The baby African Spur-Thigh Tortoise has managed to make an exit from his shell with his egg tooth, which will disappear after hatching. Taking a look at the bright new world he is about to enter, he emerges! Moms are nowhere to be seen, and the young are ready to survive on their own with a yolk sack that will give them nutrition for the first couple of days.
Cleaned up a little, this new hatchling shows the prominence of his nose and you can just see the egg tooth underneath it on the left forward part.
The scales on his legs are raised and a natural defense mechanism, while on the back feet (not shown) there are two spurs that are used to defend himself. He will eat grasses, fruit and vegetables during his life, and at one point a meal will be 6lb of romaine lettuce and extra vegetables.
Ready to go and explore, the hatchling has been cleaned up and can start his journey in the brave new world he has entered. He will grow to be a big boy fairly quickly, from 6-10 inches across within a few years. But as we know with teenagers, there is a second growth spurt after that – which makes it lucky these little guys don’t need expensive clothes. By the time he is done, he can top 200lbs and will look something like this, the largest mainland tortoise in the world:
The miracle of a tortoise birth, from a tiny little thing just an inch or two long, only just able to free himself from the egg and then survive on his own to reach his adult size. They are absolutely adorable creatures who peacefully go about their lives – giving us much pleasure should we catch a glimpse of them.