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Tiny tortoises making a big impression at Winchester park
3:30pm Tuesday 8th May 2012 in News
KEEPERS at a wildlife park have welcomed a quartet of new baby tortoises that are as small as a 20 pence piece.
The tiny arrivals are the first in five years at Marwell Wildlife, near Winchester.
Just over a week old, the critically endangered Egyptian tortoises have gone on display to the public for the first time and are proving popular with visitors.
Staff made sure that as eggs they were kept in controlled conditions – a temperature of 30C (86F) degrees and 75 per cent humidity. After 111 days they were delighted to discover they had begun to hatch.
The babies will be kept separate from the adults for a few years until they are old enough to fend for themselves in the enclosure.
They are currently in a quarantine tank where members of the public can watch them exploring their new surroundings.
Trainee keeper Kimberley Goodfield said: “They are adorable, so cute and tiny. They’ve had a great response from visitors.
“We have to be very gentle with them because they’re so small and their shells are not very hard yet.”
The Egyptian tortoise, also called the Kleinmann’s tortoise, is the smallest in the northern hemisphere.
Adults live for up to 50 years. They can grow to around six inches (15cm) long and weigh around 18 ounches (500g).