Help! Hermann tortoise laid broken eggs.

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RGB

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I have recently purchased a beautiful super friendly female hermann. There was successful copulation with my 5 yr old male within a few days. The 7 yr old female then had her first clutch of eggs ever about 4-6 weeks later. However, the three eggs all cracked curcumferentially around the center just prior to being laid and were delivered cracked. I had provided a lot of calcium to this tortoise over the few months I had her. I then really tried to increase her calcium intake over next couple weeks and she did lay a second clutch of 2 eggs, and again both were cracked. The shells did seem less brittle ( unlike the first clutch, the shell pieces did not crush when she moved them around with her hind legs in the nest- i have the very first attempt at laying on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaKrXXRTotQ
if you got to the 2 min mark you will hear a little crack noise and then the egg comes out broken. 2 weeks later she had stronger, but still similarily broken eggs.) The calcium I have been using is calcium carbonate with D3. I live in a northern area. My torts are kept inside.
She shuffles her shell along possibly due to calcium insufficiency, possibly from walking on glass.
I just discovered the eggs are a couple mm's larger than her boney orifice between the plastron and the posterior scute of her shell. given she is so young (7yrs) and only 5" maybe she is just too small to be egg laying yet! i'm glad she has not become egg bound and hopefully by correcting any dietary problems (ie. calcium deficiency) she will grow healthily and have normal eggs in the future. (one of my fears is that if she has well calcified eggs anytime soon, they may not crack and she may become egg bound.)

My questions are: has anyone else experienced this? Could it simply be calcium deficiency? What about D3 toxicity? Can a tortoise really be too small to let the egg out? Any other suggestion? Could this just be a genetic or structural abnormality that will never allow this tortoise to lay intact eggs? Will she grow significantly more to allow for egg delivery?Any comments welcome!

i will attempt to put some pics below...........
plastron.jpg

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tortmeasurement.jpg

egg2.jpg

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Yvonne G

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Hi RGB:

Welcome to the Tortoise Forum!!

What would you like us to call you?

Wow! Sorry about the eggs. Normally tortoise eggs are slightly pliable and harden once the air hits them. So it wouldn't matter that the opening is slightly smaller than the egg. Sounds like your eggs are hardening before the air hits them. I don't know what to tell you. GBTortoises has Hermanns and Greeks and gets many eggs each year. I'll send him a PM about this thread.
 

RGB

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Thanks!
That gives me hope! I'm interested to see if others have had this experience.
I believe this is a very unusual story....
Bob
1.1 hermanns
2.3 Juvenile Greeks
1.0 juvenile leopard tortoise
1.0 eastern box
0.6 kids !
0.6 Kidd
 

GBtortoises

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I have never had what you're describing happen. I just quickly measured the same area that you posted a photo of on two of my fully grown Eastern and three fully grown Dalmatian Hermann's. Both Easterns were 2cm exactly. The Dalmatians ranged from 2-3cm. but Dalmatians generally produce larger eggs, less quantity per clutch than Easterns do.
The cause could possibly be thin egg shells but I would think they would more likely have several hairline cracks rather than splitting in the same spot on each one. That would make me think that as it is due to something with the female's physical features. Not to be insulting, but she does show very obvious signs of accelerated growth indicated by a very "wrinkled" looking plastron, a very highly domed carapace as well as very laterally elongated marginal scute growth. I would also say that her "shuffling her shell" can be due possibly to two causes: If it appears that she is dragging her back legs, not using them well, this can be from calcium deficiency. If she is using her back legs, but they constantly splay to the sides, or are used in a sideways manner to walk, this is from being kept on a smooth surface (glass, newspaper, etc...) where her legs muscles did not properly develop due to lack of resistance and footing.
Regardless of subspecies, if her age is acturate her size big enough for egg laying.
I am curious, were you told what subspecies of Hermann's that she is? Which subspecies is your male? Her size/age comparison, shape, plastral markings and general coloration point to her being a Western Hermann's which are the least commonly available subspecies of Hermann's in the U.S.
 

RGB

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I have only had her for 3 months and don't have a great history from her previous owner. I think she has splayed back legs from smooth surface, but likely has chronic calcium defiency as well. I have been able to give her a good surface to walk on and have been giving lots of calcium. She now carries her shell up a little but not near what she should.
It was only sold to me as a hermann, I'm not sure the subspecies. The male I have is even smaller, 5 yrs old and looks even more western than this female to me.

I guess the biggest question is whether she is able to lay eggs at this size, or is she at high risk of becoming egg bound? Sounds like GBTortoises has tortoises with a similar opening size that is probably smaller than the eggs....

.... And she needs to be maintained on a healthy high calcium diet regardless!

Is anyone concerned about her size relative to the size of her eggs?
Bob
 

RGB

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GREAT NEWS!!!

After 3 more weeks of really adding a lot of calcium and vitamins to her food, she laid a third clutch. The first egg came out split completely in two spilling the yolk into the nest. However, the next three came out intact and were retrieved successfully. Two appear a little smaller than the originally described eggs, although one still seems larger. The larger has a slight indentation along the side.
One wonders if she has just 'figured it out biologically' as the first few eggs often are misshappen, or if the extra calcium/vitamins made a difference. We will probably never know for sure!

The three eggs are currently incubating at 31.5-32'C and after 54 hrs i noticed they began to 'chalk'. The 'chalked' area continues to enlarge (its now day 5), and covers about 1/3 of the top half of the egg.

At 54hrs.......
chalkedegg.jpg


THANKS SO MUCH FOR EVERYONE'S HELP!! MUCH APPRECIATED!!
I'LL LET YOU KNOW HOW THEY TURN OUT IN ABOUT 60 DAYS!

CHEERS,
BOB
 

Englishrose

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just reading through todays posts, and came across this one, just wondered if there was any hatchlings yet?

I have a male and female western hermanns, they are almost 4 yrs old, lots of copulation, as yet no eggs

Kae

RGB said:
GREAT NEWS!!!

After 3 more weeks of really adding a lot of calcium and vitamins to her food, she laid a third clutch. The first egg came out split completely in two spilling the yolk into the nest. However, the next three came out intact and were retrieved successfully. Two appear a little smaller than the originally described eggs, although one still seems larger. The larger has a slight indentation along the side.
One wonders if she has just 'figured it out biologically' as the first few eggs often are misshappen, or if the extra calcium/vitamins made a difference. We will probably never know for sure!

The three eggs are currently incubating at 31.5-32'C and after 54 hrs i noticed they began to 'chalk'. The 'chalked' area continues to enlarge (its now day 5), and covers about 1/3 of the top half of the egg.

At 54hrs.......
chalkedegg.jpg


THANKS SO MUCH FOR EVERYONE'S HELP!! MUCH APPRECIATED!!
I'LL LET YOU KNOW HOW THEY TURN OUT IN ABOUT 60 DAYS!

CHEERS,
BOB
 

RGB

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Thanks for the interest!
One of the three eggs split after about 2weeks possibly due to too damp perculite incubating medium, it survived and grew till near hatch time, then died due to complications of the cracked shell.
One egg hatched at day 53, and is currently doing great!!!
The third egg died in the shell. It was full grown but appeared to be missing an egg tooth.

In the end, this female tortoise laid 6 clutches, with 13 eggs in total. 4 were fertile. Three are listed above and one remaining egg is currently day 72, but I suspect it is dead in the shell as well. It looks similar to my other dead in the shell with a few dark spots indicating scratching inside that never progressed to breaking out if the shell.
When I get time I planned on starting a thread about what I could be doing to improve hatch rate. I still wonder if this mother is creating not perfect shells. But definitely improving as the cracking has stopped.

I'm very happy to have gotten one hatchling out of this egg cracking adventure... But saddened that I only hatched one of four successfully....
 

RGB

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love to!!!

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that should be enough!!
my daughters named her "lucky" since she survived the drama of cracking eggs and was the only one to hatch! she's definitely lucky.
Bob
 

netz67

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what a stunning hatchling , love the name and good luck with future eggs/ hatchings
 

CactusVinnie

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Hi Bob,

Where do you live, in fact? You can add location in profile.
It is definitely not good to keep such animal inside. Much debate on hibernation- I am PRO- but always incomparable tonus and health when tortoises are kept outdoors until freezing weather came.
I would not hibernate such a tortoise yet, only allowing some sleep in cold temperatures for a few days, then active for a week and so on- kind of a "interrupted" hibernation, but i suppose you don't want to complicate things for now... animal too decalcified and weak.
Your female is quite deformed, but with care, she can became a good breeder- you already saw improvement.

As for incubation, you can go with 28-30*C initially until day 15-20, then up to 33-34*C for the next 30, allowing to decrease naturally by night, down to 25-28*C. After that, sex is locked in, and you can keep any temperature you want or is easier, until hatch. Some prefer to let it cooler, but 33-34*C are not that high. It is even unnatural, in my opinion, after reading probes in semi-natural nests (in my yard). It is always hotter during that second interval, and even until hatch.
Temps rising up to 37*C are common in natural nests, and you can keep them up to 4-6 hours during the second interval if you wish.

Always let temps decrease by night, stop heating for 10 hours. That hardens the embryo and let him "breathe" and rest, reduces anomalies, reduce premature hatch (under 60 it is too soon, even if well formed as yours) and allow for some biochemical processes to develop in a natural, oscilating manner.
There is no liniar temperature in nature. We just can go on a narrower path, to limit the extremes, in order to be on the safe side, but not excluding all variations.

Congrats for the good job!
 
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