Around the Egg in 80 Days!

A few months ago (May), a portion of the female turtle population in our Wetlands was up walking about the landscape looking for suitable locations to lay their eggs. The offspring of those turtles who were successful, and whose eggs weren’t subsequently dug up and eaten by raccoons, are now walking about the Museum’s landscape searching, this time, for water.

One of three Yellow-bellied Sliders seen crossing the path near the Lemur House (7/26-7/27).

I came across two Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta) hatchlings Tuesday afternoon near the end of the day and one the next morning. All were in the area near the Lemur House. The turtles each still had their “egg tooth” and an umbilical scar. The umbilical scar is like our belly button, except that the turtle’s belly button will disappear within a few weeks.

Both egg tooth and umbilical scar are visible on these young turtles. This is the turtle’s first day of life outside of the egg,
A close look at the “egg tooth” on this young slider.

These tiny turtles have spent some eighty days inside eggs and are now ready to hit the waves, or at least the muddy waters of the wetlands.

So, while you’re out walking the paths keep a lookout for these little reptiles. They are quite small and can be easily overlooked, and possibly stepped on. If you see one and just can’t resist picking it up, which I don’t recommend, remember that the shell is still soft at this early age, be gentle.

5 responses to Around the Egg in 80 Days!

  1. Sheri bearden miller says:

    How does the umbilical cord work. Is it like a humans? Does it fall off ?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Good question.
      In terms of function, yes, it is like a human’s. Nutrients are taken in through the area in the photo labeled “umbilical scar.” The scar is actually the site where a yolk sac was attached to the turtle. In humans there is, at first, a yolk sac, but that soon disappears and the placenta takes over the job of supplying nutrients to the fetus through the umbilical cord.
      Since there is no adult involved in the birth of a turtle, other than laying the egg, there’s no need for a long umbilical. The yolk sac is attached directly to the fetus even after the egg hatches. It soon falls off on its own.

  2. Molly says:

    They are so tiny!! How long do they have the egg tooth and how does it go away?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      I don’t know for sure just how long the egg tooth is sported by the little turtles. I’ve read accounts of anywhere from an hour or two after hatching to 5-7 days.
      Whichever length of time is correct, the “tooth” will simply fall off on its own.
      Thanks, Molly and Kimberly.

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