The Arakan forest turtle is a terrestrial species that is currently only known to exist in the bamboo and old growth forests of the Arakan Mountains.
The Tennessee Aquarium announced that it has successfully captive bred and hatched two Arakan forest turtles (Heosemys depressa) at its facility in Chattanooga. According to the zoo, the last time this species was successfully bred in captivity was in 2017, when a single turtle hatched at the Turtle Conservancy in California.
“It feels pretty good to see these guys hatching,” Bill Hughes, the Aquarium’s herpetology coordinator said in an email sent to ReptilesMagazine.com. “This species was managed under a Species Survival Plan, but it’s not anymore because so few zoos and aquariums have Arakan Forest Turtles. I maintain the official records for all of institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that care for this species. I don’t get to do many updates for the book these days, so if nothing else, now I have some data entry to do, and that excites me.”
The parents of these turtles are from a breeding pair that hatched at Zoo Atlanta and were sent to the aquarium as juveniles. The female laid five eggs in November 2022 and the first to emerge hatched out March 23. The second hatched March 27. The remaining three eggs were infertile.
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Arakan Forest Turtle Information
The Arakan forest turtle is a terrestrial species that is currently only known to exist in the bamboo and old growth forests of the Arakan Mountains in southeastern Bangladesh and western Myanmar, formerly Burma. The species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Arakan forest turtle was once thought to have gone extinct in 1908 but reappeared in an Asian meat market in 1994.
The zoo has had success hatching turtles that most people have never heard of. In 2015, the zoo hatched five Beal’s-eyed turtles (Sacalia bealei), an endangered semi-aquatic turtle native to China and Hong Kong. And in May 2019, the zoo hatched four four-eyed turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata) and a single Beal’s four-eyed turtle.