Husbandry and propagation of the Chinese big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Nichole Shelmidine, Brittany Murphy, Katelyn Massarone
Zoo Biology
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Turtles worldwide are facing increasing pressures on their wild populations and many are listed as endangered or critically endangered. Chinese big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) are currently listed on IUCN’s Red List as endangered and on Cites Appendix II. As part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s initiative on turtle and tortoise conservation, this species became a focus for propagation at Prospect Park Zoo (PPZ) in 2008. PPZ successfully bred and obtained eggs, with successful hatchings in 2013 and 2014. The staff fluctuated water and ambient temperatures along with photoperiod in order to simulate seasonal changes. Each May, the female was placed in the male’s enclosure daily for at least 15 min for breeding. Once two confirmed copulations were observed, breeding introductions were discontinued. The female laid her eggs in July and August, and clutch sizes ranged from 5 to 6 eggs. Eggs were successfully incubated in a RCOM Juragon reptile incubator at 23.3°C with 90–95% humidity. The eggs hatched after an average incubation period of 102 days (98–105 days, n = 9). Hatchlings had a mean body mass of 8.84 g (8.11–10 g) and average carapace length × width of 36.17 × 32.20 mm. This article aims to share the team’s experiences working with this species as well as build upon previous publications and successes. Our hope is that with continued efforts to increase our knowledgebase a future viable, sustainable North American captive population will become a reality for this species. Zoo Biol. 35:174–179, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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