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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On me 'ead son: Four-day-old tortoise is riding high as he hitches a lift with mother

By Chris Parsons

Ahead of the game: One of the 5.5cm babies rests in the sunshine on its mother's head

When you're less than 6cm long and only four days old, you can't be blamed for hitching a ride with your parents.

That was certainly the case for this tiny tortoise, which took the chance of a free lift after being placed on its mother's head at Nyiregyhaza Animal Park in Hungary.

The adorable African spurred tortoise was one of eight babies born at the park 226km east of Budapest last week.

Slowly does it: The mother tortoise starts off with her four-day old youngsters riding on her shell

The 5.5cm baby, Geochelone sulcata, who only weighs 25 grams, and its seven siblings are the first African spurred tortoises born at the zoo.

The eight babies had hatched after 115 days, but clearly look like they still need a bit of help getting around.

The spurred tortoise is the largest species of land tortoise in Africa, with the weight of an adult animal sometimes reaching 80kgs.

African spurred tortoises are the third-largest species in the world, behind the Galapagos tortoise and the Aldabra giant tortoise.

Their lifespan is between 30 and 50 years, with the oldest one in captivity thought to have survived to 54.

No head for heights? The baby tortoise appears to have disappeared into its shell after being given a front row seat for the journey

Small wonders: But the baby African spurred tortoises could grow to up to 80 or 90kg as adults



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