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Turtles/indian star tortoise egg caring advice


QUESTION: Hello good day,
this is Hemal from india. Yesterday one of my star tortoise layed 1 egg, n there after 2 hour I picked n buried in tub inside red soil to a dept of 1 inch and kept a bulb of 40 watt for heating in my house,as I don't gave any incubator.
So I want 2 ask u that is it right what I have done, if some thing wrong please advice me and some says I should keep that egg in beach black sand rather than in red soil. And y have tortoise given only 1 egg, as I have seen on net that they give 4 to 6 eggs. And do I need to take any further care for female tortoise as it it is winter so the temperature as night decreases to 20 degrees.
thank you for ur help and support,wil appreciate your reply.

ANSWER: Hi Hemal,

The soil is probably fine, and better than sand..  Generally, a mix of vermiculite with an equal amount of water by weight is the best, but I don't know if vermiculite is available in your country.  Keeping the temperature and humidity even is important, though, so if you plan to breed you really should have an incubator.

What is very important, though, is how the egg is handled.  You must not rotate the egg when moving it from the nest to the incubation area.  It is best to mark the topside of the egg with a pencil so you know which way is up.  The embryonic cells begin to form very soon after laying, and rotating the egg disrupts them.  Later on, rotating the egg can kill the embryo.  So make sure the egg is always in the same position.

Females often lay only one or two eggs at first.  Clutch sizes increase as the female gets bigger.  The first clutches are often infertile, or only partially fertile as well.  Fertility also improves over time.  

A night drop in temperature is fine for the female.  Just make sure she has an appropriate basking area and UVB during the day.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello good day,
Thanks or ur reply it rely helped me, after 9 days of her first layed egg, she yesterday layed 3 more eggsbut this time she digged a hole herself n layed eggs, as first one on grass itself she layed n first one I kept in a loose soil n kept in heating wit bulb.
So I want to ask wat should I do wit these newly 3 layed eggs, slould I keep it as it's dudded or should I remove n keep it as first one.
N 3 eggs are layed in garden area so mud is a bit wet, so in future should I pore water in that area or keep that area dry.
N if I remove those eggs wul it b ok 4 female as if she wil search her eggs or not like picked up egg.
If I keep it there then all 3 eggs are stuck together, so should I keep all 3 in some distance or be like this and wat precaution should I take in further.
Thank you, your reply wil highly be appreciated.

ANSWER: The egg that was laid on grass is likely to be infertile.  The eggs that were laid in a nest may be fertile, and since you don't have an incubator, I think it would be best to leave them where they are and don't disturb them or make any changes to the area.  If you can obtain an incubator, you can carefully remove them from the nest and put in vermiculite in the incubator, but you will need to monitor the incubator temperatures and humidity.  Female tortoises have no connection to the eggs after they're laid.

If you are serious about breeding, you really have to have an incubator.  It's the only way you can keep temperatures and humidity consistent, and those factors are necessary for good hatching results.  Hovabator is the brand sold in the US, so look for it there.  Something like this:  Don't get one that turns the eggs!  The one I have has a fan, which isn't necessary, but I think is good for air circulation.  Having an incubator will probably greatly increase your hatchling success rate.      

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you jeannie,
Now wat should I do with that first egg which is not fertile, should I keep in the nest or let it b in loose soil where I have kept.
And it would b a favour if u could give any contact, where can I find an incubator in India, if u have so. As I don't knw where can I get.
And u didn't gave me the answer of the area where 3 egggs are nested should b kept dry or if I sprinkle water, as it is nested in garden area.
Thank you very much

The first egg may or may not be fertile.  At this point you should not disturb the nest in the ground--the only reason to do so is to remove the eggs to an incubator.  I'm afraid I can't help you with finding an incubator in India, since I'm in the US and have no idea where you could get one in your country.  You may have to order one from overseas if you can't find one locally.

I would not do anything with the nest that's in the ground.  Females are very careful about choosing a nesting spot, and if you water it you may add too much water and drown the eggs.  It may end up being too dry or too warm, but there's not much you can do about that.  Just leave them alone and hope for the best.


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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