Monday, May 30, 2011

A Tantalizing Tortoise Tale...

...all due to an alluring tortoise tail. The allure, to be sure, was the tail end of my female Hermann's Tortoise and it was alluring to my male Hermann's Tortoise. I hibernated/brumated both of them this year for about 2 months or so. A cooling period is often necessary, in reptiles, for male to produce viable sperm cells and from what I have heard may be needed to help female tortoises produce viable eggs. Then I let that little imp cupid nature take its course and take it, it did. The male tortoise is one heck of an insistent courter; this regardless of the fact that he is much smaller than is the female and thus his thingy does not reach up seemingly from behind and under her shell to mate with her. I have watched them time and time again, first last year when got the male, and then this year since hibernation - never have I seen him hit a home run. Thus, I am somewhat doubtful that the eggs will have been fertilized. Yes the female has laid eggs, 5 of them Reptiles can and do oft times lay infertile eggs, I guess just like chickens. I am keeping my fingers crossed though hoping that the little guy hit a homer at least once - after all he has been growing and he sure has been swinging his bat and getting lots of practice with consistency!

Time, and a light light held right up to the eggs, will tell. I saw no evidence of fertility when I candled them today with a very bright flashlight but then again there is little alive inside an egg, except maybe a few cells, when then are freshly laid. I expect that within a few days to a week, when I candle them again, I should be able to make out blood vessels if they are fertile. I have them in an incubator with snake eggs right now but have to set up a separate one because that one is too cool for tortoise eggs. The tortoise eggs require temperatures from just under the higher end of that which snake eggs require to a few, or even several, degrees higher than that. Those higher temps could kill snake embryos, and from what I saw the snake eggs do look fertile.
Now, what temps I use for the tortoise eggs depends upon whether or not I want to go for babies of both sexes, want all males or all females. If I want all males, I can use the temps that I know are safe for the snake eggs and thus I can keep them together. If I want all females, then I need to raise those temps by several degrees above the maximum for snake eggs. If I want both sexes or the chance of both sexes, then I still need the temps above those I would normally use for snake eggs.

I have a Hova-bator incubator that someone gave to my son. It appears unused, looks to be complete except for a few unnecessary clips (all operating parts are there), and is minus any instructions but I found the instructions for it on the manufacturer's website. I think that will be my project for the rest of the night. After that, I'll have to read up a bit more on tortoise egg incubation, I want to get it right if they actually are fertile.

All the best,
Glenn B

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