Field Frame Friday: Coming Out of Your Shell (Twice!)

Testudo marginata, the Marginated Tortoise, is the largest species of Mediterranean tortoise—although these tortoises start out tiny and humble! Like many other tortoise species the Marginated Tortoise is at risk of extinction in the wild. One component of this species’ conservation is the use of captive breeding programs. To provide the best conditions for new generations of tortoises, captive breeders meticulously consider things like how to get their incubation just right, exploring optimal environmental conditions as well as optimal temperature and humidity parameters. Did you know that for tortoises, like most reptiles, temperature during incubation defines whether they will be born male or female? A tortoise’s pre-hatch experiences can make a lifelong difference!

[Photo and caption by Fabrizio Pirrone]

Editor’s Note: Remember that wildlife, including wildlife eggs, should only be handled by trained researchers! The hatching tortoise above is in the hands of a permitted professional.

[Edited by Ian Ramshorn Haliburton]

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