Bites at Animal Planet


23 Oct

Abe the Sea Turtle Released Back into the Wild


VLM Abe Sea Turtle 101915 (8)
Photo courtesy of Virginia Living Museum 

On Wednesday, October 21, the Virginia Living Museum released their 4-year-old loggerhead sea turtle, Abe, back into the ocean! The release happened off of Atlantic Beach, N.C. Abe originally came from North Carolina Aquariums as part of a partnership the aquariums have in caring for and raising juvenile loggerheads.

Their efforts begin even before these turtles hatch. Loggerhead nests are federally protected and are watched over by volunteers and institutions. As the babies hatch, healthy turtles are left alone to make their way to the ocean, while weak ones are taken to be cared for in a safer environment. Once they are strong enough, the turtles are then released back into their natural habitat!

Abe Release-97
Photo courtesy of Virginia Living Museum 

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22 Oct

Pig-Nosed Turtle Fossil Found in Utah

The fossil of an unusual new extinct species has been discovered in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: a turtle, measuring about two feet in length, with a pig-like nose. Arvinachelys goldeni, as the species has been named, lived alongside the dinosaurs 76 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period

76 million years ago, Utah was a very different place. It was covered in swamps, rivers, and bayous and had a climate to match.

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So how do researchers know this turtle had a pig nose? According to the University of Texas at Austin, instead of one nasal opening with a fleshy division of the nostrils, this turtle has two bony nasal openings.

“Anatomically, it’s one of the most bizarre turtles that ever lived,” said Joshua Lively in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. “More importantly, it adds to a growing story about ecosystem dynamics during the Late Cretaceous across western North America.” Lively studied this fossil as part of his master's thesis at the University of Utah.

For more about this species, read all of Lively's thesis on the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

Although Jeremy Wade specializes in fishing, he knows a thing or two about fossils, too! See how fossil hunting is similar to fishing here:

20 Oct

Little Tortoise Goes Ham on Big Tomato

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Anna Swartz from

This might be the cutest snacktime ever. Look how happy this little tortoise is to have a tomato all to himself — he just needs a little help keeping it steady ... 

That tomato may be small, but it's at least twice the size of the tortoise's little head. So this must be like, the best day ever for him.

"C'mere tomato ... I'm gonna eat you up!!"

Someday he's going to eat that whole thing. Maybe.

Watch the full video below:

Not only can these creatures scarf down fruits and veggies like nobody's business, they're actually quite quicker on their feet than you'd think. 

19 Oct

Tiniest Tortoises are Cutest Twins Ever

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Ameena Schelling from

What's better than a baby tortoise? Two baby tortoises, obviously.

Chris Leone, founder of tortoise breeding and conservation group Garden State Tortoise LLC, was waiting for a clutch of western Hermann's tortoise eggs to hatch this week when he noticed one of the hatchlings was having trouble getting out of his egg. While Leone doesn't usually assist in the hatching process, something prompted him to step in — and he found the cutest little surprise.

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Inside were two teeny tiny tortoise twins, who were both attached to the same yolk as the larger one tried to break out. They were "perfectly formed" and healthy, Leone said, describing them as "little beauties" in a Facebook post.

And they certainly are — right down to their little matching tortoise claws.

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7 Oct

Sea Turtles Wear Little Swimsuits For an Important Cause

(Guest post by Stephen Messenger from

Why is this little loggerhead sea turtle sporting a tiny one-piece? So he can poop in it, that's why.

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Photo Credit: Flickr/University of Queensland

In hopes of better understanding the feeding habits of one of world's most endangered marine species, researcher Owen Coffee from the University of Queensland, in Australia, recently set out to find clues in the animals' fecal matter. But while the concept might sound simple enough, getting his hands on sea turtle scat proved no easy task.

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28 Sep

Florida Woman 'Rides' Protected Sea Turtle, Shares Photos, is Arrested

After photos of a woman "riding" a sea turtle went viral through the popular Snap Chat app earlier this summer, Melbourne Police reported via Facebook that they had arrested the woman Saturday morning on a felony warrant.

According to the report, the photos of two women "flooded social media networks" and many people forwarded complaints to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Washington Post reported that police officers responded to a separate disturbance call and identified the woman as 20-year-old Stephanie Moore.

Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Florida's Marine Turtle Protection Act. Florida's east-central shoreline, where Melbourne beach is located, is “the second most important nesting beach in the world,” according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. According to CBS News, 90 percent of the United States' population of sea turtles call that stretch of beach home.

Watch as Jeff Corwin works to protect sea turtle nests:

21 Sep

Hellabrunn Zoo Celebrates Birth of Indian Rhino Calf

Photo Credit: Hellabrunn Zoo/Marc Müller

The Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich is proud to present their new baby Indian Rhino, born on August 31! This not-yet-named male calf was born to mother Rapti and father Niko and presented to the public earlier this month. His birth is very important to the conservation efforts being made to preserve his species.

Photo Credit: Hellabrunn Zoo/Marc Müller

There are under 3,000 of this species left, which makes them considered vulnerable, but not yet endangered. The Indian Rhino, or Great One-Horned Rhino, is native to India and Nepal. It is the largest of the three rhino species and only has one nasal horn as opposed to two. Its survival has been threatened by habitat loss and poaching for its horn, which is thought to have medicinal value, though that has not been proven true

The zoo is asking for suggestions for the name of the calf. The only requirement is that it must start with P and reference Rapti's native country, Nepal. Congratulations to the Hellabrunn Zoo!

Learn more about the efforts being made in rhino conservation here:

19 Sep

Cat and Turtle Play Tag

We often think of reptiles as slow and kind of dumb, plodding through life on nothing but instinct and with little propensity for unique interactions with other species. This video of a cat and a turtle playing a game of tag is a great example of the fact that furry and feathered animals don't have the market cornered when it comes to this kind of behavior.

It's hard for me to say what's actually going on here. A turtle of this size wouldn't think of feeding on an animal as large as the cat, so it's not displaying predatory behavior. It's not fleeing from the cat as a potential predator. The turtle couldn't be confused and trying to engage the cat as a mate. Turtles aren't generally territorial, and besides, this is an aquatic species that normally lives in ponds, so trying to defend turf on a cement patio makes no sense.

Cat and Turtle

That leaves me with only one other conclusion: the turtle is playing with the cat. The cat is clearly engaging in play behavior, but reptiles generally don't play the same way that mammals do, or at least we don't interpret their normal behavior as such.

Maybe this video is evidence otherwise? What do you think? 

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation.


13 Sep

Meet the Fastest Tortoise in the World

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Caitlin Jill Anders from

The 2016 Guinness Book of World Records winners were just announced, and there are definitely some shockers. There's a dog who can catch multiple soccer balls in under a minute, a cow with exceptionally long horns — and the fastest tortoise in the whole world.


That's right: There's a tortoise who ISN'T slow — well, at least, not slow for a tortoise. Bertie, the Guinness Book of World Records winner, was called the Usain Bolt of tortoises by CNN. Bertie lives in England with his owner, and can go 0.6 miles per hour. For a tortoise, that's REALLY fast.

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18 Aug

Plastic Straw Removed from Sea Turtle's Nose

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Ameena Schelling from

Warning: some of these images may be considered graphic

One look at this turtle and you will never litter again.

Turtle researcher Nathan Robinson and his colleague, Chris Figgener, were looking for mating sea turtles off the coast of Costa Rica when they came across an olive ridley sea turtle with something odd up his nose.

Robinson, who's currently studying creatures who live on sea turtles, originally thought it was a tubeworm. But when he tried to pull it out, he realized it was something quite different. 

Nathan Robinson 

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Pit Bulls and Parolees







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