This turtle may be one of the rarest species in the world and it could also be one of the cutest too. Keepers at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham received a shock last week when a pair of new arrivals were spotted swimming in a tank. Staff had no idea their Roti Island Snake Necked Turtles had laid eggs before they made their unexpected debut.

‘The first we knew of it was when we came in one morning and found these two youngsters swimming around,’ explained curator Graham Burrows.

He believes the mother had hidden her eggs in the sand at the bottom of her tank before they hatche.

The species is one of the rarest in the world and the surprise appearance of the two turtles brings the total captive population to just 250 worldwide.

‘That’s more than the population left in the wild,’ Mr Burrows added.

‘The species is confined to a tiny area in the middle of a single small island, Rote Island, in Indonesia, and was hunted almost to extinction for the pet trade.

‘It has been protected since 2001, and with luck the population will recover.

‘If it doesn’t, captive reared animals like our two new arrivals could be used for reintroduction to give the species a vital last lifeline.’