Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Cousin: The Marginated Tortoise

The Marginated Tortoise is a unique looking tortoise because of its extremely flared marginal scutes from which it gets its name. The males’ marginal scutes are usually much more flared than on the female, appearing as a "brim" of sorts.

Wild caught specimens of this tortoise used to be a commonly imported tortoise but is now not imported at all as wild caught tortoises because it is protected throughout its range. Because of successful breeding in captivity it is now becoming more commonly available as captive born tortoises.

The Marginated Tortoise grows from 8 to 12 lbs and can live more than 20 years. They are found in the hilly and mountainous areas of the Southern Balkan Peninsula and Greece.

Marginated tortoises are very cold tolerant and should be maintained at a temperature range of 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit at the basking site. If temperatures fall below this they will be inclined to hibernate which they do in the wild when the seasons dictate it.

These tortoises are opportunistic feeders in that they will take the usual dark leafy greens, weeds and some grasses. They are not known to be very active grazers. Marginateds are also known to consume insects, snails and carrion. In captivity they can be fed dark leafy greens, fibrous fruits such as pears and apples in addition to various berries. The main idea is to feed as varied as possible. Clean fresh water in a water dish should be provided at all times.

One important note on breeding is that the marginated tortoise is one of the most aggressive tortoises when it comes to breeding. Aggressive ramming towards the female can be so severe that female marginateds have been killed in the process.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nature Getting Along Nicely

Please note that the rodent, named Cheesecake, is a "capybara"
and the world’s largest (and possibly most stoic-looking) rodent

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Cousin: The Impressed Tortoise

Impressed Tortoises are one of the most unique of the tortoise chelonian species. Though currently rare in private and zoo collections, a large amount of work is taking place on the species in a wide variety of arenas including disease detection, taxonomy and work at the Chengdu Zoo in central China.

The Impressed Tortoise remains something of an enigma, with very little known about the species either in the wild or in captivity. This tortoise can be identified by its relatively flattened carapace, which has a strongly serrated rim and concave scutes, from which the common and scientific names derive.

The carapace is a pale horn to dull orange color, with brown coloring at the center of each scute, blending into darker radiating streaks towards the edges, which contrast starkly with the pale under-color. These markings fade with age, however, and older adults may be nearly uniformly horn colored. While the limbs and tail are dark brown to black, the head is a conspicuous yellow to tan with pink pigment around the snout of some individuals.

It has been reported that this species is from extreme southern Yunnan Province with localities in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, with a habitat to be fairly dry and generally away from the water bodies, so this tortoise relies instead on dew or rain-drenched vegetation.

While there are many species that have difficulties adjusting to captivity, this species is far and away the toughest of all, with almost 100% mortality rate among those caught.

The Impressed tortoise is declining in the wild due to exploitation for the Chinese and Vietnamese food markets, and habitat loss as the result of agricultural expansion and uncontrolled forest fires. Additionally, the tortoise’s collection for the pet trade seems to have grown in recent decades.