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Russian Tortoise Breeding

Discussion in 'Tortoise Breeding' started by MorganM, Dec 4, 2011.

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  1. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    I just recently got a pair of russians( I've had them for 2 days).The male 5 1/4is in and the female is 6 1/2in. I was told by the previous owner that they had been mating for the past month but had recently stopped. That's the reason why they were selling them because they didn't want eggs.

    These are my first torts, so I just want to make sure I'm doing everything right for them. So my questions are:

    Should I be feeding them( or just the female) anything special in case she's gravid?

    I know I'm supposed to watch for her digging with her back legs, is there anything else to give warning that she's going to lay?

    I have a hovabator incubator (no egg turner), if I do get eggs what temp should I keep them at?

    And of course any advice is great, so please tell all!
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    Hi MorganM:

    Welcome to the Tortoise Forum!!

    May we know your name and where you are?

    I was going to tell you that you probably won't get eggs unless you have a habitat set up outside, but then I remembered that my tortoise partner kept a group of testudo horsfieldii in his apartment in Philly and the females laid eggs all the time.

    So, if you provide her with the correct substrate and conditions, you just might be successful.

    As for the incubation...let's don't count our chickens until the eggs are actually laid! :p
  3. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    My name is Morgan and I'm from AL.

    I'll just keep an eye out for now then. I don't know how they kept them before but I have them on a sand and coco coir mix along with a small patch of sand and cypress mulch on one side. I plan on setting them an area up outside for when it gets warmer again. I don't want to hibernate them this year.

    I own and breed snakes and I know you can tell when they are gravid by a constant weight gain. Can you tell if the Russian torts are by weight?
  4. pdrobber

    pdrobber Active Member

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    welcome. I have Russians as well, am actually looking into getting them breeding someday. They're about the same size as yours. interesting questions, I'm curious to find out the answers.
  5. gopherhockey03

    gopherhockey03 Member

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  6. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    Thanks for the response!
    They came with a calcium spray. (I think zoo med brand?) Is that safe to use or should I use the powdered calcium with D3 that I give my snakes?

    I will be looking for another female, I plan on building them an outdoor area for next year so there will be plenty of room for new additions then but for the here and now there isn't enough room in the current area for another.

    That link is one of the threads I was looking over :) Thanks though!
  7. GBtortoises

    GBtortoises Active Member

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    Gravid female Testudo will often stop eating a few days before nesting. Some will consume more water during that time, but this isn't as common with Russians. They will usually pace or wander around the enclosure stiffing the ground, sometimes pawing a bit with their front feet and then sniffing the spot, most likely to test the humidity or consistency of the soil looking for an optimum nest site. Some will bask more often than usual the last few days leading up to nesting. If possible the male should be removed during this time to so the female is not interfered with. As well as a few days after actually nesting. Once they nest they will usually go back to normal activity but will often consume more water, food and calcium than normal for a few days to a week or sometimes longer.

    Offer additional calcium in the form of cuttlebone pieces within their enclosure. This will allow the female to consume as much as she wants as often as she wants. Additional calcium intake is just as important after laying a clutch of eggs as it is before. If she does produce eggs keep in mind also that there may well be a second (and third) clutch of eggs around 2-4 weeks after the first clutch.

    Nesting substrate for Russians should be as deep as possible. A minimum of 6" and 8-10" is much better. I've had 6.5" females nearly standing vertically in 8" deep substrate digging even deeper.

    Always assume that a female will nest and lay eggs if she begins to act like she may be gravid. If and when she does incubate them with the assumption that they are fertile.
  8. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    Thanks!

    My little Tippy is very much a pig right now, she'll eat a whole plate of greens and I have to hand feed Tonka just so he gets some. They have a cuttle bone but I haven't seen her eat on it any. Should I break it up to leave it whole? It does have some bites out of it from before I got them.

    Right now she has about 5" of substrate and that's about all I can put with them in their current home(she's almost gotten out already). I'll be building them something bigger and deeper after X-mas but if she starts acting as if she'll lay should I could move her into a 20L tank for a short time... Would that stress her out too much?

    I really appreciate the advice, I think it's better to be prepared than to have no idea what's going on if she started popping out eggs.
  9. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    So I just went to check on the torts to find tippy in one cornor digging with her back legs. This is the first time ive seen her dig! Im setting up a quicky tub that will be deeper for her, I hope it wont stress her to be moved, I thought id have more time for this....[hr]
    After looking at the signs you listed shes done.more.than a few of those thing in the past couple.of.days... I'm just not used to their habbits so I didnt notice a difference. She does bask alot... Most of the day in fact, but she hasnt stopped eating. Like I said she's been a pig since I got her. She did pace a bit and i've caught her a couple of times almost going over the side of their encloser. She did dig the same corner one time with her front legs but she covered it back up...

    I've got her in a 51q tub, it's taller than it is wide so that she would have more room to dig. The substate on it is a mix of aspen, coco husk, and sand. I didn't have enough of just the husk and sand to make it deep enough. I covered the sides of the tub with newspaper since it's clear. She's trying to climb the wall of the tub now... Oh and Tippy being a pig the first thing she did in the new tub was nibble a peice of aspen, is tv
    Hat going to hurt her?
  10. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    I started thinking that maybe Tippy wasn't going to lay any eggs, once I had moved her into the new bin she stopped digging with her back legs and just slept all day. She ate like normal. This morning I walked into the reptile room, which is pretty dark until I flip on the room light... Which for some reason I didn't and I just walked right over to the Torts and flip their light on. And there was Tippy, in a hole. I could just barely make out a little white egg behind her. I flipped the light back off and I've left the room, I'll check back every once in a while to see if she's covered them up and then I'll put them in the incubator. I'll be using sphagnum moss to cradle the eggs, i used that with my snake eggs and I like how it keeps the humidity up.

    Any advice is welcome... When should I be expecting them to hatch?
  11. GBtortoises

    GBtortoises Active Member

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    Sometimes they will completely suprise you! Congratulations on the eggs. Just about any incubation medium is fine as long as the incubator overall maintains a humidity of about 60-75%, even as high as 80% is fine but generally for most Testudo eggs a range of 65-70% seems to be best. While you don't want them to become too dry, you also don't want them to be damp. Depending upon the temperature that you're incubating at you can expect hatchlings in about 55-65 days. Incubation temperature range should be within 86-89 degrees. Russian tortoises are temperature sex dependent (TSD), meaning that they're gender can be determined by incubation temperatures. Lower temperatures produce more males, higher temperatures produce more females. There is no guarantee that you would get all of one gender or the other, but usually a majority of one depending upon what you incubate at.
  12. ReptileStation

    ReptileStation Member

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    How many eggs did she lay?
  13. MorganM

    MorganM New Member

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    She had one but it is very small. It's in the incubator just in case but I dont think it'll hatch. she's on a better diet now so maybe if she has any more they'll be fertile/healthier.
  14. tortiechik

    tortiechik New Member

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    Any advice is welcome... When should I be expecting them to hatch?
    [/quote]

    go to http://russiantortoise.org/ and you can find about anything you need to know
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