Summary: If you keep a
pair of turtles, and their are eggs in the water, you have several
options. Do nothing. Most likely those eggs are already dead.
Or take the eggs out immediately and try to incubate them. If
you want to encourage your female to lay more eggs, provide a land
area with sand or dirt for her to lay her eggs. If you want to
incubate the eggs, do NOT turn them or they will die!
For starters, keep the eggs moist and warm (~85F). Then consult
a book or a person to help you on.
Note: Every spring/summer I receive dozens of emails from people whose turtles have laid eggs. I have finally and reluctantly decided to add two short pages on turtle breeding. Note that I have never bred turtles, only snakes and humans, and that most of this information is either from friends or books. The information in this sheet is generic for water turtles (sliders) and box turtles (American box turtles). If you need more information about another species, follow the links in the home page. Some of those sites have extensive information on turtle breeding. I also encourge you to acquire one or more of the books listed in the booklist. Please, do not breed your turtles, unless you are either willing and able to keep all the babies, or you know in advance where they are going to find homes. Otherwise, it is better to destroy the eggs. Make responsible decisions! Water Turtle Eggs ====================== * If your water turtle has laid eggs in the water, and you didn't remove them within a couple of hours, the eggs are probably dead. The reason is that the eggs are deprived of oxygen and they die. * If your female turtle has not seen a male for more than two years, then the eggs are probably infertile. Fertile eggs are usually covered with a sticky mucus. 1. Remove eggs after laying. DO NOT TURN OVER THE EGGS. (It is OK to mark the top with a magic marker or a bit of charcoal). 2. Incubate in a box with moistened Vermiculate (equal parts of water and vermiculite BY WEIGHT). You get Vermiculate at garden centers. Make small depressions into the vermiculite and an gently position the eggs. If eggs stick together, you may try to separate them, but if they don't come apart easily, it's better to just leave them alone. Refer to the sheet on breeding turtles for more information. Box Turtle Eggs =============== * If your water turtle has laid eggs in the water bowl, and you didn't remove them within a couple of hours, the eggs are probably dead. * If your female turtle has not seen a male for more than three years, then the eggs are probably infertile. However, box turtles have been known to keep sperm around for longer than that. 1. Remove eggs after laying. DO NOT TURN OVER THE EGGS. (It is OK to mark the top with a magic marker or a bit of charcoal). 2. Incubate in a box with moistened Vermiculate (equal parts of water and vermiculite BY WEIGHT). You get Vermiculate at garden centers. Make small depressions into the vermiculite and an gently position the eggs. If eggs stick together, you may try to separate them, but if they don't come apart easily, it's better to just leave them alone. You can also use Shagum moss as the incubation medium. Bury the eggs into the sphagum moss and keep it moist (not soggy). Refer to the sheet on breeding turtles for more information. More on Incubation (From a Turtle Homes Member) =============================================== For my Box Turtles and water Turtles I place the eggs on moist papertoweling which covers the bottom of a clean pie tin. I cover the eggs with paper toweling and maintain a moist condition throughout the growing period. It is easier for me to allow 12 hour natural drying and then wetting by hand. I can also have easy access to the eggs for observation all the time. When I see any sign of mold, I carefully wipeand rinse the eggs while maintaining UP position of the eggs. My eggs always have clearly defined hemispherical real white on top half and wetter looking white on the bottom half of the egg shells making TOP easy to determine if movement occurs in error. If you over water the eggs can drown! Paper toweling is clean off the fresh roll. If an Egg Cracks or Bursts ========================== Usually, when eggs burst, which can happen, and you didn't do anythying wrong if the other eggs are fine, you can either do nothing if the crack is very small (which is what I did with mine just the other day; it has a very small crack because it was removed surgically) and the seeping egg white will dry and seal the egg. Just keep the egg in extra sterile conditions. (Vermiculite is a (relatively) sterile substrate, or cotton wool.) I know of people who have sealed cracked eggs with superglue successfully. If your other eggs are fine, this may just have been one that wasn't so good. It happens. And, I also know of perfect babies coming out of broken eggs. Most important: keep moist enough, so egg doesn't dry out. Use sterile water for this egg. I would also separate this egg from the others. Are The Eggs Fertile? ===================== (From a Turtle Homes Member) Eggs from Turtles are fertilized as the eggs are being layed. If the eggs had a mucous fell to them as they were lightly washed by the vet, then maybe they are fertile. Even when I dig up fresh eggs from the ground, as I clean them, if they rinse without any obvious slime on them they will be duds. The slime is the Turtle sperm which actually penetrates the eggs as they exit the Turtle and begin to harden.The tops of the eggs of my eggs turn real white after a day or 2. Again, it is easier to see on paper toweling as mentioned before.