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Animal Update: Big-Headed Amazon River Turtle Hatchlings

Two big-headed Amazon River turtles recently hatched behind the scenes of our Amazon River Forest exhibit.

Our herpetologists report that turtle eggs collected in February and incubated for approximately 100 days hatched late last month. Three weeks later, our newest big-headed Amazon River turtles are doing well and growing strong!

These aquatic turtles are currently enjoying a diet of earthworms, fish and small crickets, but will eventually expand their omnivorous palate to offerings that include aquatic plants and fruits.

Big-headed Amazon River turtles are typically found in Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Venezuela and Ecuador. According to the IUCN Red List, they are considered a vulnerable species. Not much is known about them, but they are a staple food in the Amazon region and populations are threatened by overharvesting.

Four big-headed Amazon River turtles hatched at the National Aquarium in 2014—it is believed that this was the first time the species was successfully hatched in North America!

It’s rare to see these turtles in human care, so this hatching is cause for celebration! The turtles are in good health and are expected to join their six relatives on-exhibit soon.

Keep an eye on our social channels for more updates on baby animals at the Aquarium!

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