Small change: Quartet of week-old baby tortoises the size of 20 pence pieces


Quite a handful: The little hatchlings cradled in the palm of a keeper

These four baby tortoises have been pulling in the crowds this Bank Holiday - causing quite a stir considering each of them is little bigger than a 20 pence piece.
Marwell Wildlife, near Winchester, Hampshire, boasts giraffes, zebras and ostriches, but this weekend was all about the smaller side of the animal kingdom.
Now just over a week old, the smallest of the hatchlings was even lighter than a 20p coin, at just 3.1 grams.
He and the three others, all critically endangered Egyptian tortoises, went on display to the public for the first time on May 4 and are proving popular with visitors. Trainee keeper Kimberley Goodfield said: 'This is the first time babies have been born in five years.
'Until now we haven’t really had the space to incubate or care for newborns.

Star attraction: These tiny Egyptian tortoises are just over a week old and have been at the centre of attention at Marwell Wildlife, Hampshire

She added: 'These babies have come from two different females - it was really exciting when we discovered they were pregnant.
'They began searching for a nest so we gave them a little help and prepared the enclosure for them.'
The eggs were quickly transferred to an incubator soon after being laid in the tortoise enclosure.

Featherweight: The smallest of the brood was born at just 3.1 grams, making it even lighter than a 20p coin

Starting out: He may be tiny for now, but this species can grow to nearly six inches long and live up to 50 years

Staff made sure they were kept in controlled conditions - a temperature of 30 degrees and 75 per cent humidity.
And, after 111 days, they were delighted to discover the eggs had begun to hatch.
Miss Goodfield was lucky enough to see the hatching first hand.
She said: 'The first time I visited the incubator one had already come through. It was a real shock because the previous day there had been no signs of hatching.
'The next day two others began to emerge. I’ve never seen tortoises hatching before.
'It was so interesting seeing them making holes in their shells to get out.'
The babies will now be kept separate from the adults for a few years until they are old enough to fend for themselves in the enclosure.

Slow and steady: Despite their size, the quartet took 111 days to hatch

Coming out of his shell: Also known as a Kleinmann's tortoise, this baby had to be hatched in carefully controlled hot and humid conditions

A closer look: Visitors to the park will be able to watch the tortoises exploring their new surroundings in a quarantine tank

They are currently in a quarantine tank where members of the public can watch them exploring their new surroundings.
Miss Goodfield said: 'They are adorable, so cute and tiny. They’ve had a great response from visitors.'
She added: 'They’re not quite old enough to fend for themselves with the adults in the enclosure.
'For now we will keep them separate. 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 nearly six inches long and weigh 500 grams.

source: dailymail