Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tunneling Tortoises - She Did It Again!

This morning was a bit hectic for me. A friend from work was picking me up and I had to get going , it was close to the time he should be there and I don't like to keep him waiting.  I grabbed a few more things, shoved my pistol into the holster and boom I let off a round grabbed something else and I was just about to run out the door when I heard a scraping noise. It was coming from the tortoise enclosure. There was the female Hermann's Tortoise, angled tail down, head up, digging with her back feet in the substrate and scraping on he bottom of the enclosure as if trying to dig a tunnel backwards. That could only mean one thing - eggs! My buddy called right then and said he was outside my door! I told him I'd be about another 5 minutes. I ran out into the yard and looked for the Cypress Mulch. of course, the bag of it was gone from where I normally kept it. I looked here and there then in the garage then in the shed then saw it under a bush up against the side fence. I grabbed it, took it down to the basement, cut it open, spilled a handful of the mulch on the carpet, poured about 1/3 the bag of it into the tortoise enclosure (the female would not lay eggs unless deep enough) dumped the bag next to the wall and ran out the door to my waiting co-worker. We headed off to work.

All would not remain hectic though, and the rest of the day was calmer. We headed to Queens and then to Brooklyn and did some checking here and there on case work. After a couple hours of that, we headed to our office's annual picnic at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn. I did say the day was to become less hectic, didn't I! In fact it became relaxing, that is once I got over realizing that I had forgotten my credentials at home, guess my little rush had me being forgetful. No problem, the guard at the front gate of this U.S. Army military installation did not ask me for ID. My pal who, was driving, had shown his own and that seemed enough. It sure was better than not being able to get into the base because I had forgotten my wallet. It wound up we had a very nice time at the picnic.

After the picnic, my buddy drove me home and I was happy to find two things after getting there. First I found my wallet. I had left it in my work car last night. Shame on me. Then I went into the house, down to the basement, and dug up the cypress mulch in the bottom of the tortoise enclosure. I found 4 eggs. Hopefully it was warm enough in there for them to survive the several hours since they had been laid. I promptly removed them and put them into an incubator.

You may recall, that on May 30th, the same female Hermann's Tortoise laid her first clutch ever, also consisting of 4 eggs. I am still not sure if they are fertile or not but saw something when I candled them, just last night, that makes me think it is possible. I am keeping my fingers crossed for them, and for these 4 news ones, as being fertile. I will be quite the happy camper if the 8 eggs all hatch out. As I mentioned in my earlier blog about the first batch of eggs, laying to hatching can be a long wait, probably at least 70 days.Time will tell if they were fertile or not.

I figure I must have been doing something right since the female laid these eggs only 2 weeks and a few days after the first clutch. Who knows, maybe she will lay another. If so, I may have to set up a second incubator. You know, the thing about not keeping all of your eggs in the same basket, well it applies to incubators too. If one overheats or fails to heat properly, chances are you will still hatch the eggs in the other one. Heck, I may not wait to see if she lays any more eggs, I may use 2 incubators now.

As for the tortoises, I put the male and female out in the back yard just before I searched their enclosure for the eggs. They got some needed exercise and had a regular smorgasbord of goodies to munch on out there. Our Mulberry Tree is dropping fruit like there is no tomorrow and the female stopped awhile to gorge on them. The male, showing little interest in the female for a change, headed to another part of the yard. I saw the female eating at least 3 or 4 other types of plants while she was out there and then she was back at the berries. The male had a couple of strawberries to satisfy his sweet tooth (yes, I know, they don't have teeth) and after that it was back inside for both of them. I really need to make them a new outdoor enclosure so they can spend the next 3 months or so outside. I think I will get to that once I am back from my NRA Instructor training trip at the end of next week.

Right now, I need to go out to get the Redfoot Tortoises. I have them outside soaking in a large plastic concrete mixing basin ( I use it just for that sole purpose). Once they are back in their enclosure I am going to feed them a veritable berry delight.

All the best,
Glenn B