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Turtles/painted turtle eggs


QUESTION: I have a painted turtle, and I just found 10 eggs in her pond. they were not there earlier today, so they are fresh laid.

what can I do to help them hatch

ANSWER: Hi Victor,

If the eggs were laid in water they're not viable.  Turtles need a dirt area where they can dig a nest to lay.  I'm not sure what you mean by "pond," but if she's outdoors she should have access to a land area (dirt) as well as water.  If she's indoors, she'd need access to some kind of nesting box, with packable soil at least as deep as she is long.  Most likely she's not carrying any more eggs right now, but turtles typically lay multiple clutches so she may lay more eggs in about a month.  

Make sure she's getting a very good diet, consisting of a variety of pellets, animal protein from whole sources, and greens/veggies.  Varied diet is really important.  Also put a cuttlebone in her enclosure so that she can get extra calcium. If you can describe exactly how you have her set up (enclosure type and size, type of basking/UVB bulb, land/water areas, etc.), I can give you better advice.

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QUESTION: Thanks for the info.

She is currently in my indoor enclosure. it has a 90 gal pond, and 2ft x 12ft land area 6+ inches deep in 3 soil type sections

closeset to pond  - 6" top soil  some small plants
next secment - 3" top soil covered with 3" cedar mulch
far segment - 6" sand   

I was redoing the land area, so shes been confined to the pond for the last 3 days. she will have full access to the land area in the next couple of days.

ANSWER: OK, thanks for the info.  When you redo the land area, I would keep the top soil and remove the cedar and sand.  Cedar is toxic, although a small area of cypress mulch would be fine if that's what you meant.  You can use stones as a transition area from water to soil to help keep the water clean.  If you can, increase the soil depth by 2-3" to give her enough depth to dig a nest, and make sure the soil is packable--that is, not too loose.  The sides of the nest shouldn't collapse when she digs.  They are very good at hiding nests, so you may have trouble finding eggs unless you catch her laying.  Signs of imminent laying include extreme restlessness (constant pacing) and lack of appetite, so watch for those in about four weeks.  Females get a certain "look" when they want to lay, which you will learn to recognize.  Good luck--it sounds like you take good care of her!

P.S.  Uh...I forgot the obvious!  If she hasn't been with a male (you didn't say if you have other turtles), the eggs won't be fertile.

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QUESTION: ??!!!!*****  Cedar is toxic  ****!!!????  
the pet stores sell Cedar chips & Mulch as bedding for small animals & Reptiles. I use cedar mulch for my Iguana's bedding. is it TOXIC to him??

yes I do have another turtle, not sure M or F

Yes, cedar and pine is toxic to both reptiles and rodents due to the oils.  *Cedar*, though, not *cypress*.  There's a cypress bedding sold for reptiles, but I can't remember the name of it.  I'm sorry to say that pet stores sell more items that are useless, if not harmful, than not--something that drives me nuts.  One example is the crushed walnut shell substrate they sell for reptiles.  It's highly dangerous.  Heat rocks, those ridiculous turtle kits, etc.  Ugh!

Anyway, if you do have your iguana on cedar (not cypress), then you should use something else.


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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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