In this article, I’ll be describing to you exactly how long it takes for turtle eggs to hatch and provide an understanding of the biological process it involves.
How long for painted turtle eggs to hatch? The female painted turtle usually lays eggs in between late spring and early mid-summer. It takes about 67 to 75 days for the embryo to develop into a baby turtle and the eggs to hatch.
If you’re thinking of hatching your painted turtle eggs, knowing the natural process of incubation is as important as the artificial process.
The Fertilization of Eggs
The turtle’s biological clock is completely dependent on the surrounding temperature. Mating season begins during spring when the temperature is between 10-25℃. Early spring the males bask in the sun to maintain an internal temperature of 15-17℃.
It is necessary for the turtles to produce sperm. The females ovulate around that time as well. They get prepared for mating. The males become sexually mature at the age of 2 to 9 years and females 7-16 years.
The male first faces the female and offers an invitation of courtship by gently stroking her face. If accepted, the female responds by stroking back. This back and forth display of affection will continue for a while until the female decides to swim to the bottom. The male follows and the two then copulate.
Finally, the eggs are fertilized.
Around the end of May, the female painted turtle will be out in search of a nest. She will dig up several false nests to confuse predators. Choosing the desired spot she’ll start digging using her hind legs and forming a vase-shaped nest as deep as 200 meters.
She will check the soil for its temperature, amount of present vegetation and other factors. After the nesting is done and the temperature is just right, the mother painted turtle will lay its eggs. Then she will cover them up in the dirt.
Hatching of eggs
The eggs remain in incubation for 67 to 75 days whether it’s in nature or an artificial incubator. The eggs are white in color and soft to the touch.
Between August and September, the eggs hatch and the hatchlings come out of their shells to take their first steps. In some areas, the baby painted turtles immediately dig out of their shells.
In colder climates, they remain in their nest throughout the winter and then emerge next spring.
Caution in case of artificial incubation
The painted turtles are very sensitive creatures. They are ectothermic, so the perfect temperature is vital for their survival and their eggs. Failing to keep tabs on the temperature may cause delayed hatching or the eggs may not hatch at all.
Other factors may also cause your turtle eggs to delay hatching. Here are some things to look out for during artificial incubation:
- Make sure the eggs are fertilized. Turtles cannot reabsorb unfertilized eggs. So they’ll lay them whether they are fertilized or not. One way you can check if they are fertilized or not is lighting a flashlight through them a couple of days after they are laid. They’ll have a red glow to them. It is due to the formation of blood. It’s a clear indicator that the embryo inside is healthy and developing accordingly.
- Do not rough handle eggs late into incubation. You can handle newly laid eggs as you wish. But eggs late into incubation need to handle with care and if possible not handled at all. Because later into development the embryo laches on the wall of the egg. At this people turning the eggs or moving it around may damage the embryo and kill it. So stay away from moving them.
- If you’re collecting eggs from nature, it’s best if you’re collecting the eggs keeping the right side up. Make sure that the surrounding temperature is not exceeding 27℃ or not the sunlight may spoil the eggs.
- Collect eggs from nests in the dirt near bodies of water. Eggs found in the water will not hatch.
- Maintain optimum temperature. Make sure the temperature in the incubator is 25-31℃. This important for the eggs to develop properly. Make sure the lid of the egg container lightly sealed. If you want males then maintain 28℃ and for females 30℃.
- Keep tabs on your eggs. Check if they’ve hatched. But don’t remove the lid too often as the temperature will not be maintained.
Why your pregnant turtle may not lay eggs?
If you are breeding painted turtles then there might be situations where the pregnant turtle isn’t laying eggs. This condition is called dystocia or egg retention. This is very painful and dangerous for your turtle. And can even lead to death. There are various reasons why a mother turtle may suffer from egg retention.
- An inadequate diet may cause egg retention. Mainly a lack of calcium in the diet may cause this problem. A lack of sunlight (UV-B) can also cause dystocia as it will hamper calcium abortion. So adequate sunlight and diet are necessary.
- Stress can also cause egg retention. A mother painted turtle who feels threatened by the environment or by nearby animals will not lay eggs. A small or overcrowded tank, improper temperature, predatory animals (dogs or cats) may cause stress to your turtle.
- Lack of nest site. This is most common for turtles in captivity. Turtles are very picky about where they lay their eggs. The absence of such a place will cause dystocia. It’s vital that you arrange a place with the necessary conditions fit for nesting.
- Physical abnormalities of reproductive organ or pelvis, injuries due to laying oversized eggs can also cause dystocia.
Painted turtles are wonderful animals and great pets. And not just pets, they decorate and bring life to your home with their vivid colors. But as you can see they require adequate care and attention to comfortably live in your home. From the 2 months long incubation period to the point when they hatch, you will be required to provide proper care for them.
And following this guide, I am sure you’ll be successful in hatching your new baby painted turtles.