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NEW FROM
THE ECHO BLOG

LESSONS FROM THE PACIFIC COAST, THE HATFIELD CENTER, NEWPORT, OREGON

POSTED JULY 28 AT 11:06 AM

The following blog was…

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FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

 
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
Contact: Steven Leibman
802-864-1848 ext. 125
sleibman@echovermont.org


 
TINY TURTLES GET SECOND CHANCE

(BURLINGTON, VT) — When you come to ECHO this winter, you'll be in for a treat - 76 baby map turtles are being raised in the Animal Care room on the second floor; each one no larger than a silver dollar. Found by Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Parren, these tiny turtles had little chance for surviving in the wild after their nests were disturbed by a predator, but ECHO Animal Care staff and volunteers, in partnership with Vermont Fish and Wildlife, are giving them a second chance.

The turtles were about three weeks old when found in-and-around their excavated nests in late October. Map turtles are known to hibernate throughout the winter and these critters probably would have been fine if left in their nests. Having been dug up, however - perhaps by a fox or raccoon, or some other predator - they likely would not have survived on their own. Steve Parren - who is the Coordinator of Vermont's Non-Game and Natural Heritage Program - gathered the babies up and brought them to ECHO.

The turtles were so young, many still sported a tiny egg tooth on their beaks, and even showed the little bumps of yolk sacs, which are basically the food packages turtles feed off of while in their eggs and retain for nutrition a short time after. The turtles were closely watched to see when they would be ready for food - this being the most critical period of adjustment. When they finally started eating, there was a real sigh of relief.

The little turtles, like all ECHO animals, are receiving a varied, balanced diet: One day they might dine on escarole and red worms, and another day might feature dandelion greens and diced night crawlers. "They are very curious and will try to taste anything that comes their way," says Steve Smith, Director of Animal Care and Facilities at ECHO.

The turtles seem to be developing nicely, with all of the original group still healthy and accounted for. They crawl and swim about their tank, sometimes basking on a rock under the "sun" (a heat lamp), other times preferring a swim to the shady side. And once in awhile you might even find one hitching a ride around the tank on a sibling's back!

"We'll house these guys until the weather is suitable," Steve says. "Probably early June or so. We think they'll have about doubled in size by then." That would make each one about the size of a muffin. "Some people seem concerned that they wouldn't have learned how to protect themselves in the wild; that they'll be easy prey after living here so long, but turtles are very instinctive animals. They hatch after their parents have moved on, and seem to know what they need to survive on their own. Their behaviors are 'hardwired.' This is basically like an animal Head Start Program - we'll get them started, release them where they were found, and then they're on their own."


ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is Vermont’s world-class Lake Aquarium and Science Center, on the beautiful Burlington Waterfront. ECHO features over 60 species of live fish, amphibians and reptiles, with more than 100 hands-on exhibits, and hosts traveling exhibits several times a year. The site also highlights the Lake Champlain Navy Memorial and heroic “Lone Sailor” statue. For more information on ECHO, visit our website at www.echovermont.org, call Toll-Free 1-877-ECHOFUN, or write to ECHO, One College Street, Burlington, VT 05401.

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