Each turtle owner experiences the best moment of his life when his pet shows signs of laying eggs. Only the owners know how much struggle it takes to conduct successful breeding, especially for turtles. I have been raising map turtles for years, and my pet turtle gave birth last year. So, I thought, why not share my knowledge and experience with you.
Most of the map turtle species engage in mating twice a year, in the spring and fall. The mother map turtle stays in the nest from late May to mid-July, and its eggs hatch in the late summer. It may take almost 75 days for the hatchlings to emerge from the eggs, which means the baby map turtles will be in your hands in the late winter.
If you are a beginner and trying to breed your map turtles, do not worry anymore. In this article, I will explain each detail of the care for map turtle eggs up to its hatchlings. Read until the end to get a clear concept on the topic.
How To Know If Your Map Turtle Is Going Lay Eggs?
If the gravid map turtle is going to lay eggs, you will notice several changes in its behavior. Your observation skill is the biggest asset here.
Here are the things map turtles do when they are ready to lay eggs.
- The gravid map turtle will spend more time on the nesting area, exploring a suitable place for laying eggs.
- The mother map turtle’s walking pattern will be different.
- After finding the perfect spot, the gravid map turtle starts digging the area using its front claws. Later, it uses its rear claws to finish digging.
- The hole will be deep enough to hide around 20 turtle eggs. After laying eggs, the mother turtle covers the hole with dirt and leaves the place.
How Many Eggs Does A Map Turtle Lay At A Time?
The map turtles lay eggs in clutches. Each clutch can contain 8 to 22 eggs, depending on the map turtle species. Generally, map turtles can lay 2 to 3 clutches of eggs each year.
What To Do After Finding The Map Turtle’s Eggs?
You will have two choices after finding the eggs. One, let the eggs hatch naturally. And two, incubate them. In captivity, the environment is not favorable to hatch eggs like in the wild.
It is because the substrate, temperature, and heat are not as perfect as nature. So, that leaves you with only one choice, incubation.
How To Take Care Of The Map Turtle’s Eggs
Taking care of a map turtle’s eggs is not an easy job. You have to be dedicated to the task. After finding the eggs, the first thing you have to do is to move them somewhere safe and sound.
Then clean the eggs with a paintbrush and remove the dirt. Mark a cross on the top of each egg. Now, your eggs are ready for incubation.
There are many methods to incubate your map turtle’s eggs. I will discuss the process I have followed for hatching my map turtle’s eggs.
Incubation Of Map Turtle Eggs
Prepare The Incubator
You can not hatch the map turtle’s eggs in a typical environment. You have to create a wild environment in a small container. I recommend using a robust plastic container for the purpose.
You can fill the plastic container with different kinds of substrates. For example,
- Peat moss with cactus succulent potting soil
After filling the container with the substrate, make a few holes at the bottom of the container. These holes will work as a drainage system and will keep the eggs safe.
Now place the eggs inside the substrate. You should burry the eggs in such a way that the top of the eggs remains exposed.
Maintain The Temperature And Humidity
Now you have to place the plastic container in a cool place. Maintaining the right temperature and humidity is essential for taking care of the map turtle eggs. Different experiments have proven that from 78 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature to incubate map turtle eggs.
You also have to maintain 75% to 85% humidity inside the incubator. Without the right humid level, the eggs can crack, or the embryo will never develop further. So, always try to provide an 80% humidity level inside the incubator.
If you have provided the perfect environment for the eggs, then there is nothing much you can do except waiting for them to hatch. During the waiting period, make sure the soil is not dry. Keep the substrate moist and damp to hold the moisture.
Also, do not flip or rotate the eggs. It is because the embryos start developing from the top side. And if you turn the map turtle’s egg, the embryo will most probably die.
You can also use the commercial incubators to hatch the map turtle’s eggs. If you are planning to do so, here are some tips for you.
- Clean each part of the incubator.
- Put a suitable substrate inside the incubator.
- Before placing eggs inside the incubator, run the machine for 24 hours.
- Maintain the preferred temperature and humidity mentioned above.
- Check the eggs every two days.
How Long Does It Take To Hatch Map Turtle’s Eggs?
A study shows that if you incubate your map turtle’s eggs at 83 degrees Fahrenheit the eggs will hatch within 50 days. And for 78 degrees Fahrenheit, it will take 55 to 60 days for the eggs to hatch.
When the hatchlings come out, it totally depends on the incubator’s temperature. No matter what happens, do not force the hatchlings to come out. Have patience and wait until the hatchlings crack the eggshell and leave it by themselves.
Does The Sex Of The Hatchling Depend On The Incubation Temperature?
Like many other reptiles, the sex of the map turtle hatchlings depends on the incubation temperature. It has been proved that the higher temperature yields female map turtle, and the lower temperature yields male map turtles.
The male map turtles are produced when the incubation temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius. And the female map turtles will be yield at 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius.
Map Turtle Hatchlings- Special Care
A newborn map turtle requires more care than the adult one. As a responsible turtle owner, you must fulfill every need of the hatchlings.
If you observe the hatchlings, you may notice that they still have egg teeth and yolk sac. Egg tooth helps the hatchling to crack the eggshell and come out. And the yolk sac is the part that the hatchling used to absorb food and nutrients.
Do not try to remove these parts. The egg teeth will fall, and the hatchling will absorb the yolk sac eventually. The shell of the hatchling is very soft, and a little pressure can cause shell damage. That is why you have to avoid handling them as much as possible.
If you need to handle them, try picking up gently. Hold the baby map turtle by its top and bottom part of the shell using your finger and thumb. Never lift it by its edges.
The Enclosure Of Map Turtle Hatchlings
In captivity, the hatchlings need the same enclosure facilities as the adult map turtles. You need to provide them with everything, light, heating source, and basking docks. The most important thing is, you should not put the hatchlings in the same tank with the adult map turtles. Instead, put them in a separate container.
Many turtle owner thinks hatchlings can not swim in deep water, and so they make them a shallow water area. This is not accurate for baby map turtles. They can swim in deeper water, and they do not prefer shallow water areas.
But for their safety, you should start from a minimum depth. For example, in the first week – The water depth should be 1 inch or 2.5 cm. Do not use any filtration. In the second week, make the depth around 2 inches or 5 cm without any filtration.
You have to add a filter after increasing the water depth to 2.5 inches or 7 cm. After four months, the water should be around 3 inches or 8 cm deep. You have to keep increasing the depth of water as the map turtle grows.
Baby turtles are more vulnerable to germs and diseases. So, you have to keep the enclosure clean. The pH of the water plays a significant role in reducing the spread of germs. Try keeping the water pH level between 7.00 to 8.00.
You have to be very careful while choosing the water filter for the hatchlings’ enclosure. If the filtration current is strong, the baby turtles can get stuck in that by accident. So, set up a power filter or submersible foam filter and coat it with course foam to reduce the chance of an accident.
Maintaining the perfect temperature is essential when you are raising baby map turtles. The preferable temperature is between 78 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the lights are not too close to the water.
You also have to set up a UB light source inside the enclosure. The UV rays help to produce vitamin D3 in the baby map turtle’s body. And vitamin D3 is essential for building healthy bone and shell.
You can plant small vegetation in the enclosure. Do not forget to build more than one hiding place for the hatchlings. Also, make a large basking dock for the baby map turtles.
Diet For The Map Turtle Hatchlings
I have mentioned earlier that hatchlings are more vulnerable to diseases. One way of reducing the disease rate is to feed them a healthy diet. Map turtles are omnivorous, and baby map turtles eat more plants than protein.
Here are the items you can feed the baby map turtle,
- Commercial food
- Feeder insects
- Green leafy vegetables
No matter what you feed them, always sprinkle some vitamin and calcium supplements on it. If you want to know more about a map turtle’s diet, click here.
Supplements You Need To Raise Map Turtle Hatchlings
Here are the things you will need to raise 2-5 map turtle hatchlings.
- A minimum 20-gallon tank
- Fluorescent light
- UB bulbs
- Air passing enclosure cover
- Ceramic fixture clamp lights
- 200-watt aquarium heater
- Water filter
- Small rocks or pebbles
- Hiding spots
- Python cleaning system
This article is an ultimate guide for every turtle owner who is trying to take care of his map turtle’s eggs. I have cleared each concept and confusion throughout the writing. I hope you guys have found the article helpful.