We weigh in our western painted turtles from our head starting program at the Greater Vancouver Zoo monthly. This allows us to check their body condition and health closely as well as sort them for size. By identifying each individual turtle to its ID sheet via plastron, or belly, photos we can track each individual turtle throughout their development. Grouping turtles by size ensures we are able to establish they are eating and basking without being overrun by larger conspecifics. In doing our first turtle sort of 2021 we came across a turtle we nearly couldn’t believe. We checked, and we double checked and yes…this was a 2020 turtle!

Hogan “the Hulk” turtle! On his hatchling ID picutre you can see his distinctive belly pattern and also how the umbilical scar (yellow patch in the centre) has closed since hatch.

Now normally, our turtles reach releasable size by early summer the year after they hatch. For our 2020 hatchling that means we would expect our very first group of turtles to reach releasable size by June 2021. This group would be the go getters, the real growth superstars, the rest of the hatchlings would come around to releasable size with about 50-60% being released in 2021, with the rest overwintering another year for release in 2022. So you can imagine our awe when “Hogan” one of our 2020 hatchlings released releasable size, a whopping 30.6 grams, right in time for the new year. A whole 7 months earlier than even our optimistic predictions!

2021, the year we are bringing back Hulkamania!