Behind-the-scenes at Perth Zoo our keepers in the Native Species Breeding Program are being kept busy with several Western Swamp Tortoises hatching from their eggs.

There are about 60 eggs, which is a huge number and they are all expected to hatch by late May.

Once the hatchling has broken out of its shell our keepers give it a quick health check that includes measuring and recording its size. The little tortoise is then given a very unique marking on its shell with a brightly coloured nail polish, which will allow our keepers to identify who’s who.

In the video below are a couple of the hatchlings taken out to the ponds for their very first swim.

Perth Zoo keeper, Bradie Durell said a lot of patience is required as they will keep an eye on each hatchling until it has entered the water and come up to the surface. Just to ensure they’ve got their water legs and breathing down pat. In true tortoise style, sometimes this can take up to 45 minutes.

Some hatchlings are more confident than others, with some eager to explore and others staying tucked in to their shell for a while longer.

The Western Swamp Tortoise is Australia’s most critically endangered reptile but we have been working hard to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.

Since 1989 Perth Zoo have worked with the Department of Parks and Wildlife to breed and release more than 600 Western Swamp Tortoises into protected reserves.

It was recently reported that volunteer program, Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise, have identified two hatchlings that have not come from Perth Zoo in one of the reserves. Great news revealing that this species is gradually thriving in their wild habitats.

As for our new hatchlings at Perth Zoo, they will get to enjoy their comfy ponds here for at least another three years.