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Breeding turtles


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!

Breeding Water Turtles

Breeding sliders and most temperate water turtles is rather straightforward.

1. You need at least one pair of sexually mature turtles. For captive sliders
this is about 3 years for males, for females it is about 5 years of age.
The animals must be healthy and have a good weight and size. Don't breed
a newly acquired animal in the first year.

2. OPTIONAL: Breeding starts in fall. It is often recommended that you winter cool
turtles you wish to breed. This is not required, but it brings better breeding
results. Cooling period is January/Feburary, about 6-8 weeks. Turn off all the
heating and keep turtles at 50-60F degress. Turtles will eat little or nothing.
Leave the turtles alone and quiet.
If your turtles are in a pond, natural winter cooling is just fine.
(If you are going to cool down the turtles, I urge you to read up
on cooling/hibernation.)
After cooling, return turtles to normal temperatures.

3. Feed your turtles well during breeding season. Make sure the females get
enough Calcium and Vitamin D3.

4. If you can keep your turtles outdoors for breeding season, that makes things
a lot easier. In either case, you must provide a nesting area.

5. Provide a box, easily accessible to the turtle, with about 12-16 inches deep
of slightly moist soil, sand, or moss. Most water turtles lay several clutches
per summer with as few as 2 and as many as 10 eggs. Laying usually takes 24-48
hours per clutch with intervals of a few weeks between clutches.

6. 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).

7. 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.

8. Keep the container sealed, except for a few airholes. Inspect regularly (at least
ever week, but not every day). Keep at about 82F. Temperatures around 75F will
incubate slow and yeald mostly males; incubation at 85F will yeald mostly
females for sliders. 100F will kill the eggs.
Spray carefully to keep moist, if necessary.
Refer to the sheet on building an incubator for more information on incubators.

9. Hatching occurs in 60-120 days, depending on temperature.

10. Keep hatchlings separate from adults. Keep water lever SHALLOW.
Feed well-balance diet, at least once a day. Hatchlings are
mostly carnivorous, but you must offer fruits and vegetables.

Breeding Box Turtles

1. You need at least one pair of sexually mature turtles. Most box turtles
don't breed before they are at least 5 years old.

2. OPTIONAL: Breeding starts in fall. It is often recommended that you winter cool
turtles you wish to breed. This is not required, but it brings better breeding
results. Cooling period is December/January/Feburary, about 8-12 weeks.
Refer to sheets and links on hibernation for more information on hibernation.

3. Feed your turtles well during breeding season. Make sure the females get
enough Calcium and Vitamin D3.

4. If you can keep your turtles outdoors for breeding season, that makes things
a lot easier. In either case, you must provide a nesting area.

5. Provide a box or area, easily accessible to the turtle, with about 12-16 inches deep
of slightly moist soil, sand, or moss. Most water turtles lay several clutches
per summer with as few as 2 and as many as 7 eggs. Laying usually takes 24-48
hours per clutch with intervals of a few weeks between clutches.

6. 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).

7. 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).

8. Keep the container sealed, except for a few airholes. Inspect regularly (at least
ever week, but not every day). Keep at room temperature. Incubation at about
80F will yeald equal number of males and females. 100F will kill the eggs.
Spray carefully to keep moist, if necessary.
Refer to the sheet on building an incubator for more information on incubators.

9. Hatching occurs in 60-120 days, depending on temperature.

10. Keep hatchlings separate from adults. Make sure they have access to large, shallow
container of water. Feed well-balance diet, at least once a day. Hatchlings are
mostly carnivorous, but you must offer fruits and vegetables.
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