Sunday, August 3, 2008

We Have Pipping!

The anticipated day has arrived. Our tortoise eggs have started to hatch. Yesterday we saw several crumbs of the shell on the ground next to one of the eggs. The process will take about three days to complete, but it is great fun to watch the progress.

Each baby has a pipping tooth to break the shell. Once we notice that the shell is pipped we move the egg to a hatching tank.

That tank continues to provide the heat that was used for the incubation period, but it also has a smooth surface for the process to continue. Waxed paper is put under the egg and the egg is stabilized on top of a disc - one of the kids old toys. This prevents the egg from rolling over as the baby is emerging from the egg.
This is twenty four hours after pipping.

Over the next few days we will see just the nostrils from the small hole. It is during this period that the baby tortoise is absorbing the yolk sac which it will live off of for several days. We once had a baby who was way too eager to be free from the egg and ended up "sitting" on top of the yolk for the several days that it took to absorb it. As you can see, and please pardon the blurry photo, his feet did not even reach the ground. It's tough to get around that way! In the photo he also still has some egg membrane stuck to his face.
Gradually the egg will develop cracks throughout. As the baby stretches out, the egg shell falls away. Since there is still a small yolk on the plastron (bottom shell) the wax paper provides an area where the yolk will not stick and rupture which could kill the baby.
Once they are completely free of the egg they do a lot of soaking in shallow water. Their shells are very sensitive to the touch and they "jump" each time they run into each other. They are also very high maintenance during the initial outing period because they climb over everything and end up flipping themselves upside down.
I try to imagine them hatching in the ground. They would have to go through all of the above, make it to the surface and then be prey to every bird flying overhead. I guess we baby ours.
I will keep you updated on the progress.


  1. My word, is that ever neat. I've never seen that so "up close and personal"!! Probably missed a story like that on Discovery channel. Anxious to see the next pictures of this birthing process. How many eggs do you have?

  2. Oops, forgot to thank you for the kind offer to find a treadle machine belt. I think I should be able to get one here...haven't had time to check it out yet. Maybe it will have to be a winter project to work on the machine.

  3. That is fascinating - I especially like the shot of just the nose kinda showing. What do you do with them after they are on their own?

    I am imagining the quilt you are imagining - be sure to show pictures when you do it!

  4. How many grankids will this make now?? ;-)

    Fascinating, Mary. Thanks for posting such great photos so we can peek inside the “nursery!”

  5. I have never seen anything like this before - keep the photos coming! Education, you know!

  6. Wow, I've never know anyone to raise turtles from an egg. How interesting. I was mesmerized!

  7. That is amazing! I can't wait to see more pictures!

  8. This is so much fun seeing what those babies go through to hatch! I must show T and D this post, they will be very interested in the whole process. They will have lots of questions! That pic of the baby on the yolk sack is amazing!

    It's feeling rather fallish here this week and the days are getting shorter. So much for summer! lol! We will have more hot weather but the last couple of weeks have been mostly clouds and rain with more to come until Mon or Tues. I feel badly for our VA relatives that are here at the lake!

    Did you get my e-mail thanking you for the beautiful necklace? I sent it to two of your addys as I didn't know which one you are using now. Everyone LOVES it, especially my horsey friends!!

  9. What an amazing story and a great thing to witness

  10. wow! That was just amazing! Thank you for sharing! I had to show my kiddos, they enjoyed this too!!!

  11. Hi! Come on over and get your award! I have selected you as I enjoy your blog so much!