Tag Archives: turtle eggs

baby turtles in 2016

17 Jan

I found two nests from my Red-eared Slider in 2016. Each clutch had six eggs.

See the eggs! The Mom always picks a nice warm, rainy day to go digging.

I incubated the eggs in a plastic tub. I put a layer of sand on the bottom with a heat source, then a smaller plastic tub with moist coir (coconut fiber), and that small tub loosely enclosed in a clear plastic bag to hold humidity. I set the temperature where the eggs were  to about 80-82 F. (27 C)




The first group of eggs never developed at all. From the second group of eggs I had 5 hatchlings. They took 70-80 days to hatch.

After hatching, the babies sit for a few days absorbing their yolk sac. Then I place them in shallow water with smooth rocks to crawl up on.

I have a UV light over them but I also put them outside whenever possible. Their shells harden up and they eat like mad. Mostly bloodworms, shrimp, and earthworms. High protein for fast growth.

They are so cute but I can’t keep them. I advertise them and give them away to good homes. I ask a few questions. It’s easy to tell who knows what they are doing. I don’t expect miracles, just an honest effort to give the babies a good home.


No turtle babies for 2014

2 Jan

I’ll get right to the fact that no turtle eggs hatched for me in 2014. I realize now what I did wrong so let’s skim over my stupidity as quickly as possible and move on to other topics that showcase my brilliance.

CAM03109This looks pretty good, right? The eggs are in the shoebox-sized plastic tub covered by Coir (coconut-fiber), and vermiculite. Under that is a bed of sand. Under the little tub is another bed of sand, maybe 3 inches (8 cm) deep. Under the bigger tub is a heating pad, the kind you would use if you were sick or cold. I set the pad on the lowest setting. I wanted even distribution of the heat on to the eggs so they would incubate at 80-85F. (27-30 C).

I then placed the plastic cover that came with the big tub over the whole thing. I didn’t fit it on tight. I left it a bit loose so there would be some circulation of fresh air to avoid mold.

Every few days I would open the lid and spray water over the eggs and sand.

The only glitch along the way was the time we had a power outage and the heater kicked off. I didn’t realize it for nearly a week. The temperature went below 70F (21C). I don’t think that caused a problem, though. It seems to me that in the wild turtle eggs could easily get colder than that and still hatch as long as the temperature eventually heated up. The incubation would just last longer.

When the time to hatch was getting near I checked the eggs. They were shriveled and dry. I was shocked. I thought I had kept them hydrated but then I realized that I had too much sand draining the moisture away. Even though the eggs were covered by Coir and vermiculite, they actually were sitting on sand that pulled moisture away.

This happened to two clutches of eggs. The mother turtle laid two sets of eggs in a very short time, only weeks apart, so both clutches were in the incubator together.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.


After a hard rain it’s a good time to watch for the female turtle emerging from the pond to lay her eggs.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don;t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don’t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

If you’ve gotten this far you must be a turtle lover! Here are a few other turtle pictures just for fun.

Here's old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I've had her almost 25 years!

Here’s old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I’ve had her almost 25 years!

Does this look like turtle food?

Does this look like turtle food?

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park. I released her quickly, but not quick enough.

I never had this happen before. She peed. A lot.

I never had this happen before. She peed.                    A  lot.





Turtle eggs June 13, 2014

14 Jun

I was watering the plants around the pond and I almost didn’t spot the momma turtle under some flowers. She doesn’t leave the pond except for one reason, to lay eggs.

CAM03094I made a nice sandy beach for her last year but she was 15 feet away from that. All my hard work…

CAM03095She left no trace of a nest, except that I had SEEN her digging. She fills it back in and packs it down and it’s virtually invisible. Here I have removed the eggs, feeling like Roy Chapman Andrews in the Gobi Desert, and left a  spoon in there to show you how deep she goes, through hard ground and full of plant roots. Amazing.

CAM03096Here they are, seven eggs!

I added a layer of mixed vermiculite and coir (coconut husk fiber) over the eggs, then put the container into ANOTHER container which has a bed of sand in it, then put that on a shelf with a heating pad underneath. All the sand is so the heat radiates into the container evenly, no hotspots.

I’ll get a picture of the egg incubator thing and post it soon, and I’ll keep it moist and mostly covered. You check back in a few months, okay? We’ll find out if I am the foster parent of septuplets.



Turtle egg report for Summer 2013

3 Dec

This past Spring, on May 1 to be exact, I reported that the momma Red-eared Slider (also known as  Banana) was outdoors digging a nest. When the sun went down that night it quickly became VERY cold, under 30 degrees F.  So I put the mother into a dry tub for the evening, where I hoped she would rest until the next day. But instead of resting, she laid her eggs in the tub. Then the eggs got jostled and stepped on. I still hoped they might survive. I put them in my homemade incubator but none developed. All of the eggs, 5 of them as I recall, quickly shriveled and/or fungussed.


Two months later, in July, the momma was out wandering again and this time I saw her on three consecutive days. That can mean only one thing. She was looking to nest, but I never saw her digging. I searched hard for the nest, hoping to rescue the eggs, as my past experience of leaving eggs underground did not go well. Last year, a nest left to develop naturally was destroyed by several types of worms and grubs. So it’s possible there was a nest of turtles but with the drought conditions here I doubt the eggs ever developed or that the babies could even dig out. And if they dug out what would happen? Would they crawl to the pond only to be eaten by their parents?

During the entire month of August we had one measurable rain and it was only a few tenths of an inch.

Rain was so rare that I ran out and took a picture of the pond.

Rain was so rare that I ran out and took a picture of the pond.

One day in September I came home from work and Banana the Turtle was on land, hiding in the shade under some plants. The ground was very hard. I turned on a sprinkle of water, raining down gently over her, but within a minute or so she scampered (yes, turtles can scamper) back into the pond.

And that’s it for 2013. No eggs to be found.

I decided to construct a sand nesting area that the turtles can use next year.

I dug a hole...

I dug a hole…

...and filled it with exactly 100 pounds, or 45 kilos, of sand.

…and filled it with exactly 100 pounds, or 45 kilos, of sand.

A turtle beach!

She’s indoors now for the Winter, and I have a 55 gallon aquarium ready for her of she acts like she needs to lay eggs. I have about 6 inches of mulch in the bottom of the aquarium. I think I’ll just take her out of her water habitat every week or two and put her in the dry aquarium.


Sometimes a pregnant turtle will lay their eggs in the water, where the eggs quickly die. Or the mother turtle may hold the eggs in and become egg-bound. That is not a good thing. An adult aquatic female turtle  needs a place to lay eggs. If you see a major behavioral change in your water turtle, and you suspect her to be pregnant, put her on dry land for a few days.

The behavior change you notice may be that she gets extremely active, trying to escape the tank she is in, or just the opposite, sitting on the bottom of the tank , fat and miserable, like Americans on Thanksgiving.

Why Momma turtle was acting funny

1 May
The turtles have spent a long Winter in the basement.

The turtles have spent a long Winter in the basement.

One warm day i oput the turtles outside and within hours the female dug a nest.

One warm day I put the turtles outside and within hours the female dug a nest.

The female works her back legs in alternating fashion until she creates a nest that is shaped like this, but underground.

The female works her back legs in alternating fashion until she creates a nest that is shaped like this, but underground.

She laid 5 eggs, and it got teribly cold that night. I brought the eggs indoors and 3 or 4 are looking good.

She laid 5 eggs, and it got terribly cold that night. I brought the eggs (and turtles) indoors and 3 or 4 are looking good.

One more baby turtle in 2012

19 Nov

About 2 weeks ago I was surprised by the hatching of one more baby Red-eared Slider.
I had brought in 4 eggs that were laid June 24 and I put those eggs in their “incubator” in our basement. It’s a little cooler down there, of course, and it was immediately clear that 2 of the 4 eggs were not developing. Two eggs stayed full looking, and I wondered how long it might take. I had pretty much given up on the possibility of another baby but this little guy popped out one day! The final egg began shriveling and when I opened it had not developed at all.
The new baby was so much weaker than the ones that hatched in 60-some days (in a previous clutch). I thought this little guy might not make it but after 3 days he started nibbling on food and now is tearing around his tank looking hungry for crushed snails and bits of fish and shrimp.

The new baby is basking on the rock and I am holding one of the babies that was born earlier this summer.

Here’s one of the older babies in comparison to his Mom.

What I have learned is that it’s best to keep those turtle eggs in the low 80’s (Farenheit) instead of the low 70’s. This new baby turtle was in the egg over 4 months!!

Bad turtle news, some more bad turtle news and some good turtle news.

28 Jun

I came home from work 2 days ago and found little baby turtle #4 was dead. He was in the “incubator” in paper towels.
The previous night we had visitors and I did handle the baby turtle, taking him outdoors and showing them his yolk sac. Most curious, when I found him dead, the paper towels were quite dry. When I changed paper towels every day, I would moisten them with water from a spray bottle. I didn’t get them wet enough and I wonder if the towels were wicking moisture away from his body.
I took a couple photos of him but decided they are just sad, and decided not to post any.
The second bad news is that, since the incubator is now open, I wanted to dig up the egg clutch that was laid on May 7. They have been underground in the turtle enclosure, protected from large predators by some wire. I gathered some digging tools, in particular a couple of spoons so I could dig very carefully.
Here is what I found:

Five eggs were completely destroyed. They were crawling with insects. Sow bugs, worms and slugs all over them! Gross. I found one good egg and one egg that looked good but is quite sunken on the bottom.
If I had found these eggs to be healthy I was going to leave the batch laid a few days ago in the ground, but I didn’t not want the same fate to befall those eggs so I dug them up.

Sadly, I broke one egg, but recovered four good-looking eggs.
In the “incubator” I have 6 eggs.

So far this summer the momma Red-ear has laid three clutches of eggs.
First clutch: 5 eggs total, one not fertile, 4 hatched, one prematurely opened by me. 3 survivors.
Second clutch: 7 eggs total. 5 clearly destroyed. One healthy egg, one questionable.
Third clutch: 5 eggs total. One accidentally broken by me, 4 healthy looking so far.
I am finding out that raising baby turtles can be heart-breaking, but it’s worth it don’t you think?

TURTLES… and rain.

24 Jun

The smallest baby Red-ear Slider is doing well. I am keeping his damp paper towel nest as clean as possible. I am pretending that I work in a zoo, as opposed to other extremely lucky and talented people who really DO work in a zoo!

See how much egg yolk he has to absorb? Maybe he will be ready to join the others in a week or so.

It has been a very dry month, but we got a pretty good storm last night. It rained 9/10ths of an inch of rain and one-tenth of an inch of Japanese Beetles. I always wondered where they came from.

The rain may have triggered the big momma Red-ear Slider to lay eggs…again! Here she is just a few minutes ago. The ground is nice and soft and it is about 85F, very humid.

What happens when aquarium keepers go fishing

22 Jun

A friend of mine is just as crazy as I am about fish tanks and other exotic pets. I called him this morning and asked if he would go up to the Wapsi River with me for some canoeing, exploring, and fishing.
As we were unloading our gear we saw a Northern Water Snake hanging along the edge of the boat dock. Across the river I could see a big Softshell Turtle basking on a log.

We canoed into the backwaters of the river and saw several Western Painted Turtles. When we got WAY back into the backwaters the water was still and clear. Frogs were jumping everywhere, and under water we could see huge Bullfrog tadpoles. We noticed two varieties of aquatic plants, Hornwort and Anacharis, and collected a little for our home tanks.
One of my main goals for the day was to find some interesting driftwood to use in my 55 gallon aquarium that will house the baby Red-eared Sliders.
It was fun to canoe in the backwaters. We had to duck under branches and maneuver the canoe around big tree trunks. We saw a Great Blue Heron and some small ducks. Big Carp would swirl in the shallow flats, stirring up the mud.
We went back out to the main channel and, along the way, saw a baby Map Turtle basking on a small log. My friend leaned out of the front of the canoe with a big dip net, holding it underwater, while I paddled quietly and inched him closer and closer. He bumped the log and the little turtle dove right into the net. My friend wants to keep him for awhile and release him later this Summer.

We made our way up to a large sandbar and I picked up some interesting driftwood pieces.

There were thousands of minnows schooling in the shallows.

We found ourselves wandering. We went into the woods and found a little pond filled with hundreds of small frogs. They appeared to be juvenile Bullfrogs, but I think there were some other species as well.
My friend would be searching in one direction and I would be off in the other direction. We had brought our fishing poles but hadn’t touched them.

Off in the distance, my friend is walking along the sandbar, looking for….who knows!

I ended up standing in the water and enjoying it so much that I swam across the river to another sandbar. Not very far at all, but the feel of the current and the cool water really put me in touch with reality. Then I came back to to where my canoe was. My friend had started fishing and had caught a young Largemouth Bass, maybe 6 or 7 inches long. As usual, the fishing looked better on the other side of the river, so I grabbed my fishing pole and swam toward an area of large downed trees. I stood up on a huge tree and watched a big Softshell Turtle come up for a breath. I made a few casts into the shaded areas against the shore and along the tree trunks. No luck, and I got snagged after a few minutes. I pulled on the line and the lure broke off. I watched a Watersnake swim right below me. Reluctantly, I climbed off the log and and went back to the sandbar.

Out on the river, you can barely see me standing on a log where I was fishing…but not catching.

We left the sandbar and I acted as a human trolling motor for my friend as he fished along the driftwood, then the rocks, and finally along the boat docks as we returned to our starting point. He fished like a pro, putting the lure in some very fishy-looking locations but he didn’t catch any.
I dropped him off at his house. He had a very over-populated tank of Mollies. I don’t have any Black Mollies so he gave me some.

I washed off the aquatic plants and put them into a tank with some baby Swordtails. I’ll have to watch closely. There is a good chance some predatory aquatic insect larvae are in those plants.

Baby Green Swordtails that were born a few days ago.

All in all, we fished about an hour and explored for three hours. We had seen frogs, tadpoles, clams, crayfish, ducks,a heron, lots of little fish, snakes and turtles. On the way home both us were chattering about going back as soon as possible.
I think I will give him one or two of my baby Red-ear Sliders and we can take that Map Turtle back to the river where he belongs.

Good advice about the baby turtles

19 Jun

Turtle baby #4 is hanging in there, dragging around his larger-than-normal yolk sac (because I opened up his egg-shell too soon). I received some great advice from another WordPress blogger. She noticed I was keeping the baby in the Coconut fiber (Coir) and mentioned that there is a potential for some of the Coir to stick to the sac and get absorbed into the body as the plastron closes. She recommended putting the baby on damp paper towels. She was certainly right about the Coir, it has crusted a bit over the yolk so I am hopeful that it will soften in the damp towels and wear off. I will give it a gentle rinse if necessary.

For all of you turtle/tortoise lovers out there, please go visit her blog. She works in a zoo in Tennessee (not hard to figure out which one since their tortoise breeding successes actually make the news). The tortoises she helps to raise are some very rare and endangered animals. She writes about many things other than tortoises but let me give you a couple of links to her blog to get you started:



The one about “belly button shots” are Tortoise belly buttons! Now that I am raising baby turtles I can see that this fascination with their belly buttons is not a strange fetish, but a very important thing to watch and understand. You can’t put baby water turtles into an aquatic environment until their plastron has healed from where the yolk was attached.
The three older babies are living in a very basic tub of water, cleaned every day, with a UVB light above them. I also take them outside for a few hours of basking in the sunshine.

I was admiring their beautiful color patterns so I took them out for a photo op.