Brit hatches rare miniature tortoise named ‘Tortoisekhamun’ the size of 2p coin

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A Brit has hatched a rare miniature tortoise which is about the size of a 2p coin.

Fraser Gilchrist has been taking part in a captive breeding programme aimed at saving miniature tortoises from extinction.

There are only around 7,500 of the endangered animals living in the wild, confined to a small coastal strip in Libya, the Daily Record reports.

Egyptian tortoises are threatened by pollution, habitat destruction and poaching while the illegally collected animals can also be found in Egyptian and Libyan markets.

Fraser's baby tortoise was born in Cowie, Stirling in Scotland.

He said: "I feel incredibly proud and privileged to have hatched this little tortoise – and especially since it’s the very first Egyptian tortoise ever to be produced in Scotland.

"I hope to be able to swap some of the young I produce with other breeders of this species in the hope of diversifying my own group and thus safeguarding the long-term survival of this species.

"There are two other sites that house this species – Calderglen Zoo (in Glasgow) and another private keeper – but I am the first person to have bred them in Scotland.

"Edinburgh Zoo historically kept this species but never managed to breed them which is why I am so proud of this achievement.

"No name has been chosen yet, but my wife Deborah keeps calling him, or her, Tortoisekhamun after the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun."

Fraser, 41, started off with four Egyptian tortoises from the reptile and amphibian conservation body European Studbook Foundation – one male (Giza) and three females (Suez, Alexandria and Sharm El-Sheikh) just before Christmas 2019.

He then added another two in September 2020 – a male named Luxor and a female named Cairo.

Fraser added: "At this stage it is impossible to tell whether this little one is male or female due to its diminutive size. It won’t be for another two to three years before I can tell.

"On the day of hatching the little one weighed 4g and measured 28mm in length and is a perfect replica of its parents.

"As this hatchling was a ‘surprise’ it is impossible to tell who the mother and father are."

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