When I reported for duty on Tortoise Day, guess what I found waiting for me?

Pyxis arachnoides brygooi aka Northern Spider Tortoise

And its lovely counterpart

Pyxis arachnoides arachnoides aka Common Spider Tortoise. Its pale face is so beautiful!

These tortoises are endemic to Madagascar and both subspecies are critically endangered in the wild. It is only in recent years that these guys have been hatched successfully in captivity. Standard procedure for hatching reptiles is to immediately place the eggs in an incubator and wait. The magic with certain Malagasy species lies in actually cooling the eggs down for a few weeks first. Sounds weird, right? But unless captive eggs spend a few weeks in a wine chiller, the eggs never develop.

A better shot of its ghostly facial markings.

Four days after hatching

Here’s to a successful hatching season.

Update: My friend Michael left for Madagascar today. He will be attending the grand opening of the school. Our goal in that fund-raiser was $2000 for desks, benches and school supplies, and I am so happy to share that when all was said and done, together we raised $3200, all of which goes to the school. Thanks to everyone who shared or donated. You knock my socks off.


33 thoughts on “Surprise!

  1. Congratulations on meeting your goal and the new additions!

    Oh, and my husband was curious about how y’all figured out (certain species) Malagasy eggs need to be cooled down to develop. Do you know?

    • That’s the really cool part of the story. Michael was fairly new in the reptile department, and he noticed that the tortoises laid lots of eggs, but they never hatched. He did some research about Madagascar and learned that when the tortoises lay the eggs, it’s much cooler outside. The one facility that had ever hatched one had cooled the eggs down beforehand. So they gave him an egg and let him experiment. And the zoo became the first one in North America to ever hatch a brygooi.

  2. Hi,
    That is fantastic. They certainly are cute, and how very clever to work out about the eggs having to be cool at first. 🙂
    Congrats on getting the money raised as well, not easy to do with the way things are at the moment.

  3. So sweet! And I like the pale green face too, so cute!
    Awesome that you guys figured out how to hatch them. And yay for the school project!! Such a great idea to create a win-win situation!

  4. Aww, aren’t they just precious! Especially when they go all shy on the camera and hide their heads. That’s something my marine turtles can’t but I really adore this protective mechanism.

  5. BC: This series would make an excellent children’s book. “Whatimeant2say” is correct. I’d buy it for my grandson. I am enthralled by the story the pictures have told through your lens. Excellent!

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

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