Saturday, April 12, 2014

More eggs from our Russian tortoise female Timmy!

Timmy, my favorite female Russian tortoise, has laid MORE eggs this week. 

Timmy, pushing out one of the 3 eggs on March 22nd
She laid 1 egg on Feb 17th, and then on March 22nd, she started pacing and digging in her tort table. I gave her a cat litter box full of slightly moist soil, and she laid 3 beautiful eggs into a nest hole she dug there.

I think this was the second egg. She pushed each egg further into
the nest hole before laying the next. 
The eggs are in an incubator now, which is set to 89 degrees, hoping to temperature sex the hatchlings to be female. It usually takes 60-100 days for a Russian tortoise baby to hatch. Unlike e.g. chicken eggs, tortoise eggs need to lie completely still, on their side, for the embryo to develop.

The 3 eggs from March 22nd, right before going into the incubator.
I had to use coconut coir instead of vermiculite, since I wasn't expecting these eggs.
Then on April 7, I noticed she was digging nest holes in the outdoor enclosure. I kept a hawk's eye on her, and in the late afternoon, she laid 3 more eggs into a nest hole she dug. Once she was done, I very carefully dug them up and placed them into the incubator as well.

Timmy eating a well-deserved meal after laying her clutch
of 3 eggs outside at the beginning of this week
This makes a total of 7 eggs! I am fairly certain that the first one (from Feb) isn't fertile... but so far the other 6 look great. They have chalked over, which is a good sign. I probably won't candle the other eggs, but will instead force myself to just wait and see if they hatch. Leaving them alone completely is much more healthy than if I bother them in an effort to check on them.

In addition to being very hungry, Timmy has also eaten 1.5 cuttlefish bones!
Her body needs the extra calcium to keep her own bones strong,
and to make healthy eggs.
This means that in a few months, I will hopefully be up to my eyeballs in Russian tortoise hatchlings... a rather wonderful problem to have, don't you think?

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