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A rare glimpse of a red-footed tortoise laying her eggs offered a little welcome reprieve from coronavirus gloom recently. The female reptile was spotted by local environmentalists in the Cobbs Cross area.

Tortoises usually lay between two and seven eggs, five to six weeks after mating. They use the shovel-like design of their feet to dig a hole in the ground. Once all the eggs are laid, she will refill the nest, smoothing the surface afterwards to camouflage it from intruders.

The eggs hatch eight to 10 weeks later.

Red-footed tortoises are native to South America and inhabit many Caribbean islands. It is believed they were brought to the islands by Amerindians thousands of years ago.

They are popular as pets in some countries but their over-collection has made them vulnerable to extinction.
The creatures are more commonly found in the wild in Barbuda, than Antigua.

Photos courtesy Antigua Marine Life, www.antiguamarinelife.info.

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