Please send in your good wildlife photos, as the tank drops ever lower.
Reader Divy Figueroa and her husband Ivan Alfonso run an exotic-animal veterinary-care clinic in Florida (often going to the animals, as they treat all sorts), and also keep a number of reptiles (and two cats). Here we see one of their favorite turtles. Divy’s notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
This is a Malayemys subtrijuga, commonly known as the Mekong Snail Eating Turtle, or as we call them, Snail Eaters. Guess what they eat? They are originally from Malaysia, but the story from the Indonesian locals is that they were introduced to Java and Sumatra by the Dutch to eradicate snails. Needless to say, the snails are still around, and so are the Snail Eaters, who thrived and are by now established in the area.
We took a trip to Java a couple of years ago, and got to see them in situ. Ivan wanted to study and document their habitat for a lecture he would be giving later that year, and we wanted to see if we could improve our husbandry skills and care.
These turtles are one of my favorite species in our collection. They are very docile and I love their cute faces.
After several years of infertile egg laying, we hatched three babies in a matter of months. Our firstborn hatched in October, and the second two hatched the following January. We’ve had several successful hatchings since then, but these three little amigos are our pride and joy, and in a few more years should join the breeding group.
This is our firstborn, pipping out of his shell.
The three babies in my hand, right after the 3rd hatched. Notice the difference in size.
The three, about a year after hatching. The first-born will be the smallest once they reach adulthood, as males are smaller than females.
This is one of our adult Snail Eaters, and you can see that the babies are a miniature replica of their parents
A few of our adults on land.
Another pic of our firstborn as he was emerging from the egg.
A female looking to nest in her enclosure. This process can take several days—sometimes up to a week or more.
Snail-Eating habitat in Java. This picture was taken in July during the dry season, when the turtles normally hibernate-aestivate.
How did a picture of Jango get there? 😻