A clutch of 18 freshwater turtle hatchlings surprised Bundaberg Regional Council staff when they began emerging from a garden bed this week.
Known as Krefft's turtles, the tiny reptiles had just hatched in the area at the Botanic Gardens depot when a staff member noticed the action.
“The first baby was spotted heading into the toilets looking for shade,” Botanic Gardens area supervisor Cody Johnson said.
“There were 18 hatchlings all together and each turtle was just slightly bigger than a 50-cent piece.”
Kreffts turtles have called region home for centuries
According to the Australian Museum, this species of short-necked turtle was described by Dr JE Gray of the British Museum of Natural History in 1871.
The first of the turtle specimens were collected from the Burnett River curator Gerard Krefft, who later forwarded them to the British Museum.
The species was therefore named by Dr Gray Chelymys krefftii in honour of Krefft.
Botanic Gardens a great spot for Kreffts turtles
The species was often found in and around lakes in the Botanic Gardens, according to area supervisor Cody, who added the 18 babies were some of many staff had already come across in the area this week.
“They are commonly found above the high water mark in mulched/leaf littered areas but this was unique to find them in our depot garden bed,” he said.
“We returned them to the Botanic Gardens in a safe place protected from common predators.
“Everyone around the office was quite excited to assist them return safely.”
Cody said for those who come across Krefft's turtles in the region, it was important to make sure the species was safe and kept in its natural habitat.
“If the public spot baby turtles far from water bodies and believe they need assistance to get to water please contact DES (1300 130 372) or a wildlife carer (1300 ANIMAL),” he said.
“Also, just a friendly reminder that native turtles are protected and can’t be taken from the wild and kept as pets.”
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