By Randal Coombs
An adorable albino turtle has gone viral as its heart beats out of its chest.
Tiny Hope has such a rare condition that there isn’t a name for it in veterinary medicine and is named ectopia cordis in humans.
Owner Michael Aquilina – known as AquaMike on Instagram – has looked after the Albino Pinkbelly Sideneck at home in New Jersey, USA, since being sent her by his friend Gerard.
Mike, 29, said: “Hope has impacted my life in so many ways it actually makes me emotional.
“She’s so small, & so fragile, the most delicate thing but she’s fearless.
“People can see that and she’s got so many people rooting for her around the world.
“She’s spreading hope while also giving me hope.
“Hope has changed my life for the better in such a short amount of time.”
Mike uses a common-sense approach to looking after his albino anomaly, which entails Hope receiving extra special care.
Mike said: “I keep her water extra clean, give her a basking area that is as soft as possible and handle her as little as possible.
“I’ve gone for the more natural approach as to a completely sterile one.
“The goal is to keep her deformity clean & her immune system strong.”
Unfortunately for Hope, this means that she has to be kept separate from the other turtles for the foreseeable future.
Mike said: “I can’t risk another turtle accidentally puncturing her heart cavity.
“Maybe one day in the future when she’s bigger and less susceptible to bacterial infection.
“For now, she’s got to live in a bit of a bubble.”
All of Hope’s food and medical supplies are supplied by ZooMed Laboratories, which leaves the tiny turtle free to bask and eat to her hearts content.
Mike said: “She’s such an eager eater.
“Hope loves Mysis shrimp and I peel off the hard-outer skin so it’s easier for her to swallow and digest.
“The same goes with krill & frozen silversides.
“She also enjoys clams, snails and frozen bloodworms.”