The Houston Zoo welcomed three tortoise hatchlings!
Mr. and Mrs. Pickles are radiated tortoises, like this one.
It’s celebration time at the Houston Zoo in Houston, Texas. In March 2023, the zoo welcomed three tortoise hatchlings (baby tortoises)!
The zoo’s two radiated tortoises, Mr. and Mrs. Pickles, are the dad and mom of the little ones. At age 90, Mr. Pickles is the oldest animal at the zoo. This is the first time he has become a dad. Experts say radiated tortoises can live to be more than 100 years old, but they don’t have very many young. In fact, one of the zoo’s herpetologists, or reptile experts, was surprised to see Mrs. Pickles laying three eggs.
Wild radiated tortoises live in Madagascar, which is an island country off the eastern coast of Africa. They bury their eggs in the soil to protect them until they hatch. But the soil in Houston is different from the soil in Madagascar. Experts knew that Mrs. Pickles’ eggs would not hatch without help from humans.
“The animal care team quickly went to work uncovering the eggs and getting them to the safety of the Reptile & Amphibian House,” the Houston Zoo wrote on its website.
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Baby tortoises are called hatchlings.
The new hatchlings are named Jalapeño, Dill, and Gherkin. They’re not only cute. They’re also very important. In the wild, radiated tortoises are critically endangered, which means they are in danger of dying out.
The zoo staff is getting to know the hatchlings. They’re easy to tell apart. Jalapeño has the darkest shell. Gherkin’s shell has a white dot in the middle. When the little tortoises get big enough, they’ll live with their parents. But they’re already part of the zoo’s family.