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Turtles/yolk sac on hatching


Hi Jeannie,
my mud turtle hatched from its egg without its yolk sac. It was about half the size of a quarter when it hatched and will not eat anything I offer it. It seems healthy otherwise. Is this normal? Thank you!

Hi Lisa,

It's not unusual for them to have absorbed the yolk sac before they leave the egg.  Often they'll break the egg partway and then sit in it while the rest of the yolk sac absorbs.  In fact, a large yolk sac on a hatchling may mean problems, so no sac is really better.

Your hatchling will probably not eat for at least a few days, and sometimes they don't eat for as long as a month.  This is not something to worry about, because the yolk sac will sustain them for some time.  I would wait a few days to a week before offering food.  Usually something wiggly will catch their interest.  Congratulations on your hatchling!


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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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