I really love when my pets start to show signs of mating or reproduction. It’s a sign that they are well cared for and ready to give babies. It’s same for the turtles. However, I have seen many owners freaked out when they first discover turtle eggs in the enclosure. You don’t need to worry about it anymore. In this article, I will explain in details how to care for turtle eggs.
How to know if a Turtle is going to lay eggs?
- When a turtle is ready to lay eggs, it will be often seen on the land, exploring, trying to find the right spot for laying the eggs. She will dig test holes in various places to check the right spot for laying her eggs.
- Her walking pattern will be different than usual.
- After she finds the right place, she’ll start to dig wholeheartedly. Turtles use their front long claws to initially dig out the first stage of the hole. After the first stage, the turtle starts digging with her hind legs.
- After digging a hole almost as deep as the length of her body, the turtle lays eggs inside the hole, cover it and leave. Her job is finished. She’ll never come back for the eggs. After then, mother nature takes control.
What to do when you find turtle eggs?
There are basically two things you can do when you discover turtle eggs laying around. The first choice is to let nature takes its course and the second choice is to take the eggs and place them in an incubator.
Turtles are one of the oldest species of animals in the world. Nature has taken care of it for millions of years. So, you can actually let nature take care of the turtle eggs. However, keep in mind that nature can be cruel. Often times, most of the turtle eggs don’t hatch. Even some of the hatchlings can’t make it out of the whole. There are many things that can ruin the turtle eggs such as
- Unusual weather
- Sharp changes in the temperature
- Too much rain
- Cold weather
Anyone of the above is enough to destroy an entire clutch. On the other hand, if you decide to take the eggs and incubate them, then you’ll have to take responsibility of the whole clutch for about 2 months. So, only choose the second option if you are ready to handle the responsibility.
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How to care for turtle eggs?
If you have chosen the second option, then you’ll have to be prepared to take care of the turtle eggs. Here are the steps to make sure the turtle eggs are safe and sound:
- The first task is to take the turtle eggs and put them somewhere safe. Fortunately for us, this is an easy step and don’t require much. All you need is a bag of vermiculite. You can find it at any general garden store. One bag of vermiculite will easily last for a couple of years. You’ll also need some kind of plastic box for holding the eggs. The box needs to have a lid. Drill some holes on the lid for ventilation.
- This step is very important. Take the same amount of vermiculite and water and mix them inside the box. Always remember to measure the vermiculite and the water by weight, not by volume. if you mess this step, then the moisture quantity inside the vermiculite won’t be right and the eggs may not hatch. Do not fill all the box with the mixture. Leave a couple of inches from the top. The mixture should be such that, if you compress it in your hand, no water will drip, but the vermiculite will get clumped.
- In this step, we are going to learn some basic things about the reptile eggs. Reptile eggs are a lot different than chicken eggs. They are a lot rubberier and tough. However, if not handled carefully, they can get punctured. The other most important thing is, once you deposit the eggs for 4 hours, the orientation can never be changed. It is because the embryo starts to develop on the top side of the egg. If the eggs are rolled sideways or upside down, there are high chances that the embryo will die. So, once we deposit the eggs in the box, we can never change its orientations.
- Now it’s time to insert the eggs into the incubator. Make an impression with your finger on the vermiculite. You don’t need to make a very deep impression. Remember that some portion of the egg needs to be open once you insert it into the vermiculite. Always remember to insert the eggs in the same orientation as you have extracted them from the turtle nest. For safety purpose, I like to take a marked and put a sign on the top side of the eggs when extracting them from the nest. It helps me to keep track of their orientations which is very important for successful hatchlings.
The incubating process:
The incubating process can be very easy. You can either put the box in a safe warm place, where it will not be disturbed by any people or animals. Keep the lid tight and let the long summer do its magic. You can also buy a professional incubator box which increases the success rate of the eggs drastically.
Till now, various methods of incubation have been used for successful hatchings of turtle eggs. The better an incubator is, the more it will be able to control the temperature and humidity inside it. In most cases, water turtle eggs need much more humidity than terrestrial turtle eggs.
There are basically two incubating methods: low humidity method and the high humidity method.
Low humidity method is useful for hatching terrestrial turtle eggs that are hard-shelled. You can either buy a professional reptile incubator or build one yourself if you don’t have the money. I’ll always recommend buying a reliable one than making.
When looking for a reliable reptile egg incubator, check if it has good control over the temperature and humidity inside it. It is better if the incubator comes with thermometers to keep track of the inside temperature. You can also install a hygrometer inside it to observe the humidity inside the incubator.
Water turtles and box turtles use the high humidity method for hatching their eggs. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are going for the high humidity method:
- The orientation of the eggs should never be changed.
- Always keep the temperature constant at about 27 degrees Celsius or 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The humidity should be controlled at about 80%
How long should you wait?
This varies from species to species. Also, the temperature plays a vital role in determining the duration of the whole incubation process. Generally, it takes about 60 days to hatch most common water turtle eggs. However, variation in temperature will affect the duration considerably. Even a variation of 2 degrees can extend the incubation period by about three weeks. You’ll always need to be patient when you are incubating turtle eggs.
If you have done everything right and the eggs were fertile from the beginning, you should see baby turtles poking out of the shells after about 60 to 90 days, depending on the species and temperature.
When the babies finally break out of their shells, try your very best not the pick them up. it is because the newly hatched babies still have an egg sac attached to their underbelly. The sack is very sensitive and can get torn from a sharp piece of eggshell. If the sack gets torn in any way, the baby will catch an infection and may die.
Once the babies are fully out of the shells, you can pick them up carefully and move them on to a new container. This container doesn’t need to be filled with vermiculite. just placing a wet paper towel with enough moisture will be enough. In the new container, the babies can stay for another week while they are absorbing the egg sack. During this period, you don’t need to feed the babies anything. The egg sack will give them the necessary nutrients to survive.
When Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Lay Eggs?
It takes about 2 to 4 years for a male red eared slider to get matured. On the other hand, female red eared sliders need about 2 to 5 years. They start to mate and lay eggs once they have reached sexual maturity. Red-eared sliders tend to mate every year between March and July.
How long does it take for a turtle to lay eggs?
It varies from species to species. Generally, turtles lay their first batch of eggs about 21 to 42 days after mating. In the meantime, the female turtle starts to look for suitable places for making the nest.
How many eggs does a turtle lay at a time?
The amount of eggs a turtle can lay at a time differs vastly from species to species. Normally, smaller water turtles lay about 1 to 5 clutches of eggs every breeding season. Each clutch contains around 10 eggs.
How many eggs do red-eared sliders lay?
A red-eared slider can lay about 2 to 30 eggs at a time. The eggs will take approximately 60 to 90 days to hatch if they are fertile.
How to move turtle eggs?
Moving turtle eggs is a very sophisticated process. A little error may turn out to be deadly. Follow the below processes carefully for moving turtle eggs:
- First, get a marker and mark the top side of each of the eggs, before even starting to moving them. Now, carefully lift one piece of egg at a time and never change the orientation. By not changing the orientation I mean, the marked side should always be on the top, not sideways or upside down.
- Now, carry the egg to your destination place and put it in the same orientation as you have got it. You should never ever change the orientation of turtle eggs as it may destroy the embryo inside the eggs.
- Many people use spoons to carry the eggs.
Can turtle eggs hatch in water?
No, turtle eggs can never hatch in water. Even, if a turtle egg is in the water for some time, it will surely be dead. Turtle eggs need to be in touch with the air for gas exchange. Even being submerged in the water for a brief amount of time can lead to the demise of the embryo.
How long does it take painted turtle eggs to hatch?
Generally, it takes about 72 days for painted turtle eggs to hatch. The process generally continues from August to September. After hatching, the baby turtles go straight to the water by natural instinct.
How long does it take box turtle eggs to hatch?
In the North, box turtle eggs take about 90 to 120 days to hatch. However, the time is much shorter in the South. Box turtle eggs in the South hatch within 70 days.
What time of the year do turtles lay eggs?
There is no definite time of the year when turtle lay eggs. It differs vastly from species to species. Generally, turtles start to lay eggs when it is summer.
Where do turtle eggs come out of?
Turtle eggs come out of the cloaca. The cloaca is a vent or opening located beneath the tail of the turtle. in female turtles, the cloaca is located generally towards the body, at the base of the tail.
Which animals eat turtle eggs?
The predators of turtles generally depend on the species of the turtle. For common water turtles, the predators are foxes, gulls, ravens, raccoons, crows, herons, weasels etc. some turtles also eat the eggs of other turtles such as snapping turtle.
What is the egg sac?
You’ll be able to see egg sac in newborn turtle hatchlings. It is the soft attachment with the turtle’s underneath shell. The sac mostly resembles a yellow/orange yolk. This egg sac is extremely important for baby turtles. Baby turtles get necessary nutrients from the sac for the first couple of weeks. During this time, they don’t need any feeding. If the egg sac is punctured in any way, the hatchling may get an infection and die.
What to do after the turtle babies just hatched?
After the babies have just hatched and came out of their shell completely, carefully pick them and move them into a new container. Line the new container with a wet paper towel. The babies will do fine in the container for about a week until the egg sac is completely absorbed. In the meantime, you can spray the paper towel with water sparingly for keeping it moist.