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Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Courtship

Mating

  • Seasonality
    • Most common June to September, but occurs throughout the year in managed care (Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011; Platt et al. 2017)
  • Behavior
    • Male may follow female for about 30 min prior to copulation (Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011)

Reproduction

General

  • Sexual maturity
    • Approximately 6 to 8 years of age (Platt et al. 2017; Praschag et al. 2020)
  • Sex ratios
    • Influenced by temperature during egg incubation (i.e., temperature-dependent sex determination) (Kuchling et al. 2011)
      • Balanced sex ratio at approximately 30°C (86°F)

Incubation and Hatching

Egg laying

  • Eggs laid from late September to mid-May (observations from conservation breeding groups in Myanmar’s Dry Zone) (Kalyar Platt et al. 2014; Platt et al. 2017)
    • Thanda Swe (2004) noted egg laying from mid-October through late February
  • Egg description
    • Large and elongate (Smith 1931)
      • 55 x 40 mm (2.2 x 1.6 in) (Smith 1931)
    • White (Kalyar Platt et al. 2014; Platt and Platt 2020)
  • Nest
    • Shallow hole in the ground (14 x 15 x 9 cm) (Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011; Kalyar Platt et al. 2014)
  • Clutch size (observations from conservation breeding groups in Myanmar’s Dry Zone)
    • 4 to 7 eggs per clutch, on average (range typically 1 to 11) (Kuchling et al. 2011; Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011; Kalyar Platt et al. 2014)
      • Possibly up to 16 eggs per clutch (Kuchling et al. 2011)
    • Clutch size increases with female body size (Platt et al. 2011)
    • Platt et al. (2019) observed a large female lay 26 eggs in 4 clutches (Table 1)
  • Interclutch interval
    • Females lay 1 to 4 clutches per breeding season (Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011; Platt et al. 2017; Platt et al. 2019)
      • Possibly up to 6 clutches for large females; needs confirmation (Praschag et al. 2020; S.G. Platt, personal communication, 2022)

Incubation and hatching

  • Incubation period
    • 197 days, on average (range: 172 to 251) (Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011)
  • Weight at hatching
    • About 15 g (0.5 oz) (S.G. Platt, personal communication, 2022)
  • Timing of hatching
    • In Myanmar, mid-May to late July (Thanda Swe 2004, cited by Platt et al. 2011)
      • Coincides with onset of wet season

Longevity

In the wild

  • Possibly more than 50 years (Praschag et al. 2020)

In managed care

  • At least 35 to 40 years (ZIMS 2022)

Mortality and Health

Survival rates

  • Juvenile survival in the wild likely low; typical of long-lived tortoises (Platt and Platt 2021)
  • Hatching and post-release survival of head-start programs high (Kalyar Platt et al. 2014; Platt and Platt 2017; Platt and Platt 2020)

Predators

  • Wild pig, Sus scrofa (Platt and Platt 2020; Platt et al. 2021)
  • Eurasian golden jackal, Canis aureus (Platt et al. 2015; Platt et al. 2021)
  • Rats (Platt et al. 2015; Platt et al. 2017)
  • Possible predators (direct observation still needed)
    • Snakes and birds (Platt et al. 2021)
    • Large cats (Platt et al. 2018)

Accidental death

  • Some individuals injured or die during wildfires (Platt et al. 2001; Platt et al. 2003)

Diseases (non-comprehensive list)

  • Mycoplasma (N. Haislip, personal communication, 2022)
  • Ranavirus detected in G. platynota in managed care (Johnson et al. 2008)

Parasites (non-comprehensive list)

  • Few studies (Platt et al. 2011)
  • Ticks (Robbins and Platt 2000)
  • Roundworms, tapeworms, flukes, and protozoans known from managed care (Kalyar Platt et al. 2014)

Nest is a Shallow Hole

BST lays eggs in Myanmar assurance colony

A Burmese Star Tortoise lays eggs at a conservation colony in Myanmar.

Females typically lay 4 to 7 eggs per clutch.

Image credit: Steven G. Platt, © WCS/TSA Myanmar Turtle Program. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Hatching

Burmese Star Tortoise hatchling emerges from egg

In Myanmar, egg hatching coincides with the onset of the wet season.

Image credit: Me Me Soe, © WCS/TSA Myanmar Turtle Program. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Make an Eggscape

Burmese star tortoise hatchling

Hatchlings seek cover to avoid rats, wild pigs, and other predators.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

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