First came the eggs, then came the chicken…turtles. These three babies hatched in mid-April from eggs laid back in January by adults in the Delta Swamp exhibit.
Right now, each of these tiny reptiles measures less than two inches long. Adults can reach up to 10 inches in length. The species (Deirochelys reticularia) is characterized by a long neck and unique coloring. Our herpetologists often point out that Chicken Turtles look as if they are wearing striped pants when viewed from behind.
Chicken turtles are a monotypic genus (only one species), and are native to the southeastern U.S. They were once consumed as a food source by people in the southern states – who described the taste as similar to chicken. This, along with their long necks, is believed to be the origin of their common name.
They lay eggs during the winter months with the eggs hatching in the spring. The eggs undergo a diapauses – meaning the eggs don’t develop immediately after laying as with other species of turtles.