August 9, 2018
Welcome, Turtle Hatchling
- as seen by -Micah Siegel
The inquisitive Roti Island snake-necked turtles are certainly unique animals. With their long necks nearly matching the length of their shells, they’re not what most people imagine a turtle would look like.
Currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, this species is named after the Island of Rote in Indonesia, the only island in the world they’re found on. The Island of Rote is small with an area of just 463 square miles, and the snake-necked turtles are found in only a handful of isolated locations. Over collection for the pet trade along with introduced predators, climate change, and habitat loss have contributed to their decline.
In the wild, these turtles make their homes in freshwater lakes and wetlands. Highly adapted to be aquatic predators, their long necks allow them to hunt down live prey such as fish and insects with ease.
Recently the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo welcomed four Roti Island snake-necked turtle hatchlings. This is an exciting first for the herpetology department and hopefully signals the beginning of continued success in hatching these turtles. With so few remaining in the wild, captive breeding programs in both European and US zoos will provide turtles for future reintroduction efforts.