Bites at Animal Planet


20 Jan

Vietnam's Sacred Turtle Found Dead in Hanoi

A deceased Yangtze giant softshell turtle has been found in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. The turtle weighed about 440 pounds and is estimated to be around 100 years old.

This turtle is a legendary symbol in Vietnam and news of its death has lead to country-wide grief. There was only one of this species of turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake, and it was thought to be Kim Qui, or the Golden Turtle God

However, this turtle's death does not just have superstitious significance; this species is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. This was one of only four Yangtze giant softshell turtles left in the whole world. One resides in another lake in Vietnam and two others live in a zoo in China. Intensive breeding efforts are being made with the pair in China to help save the species.

Tim McCormack of the Asian Turtle Program told AFP that these turtles are "possibly the rarest species on the planet and definitely the rarest turtle species...[This loss is] a great blow."

Learn more about endangered species here and take the pledge to #StartWith1Thing to help save the world's animals.

15 Jan

Weird Weather in North Carolina Displaces 600 Juvenile Turtles

Last week, temperatures in North Carolina plummeted 30 degrees. The drastic drop caused havoc in the ocean, shocking the systems of over 600 juvenile turtles and leaving them "cold stunned".

According to Michele Lamping, a aquarist at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, the condition is similar to hypothermia. The turtle is unable to move, floats to the surface of the ocean and is at the mercy of the water current.  

"Some turtles wash ashore, others can be harmed by predators and in some cases, the turtles may die," Lamping added.

Luckily, rescuers were alerted in time to save a large majority of the distressed turtles. They caught more than 600 in two days, CNN originally reported. They were distributed to three aquariums and Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City.

Population explosion at the sea turtle hospital. Major cold stunning along the North Carolina coast. Pictures of lots...

Posted by The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Thursday, January 7, 2016

"We want to get as many of them back out there so they can continue their life and have adulthood and reproduce just like all the other turtles," Lamping told WCTI12.

While the fate of the rescued turtles is currently unknown, the North Carolina Aquarium posted a series of tweets yesterday that suggest some of the turtles have been released back into the warmer waters.


Unfortunately, this occurrence is a growing trend along the east coast, which saw unusually warm temperatures in November and December. According to Fox5News in New York, 42 turtles have been rescued this month, with only 13 surviving. 


14 Jan

Baby Sea Turtle Trapped in Trash Gets a Hand Just in Time

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Caitlin Jill Anders from

A surfer named Edden Ram and his friends came across a sight this past summer that is still making the rounds on social media today — a tiny sea turtle, caught in human trash and fighting to survive.

The sweet sea turtle was clearly scared, both of whatever he was stuck in and of the people trying to save his life. He thrashed against his rescuers, flashing his terrified eyes for the camera.

The trash, whatever it was, was stuck to the little guy pretty tightly, and it seemed to take forever to even get close to freeing him, but the good Samaritans never gave up.

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21 Dec

Turtle Learns That Food is the Way to Sea Cow’s Heart

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Solon Kelleher from

Everybody tries to stick to his diet. But sometimes you just see something so delicious ... and if it's RIGHT in front of you?! It's hard to resist.

Usually, dugongs stick to a diet of underwater grasses, but this one appears to have found something even more delectable.

While it may look like he's sniffing out to see how the turtle tastes, he's much more interested in eating what the turtle has on his back: algae.

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16 Dec

Turtle Found with Plastic Fork in Her Nose

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Ameena Schelling from

Another turtle has been found with a piece of discarded plastic lodged up her nose.

Back in August, turtle researcher Nathan Robinson found an olive ridley sea turtle off the coast of Costa Rica with a straw sticking out his face. Footage of the team's painful efforts to remove the straw went viral, along with pleas to reconsider using single-use plastic.

Everyone was optimistic that it was a one-time incident. But unfortunately, just a few months later, it's happened again.

This time, Robinson was working with a turtle on Costa Rica's Playa Ostional when a tourist ran up to the research team begging for help: A turtle had been spotted with something stuck up her nose.

The researchers jumped into action. "We kind of looked each other and grabbed our equipment and ran," Robinson told The Dodo. "I kind of had the thought like, what is in this sea turtle's nose? It can't be another straw."

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4 Dec

Don't Read About the Most Adorable Baby Animals of 2015

WARNING: If you suffer from cute aggression, please do not continue reading. If you are in a public place and are prone to loud squealing and high-pitched shrieks, please do not continue reading. If you are already in an emotional state, please do not continue reading. 

For those capable of handling it, here are the most adorable, the most precious, and the most painfully cute babies that took over the internet and invaded our hearts this year.

Prague's New Tapir: When have you seen a little creature with such intricate markings? And that little face? Not fair.


Bei Bei the Panda: His name means “precious, treasure” because... duh. Thanks First Lady Michelle Obama!


Rescued Baby Moose: Her wobbly legs are terribly endearing, but just wait until you hear her little whimper. Just wait.

Sumatran Tiger Cubs: Two rare cubs born within days of each other to sister Tigers at two different zoos in Florida stole our hearts and made us really sad to think about their declining numbers in the wild. Look at those little paws! 


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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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 9.55.09 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 3.10.18 PM

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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