The Australian Reptile Park has a pint-sized new resident that has been melting hearts worldwide as a video of the tiny reptile eating a strawberry bigger than he is has gone viral.
Tiny Tim, the 42g and 5.4cm long, three-month old Indian star tortoise, has clocked up around 200,000 views around the world in the video of him digging into the ‘giant’ strawberry that towered over him. As a herbivore, Tiny Tim’s diet mainly consists of fresh leafy greens and grasses but occasionally, he is offered a special treat like strawberries.
When Tiny Tim is fully grown, he will be around 15 times heavier than his current weight and three times the size. Compared to the Australian Reptile Park’s biggest tortoise, the world-famous 71-year-old Hugo, Tiny Tim is more than 4,000 times smaller than the Hugo’s 185kg frame.
Australian Reptile Park Head of Reptiles, Jake Meney, was instantly smitten with the new arrival, admiring how he fit so perfectly in the palm of his hand.
“I love that with reptiles, the babies are just miniature versions of the adults – it’s so cute,” he says.
Listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List, wild populations of the species are in decline. Found in India and Sri Lanka, they are among the smallest tortoise species in the world. Sadly, due to their cute size, they are victim to the illegal pet trade and in 2019, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the illegal trading of the species.
“As cute as he is, it’s important to highlight the horrors of the global illegal reptile trade, of which this species is a very unfortunate victim of,” says Meney.
“At the Australian Reptile Park, we support responsible reptile pet ownership and implore prospective pet owners to get their reptile licence and only purchase native reptile species that make good pets.”
Visitors can see the rest of the Australian Reptile Park’s ‘creep’ of Indian star tortoises in the Lost World of Reptiles. When he is a little bigger, Tiny Tim will join his new friends, just in time for the Winter School Holidays in July.
The Australian Reptile Park is a hands-on zoo located the natural bush setting of the Central Coast of NSW, only 60 minutes from Sydney or Newcastle.
Image credits: The Australian Reptile Park