Eggs! Help, my turtle laid eggs!


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.

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