All four species of the genus Acanthochelys are not difficult to keep, but it is a challenge to breed them. The eggs require a long, cool phase as a stimulus for development. The hatching of the fully developed embryos is problematic as well.
The breeding and hatching of all four Acanthochelys species is a big challenge. In the beginning of incubation the round eggs need a cool phase to start their development. The difficulty with hatching occurs in many of the South American snake-necked turtle species. At the end of development, the embryos of Acanthochelys sp. rotate onto their backs and die fully developed. They are very likely waiting for another trigger such as a drop in temperature or an increase in the substrate moisture content, which could simulate a natural rain event.
As an attempt to prevent them from dying within the egg, we carefully opened the egg and the first A. spixii hatched! The second hatchling emerged from its egg by itself. The hatchlings show a striking blood-orange-black pattern on their plastron likely to scare off predators. In addition, we noticed an offensive acidic exudate, which resembles the smell of fire toads (Bombina sp.) and is also a likely a defense mechanism.