would think they hadn’t eaten in a week. Watch your fingers!

They’re like a school of piranha! But vegetarian. And cuter.

Out of my way!

And of course, the post is not complete without video. I love this particular tortoise because she approaches mealtime in much the same way that I do.

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.