Scientists Try To Impregnate Last Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle Known To Exist

June 5, 2015

Scientists say that the Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is just a few deaths away from extinction if the only known female in the world dies or fails to reproduce. The turtle, named China Girl, is more than 100 years old and to make matters more dire, there are only three known surviving males of the species.

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Yangtze Disappointment

The female has laid eggs in the past but they proved to be infertile. The latest attempt was to breed her with a male whose genitals had been damaged, so to get semen out of him, according to CNN, they tried to get him to ejaculate by hand, and when that didn’t work, they tried a vibrator, and then finally electric current, which to the joy of the scientists, worked. 

The team at the Suzhou Zoo in China then artificially inseminated the female with the male’s sperm and are in the process of waiting a few weeks for the hatching the take place. It is then that they will be able to determine if the eggs are viable. 

The critically endangered species sports a pig-like snout and eyes that are on top of its head. A freshwater species, it is the largest freshwater turtle in the world and weighs between 150-200 lbs. It can grow to more than 40 inches in length and 28 inches in width. Hopefully, more of these turtles will be discovered in the wild.  

John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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