Albino Mutant (not Ninja) Turtles

October 21, 2013 Comments Off on Albino Mutant (not Ninja) Turtles

What’s smaller than a house key, is painted but still lacks color?

This little guy.

This is one of two albino western painted turtles at Great Lakes Aquarium.

This is the other one.

  A woman in St. Paul found five albino hatchlings in her backyard.  Concerned about their ability to survive in the wild, she called the Department of Natural Resources.  The DNR came to her house and collected the turtles.  Shortly after that, two of them were placed here.  

The head of herpetology at the DNR felt Great Lakes Aquarium would be able to provide a life-long home for them and the turtles, in turn, would offer an educational opportunity to our students and the public. 

The genetic mutation behind albinism causes a lack of pigment in the skin – making these turtles appear white with red eyes.  However, their bottom shell (the plastron) still has markings of red and orange typical of Western Painted Turtles.
And these babies are growing!  When they arrived at Great Lakes Aquarium, a little over a month ago, they weighed approximately 4 grams each.  Today, one weighed in at 5.7 grams, the other 5.9 grams.  They’re still tiny, adorable, and yes, smaller than a house key.

Currently, the albino western painted turtles live in a tank located in one of our classrooms.  They will need to grow in a healthy, protected environment for many years before they’re able to go out on exhibit.  However, discussions are underway to build a space for them in front of the classroom window so they can be visible to the public.

If you’d like to learn more about these turtles, tune in to KBJR news, channel 6, tonight (Monday, Oct. 21) at 6pm.  They’ll be featured on Nature Matters.