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Tortoise eggs

Nile crocodiles, terrapins, tortoises and turtles.

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Tortoise eggs

Postby Marion » Tue May 10, 2011 7:24 pm

Hi all

My next door neighbour has a pair of tortoises which he inherited from his grandfather. I have no idea what kind they are but they lay eggs every year after a lot of huffing and puffing from the male!!! It's actually quite funny walking in my garden and suddenly hearing this immense grunting from the garden next door! Too cute!

The eggs have never hatched even though the female lays them every single year. Our ground gets close to freezing in Kempton Park, Johannesburg - I think perhaps the temperatures are all wrong. So I offered to put the next batch in my incubator. Well guess what, he arrived tonight saying that his female laid eggs last night and was the offer of the incubator still on the table.

So now I have 12 perfectly round eggs in a container in my incubator. So now what do I do? I'm not sure of the temperature but have set the thermostat at 32 degrees because that is what my neighbour said it should be. Is that right or too high? Also how long do they take to hatch? I see from other members on this site that they can take up to 12 months!!! Is that the normal incubating time?

Any help and advice will be very very much appreciated!!!

Marion
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Ales » Tue May 10, 2011 9:18 pm

Wow they still laying,well maybe my female will still then :)

I think the temps are a bit high,28 degrees is the normal temperature for leopard tortoises,and they usually hatch at this temp.

Incubation varies,I've been told from 4-14 months,so I have no idea.But I know in the wild it can take around 12 months. In the incubator it should be quicker.
What a world....
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Marion » Tue May 10, 2011 10:42 pm

Thanks for the info. Have turned down the temp. Now we wait and see. I think it will be interesting to see if they hatch. Baby tortoises are so cute and mom and dad are quite big ones. They weigh a good couple of kilos each and are quite big - I would say around 30 cm long. I must find out what type they are. The shell has no markings and they are actually a drab brownish/grey in colour, so if anyone knows what I should look for on google, please let me know.
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Jamster » Wed May 11, 2011 8:18 am

Sounds like leopard/mountain tortoise..... :D
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Herphead » Wed May 11, 2011 9:24 am

Hi Marion,

If you got 12 eggs from the female, the chances are almost 100% that they are leopard tortoises, as our other 12 species of tortoise are smaller and produce correspondingly smaller numbers of eggs per clutch, typically 2 to 5. The size of the tortoises also corresponds. Leopard tortoise eggs are almost perfectly spherical, pure white and approximately the size of a ping pong ball, whereas the other species produce oval or elongated eggs.

Leopard tortoises produce from 1 - 3 clutches of eggs per season and have a very long laying season. As of yesterday (11 May) one of my females was still laying.

Regarding the eggs, they can be incubated at room temperature but it is preferable to incubate them at a steady 25 degrees Celcius. It is not necessary to go any higher and you will not speed up incubation, but you may encourage the growth of fungus. Due to the amount of bone growth which needs to take place, the incubation period is very long compared to that of snakes and lizards - you will have to wait 9 to 12 months for them to hatch (Can't be more specific now, it's been a good couple of years since I last incubated any!).

Using a graphite pencil, make a small X on the top of the egg whichever way you have placed it in your incubation medium (vermiculite has always worked fine for me) in order to preserve the embryonic orientation for the period of incubation, as the embryo can be killed if the egg is turned during development. Keep any movement to a minimum although they should be fine if they are bedded in incubation medium.

Being hard shelled, the eggs are reasonably forgiving when it comes to humidity, but don't get them wet or they will get fungal infections just the same as other reptiles.

If you are fortunate enough to get hatchlings, pay close attention to your diets and go very easy on proteiens, Juvenile tortoises are very prone to pyramiding, osteoporosis and / or other forms of dietary maladies. The hatchlings will often come with alarmingly large yolk sacs still attached - just leave them in the humid and non-sharp environment of their incubation medium until the sacs are mostly or fully absorbed. They don't need feeding or watering during this period, which could last up to two weeks. The shrivelled yolk sac will then be absorbed or harden and the juvenile can be put onto gravel.

Good luck!
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Carpetpythons » Wed May 11, 2011 9:35 am

To increase the chances of the eggs hatching you will need to supply them with a diapause during the winter. Do some research on the internet to find out what a diapause is. It will be too hard to try and explain it here and i dont have the time right now.
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Marion » Wed May 11, 2011 10:08 am

Diapause - I have read up on it and I now understand what is meant. As it's winter in Johannesburg at the moment, how long should I I diapause the tortoise eggs and at what temp should I keep them in that state?

I'm perfectly happy to wait the 12 months - after all they are sitting in an incubator and are not in my way. I'm also wondering if my neighbour was just impatient and didn't realise the period of time needed for incubation with the last few clutches. I will have to explain to him what is going on.

I will keep a sharp eye on their development and any signs of fungus etc. I'm just hoping he will get a few babies from his pair of tortoises.
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Carpetpythons » Wed May 11, 2011 10:43 am

I would supply them with daytime temps of about 25 degrees and let the temperature drop at night to whatever the room temperature is. This is easy to achieve by just attaching a timer switch to the heating element of the incubator. I would supply them with a 6 to 8 week diapause.
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Charlie T » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:23 pm

Please help. How long does it take the baby to come out from the time the egg starts to crack?
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Jamster » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:14 am

If the eggs are not buried then when they crack don't rush them at all! Remember that when they crack the egg normally underground they still have to push against the earth around the shell so it does take a while. In this time the yolk that is about the circumference of a 50c coin. If you hatch it out too soon maggots can get into the yolk and then the tortoises will die. I have been working with hatching leopard tortoises at my bosses tortoise sanctuary. That's how i know this.
1.0-reticulated python (Ripcord)
1.1-burmese pythons
5.5-brown house snakes
1.0-taiwanese ratsnake
3.8-BCI
1.1-corn snakes
1.2-rhombic skaapstekers
1.0-yellow rat snake
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby dokta » Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:34 pm

I am sure the 2 that i have are mountain tortoises, both female. The smaller of the two occasionally mounts the bigger, yet at this moment she is busy digging the hole to lay her eggs??
It is not the first batch, but never has any eggs hatched in the past 4 years since laying? Any comments anyone??
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Re: Tortoise eggs

Postby Mellivora » Sat Nov 15, 2014 3:11 pm

Dokta,

1) Do you leave the eggs undisturbed or do you place them in an incubator?
2) What is the minimum nighttime temperature where you stay?
3) What type of soil do you have - sand clay stony?
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