Creature feature red-footed tortoise a thing of mystery pueblo chieftain austin electricity outage


In the case of reptiles and some birds, the genitalia may not be visible at all, making it harder to tell the sex without a DNA test or other tricks of the trade. Many in the animal kingdom display "sexual dimorphism" which are physical characteristics or behaviors that distinguish gender. (For example, male birds are often more brightly colored than females and their song and movements may be different.)

In some animals, these characteristics may take a while to develop, as is the case with our young Hercules. Male tortoises usually start to develop a curve in their bottom shell (plastron) as they grow, which is helpful in the logistics of mating when the male climbs on top of a female’s shell. We expect that we may see this type of development in Hercules in the next year or so.

People who work with specific types of animals a lot may have "tricks" to help them guess at sex determination. However, complete accuracy is often not possible without further growth and development, or even a specific blood test. This is why in our history at the zoo we have had a male bull snake named Doris, a male penguin named Mona, and a male eagle named Keisha.

Our most current mystery involves another Goliath — of the feathered type. Our hyacinth macaws, Goliath and Delilah, seem to be laying twice as many eggs as normal, with none of them getting fertilized. Our keepers are suspecting that the two birds have more in common than we thought. Only a test will tell now.

Description: Red-footed tortoises have a variety of different colorings, depending on their locality. The primary color on the skin is black, with red or orange colored scales on the legs and face. The legs are clubbed at the end, as the red-footed tortoise is terrestrial.

The main feature of all turtles and tortoises is their hard shell. The shell is part of the body and cannot be removed, as some people think. Tortoises are able to feel when the shell is touched, much in the same way that we can sense when our fingernails are touched. The spine and ribs run along the inside of the shell. The top part of the shell is called the carapace; the bottom is called the plastron. It grows with the tortoise throughout its life.

Reproduction and rearing: Breeding occurs during the spring. Males approach other tortoises and exhibit a bobbing head movement. If the other tortoise is a male, he will respond with the same bobbing and the two will battle, seeking to overturn the other. If it is a female, she will not respond.

The female will lay between 5 and 15 eggs in a nest that she’s made. There is no parental care, so the eggs must be well hidden. After approximately 150 days, the eggs will hatch and the hatchlings are responsible for finding their own food. Sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. Temperatures above 88 degrees produce females. Incubation at below 82 degrees results in males. Anything in between those two markers results in mixed sexes.

Conservation Status: The IUCN Redlist has not assessed the red-footed tortoise; however, populations may face issues due to habitat loss, as well as predation by humans. Red-footed tortoises are often eaten by people, particularly by Catholics in South American during Lent, as the tortoises are not considered to be meat by the Catholic Church.