Is it ever appropriate to reposition a tortoise egg?

turtlesteve

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So, I am a bit distraught today. I have been incubating a spider tortoise egg for a long time now, and I'm about 2-3 weeks prior to expected hatch date. Today I noticed something looked "off" when candling the egg and I checked for a heartbeat (using the Avitronics egg buddy) and ... nothing. It appears to have died sometime within the past couple days (I had a good heartbeat a few days ago). I am not tossing it yet, but I am about 98% sure this little guy didn't make it. This would have been my first hatchling of the species.

On candling, I can see that the baby is fully formed, but small (the yolk sac is two or three times the size of the hatchling). The thing is, he was positioned sideways with his head pointed straight down. So, I know we are not supposed to turn reptile eggs, but I am wondering if he passed because his head was positioned badly, given that the air sac is at the top of the egg. I'm sure there could be other reasons too. I bought the egg buddy so that I could intervene, if needed, at the time of hatching - but this one was not ready yet - even if I had caught that it was in distress, I would have no idea what to do about it.

Has anyone ever run into this situation? Is there ever an appropriate time to intentionally rotate an egg to better position the hatchling for survival? Is this even preventable at all?

Steve
 

Yvonne G

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I've seen babies inside the egg, while using their egg tooth to 'break out,' rotate slowly inside the egg while tap, tapping to break the egg. Maybe your baby died during this process.
 

turtlesteve

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Thanks Yvonne. I guess I really won't know. It would have definitely been premature for hatching, but maybe he was oxygen starved and trying to pip anyways. I am now quite sure he's gone though. Bummer, and I just wish I understood what went wrong.
 

Markw84

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So, I am a bit distraught today. I have been incubating a spider tortoise egg for a long time now, and I'm about 2-3 weeks prior to expected hatch date. Today I noticed something looked "off" when candling the egg and I checked for a heartbeat (using the Avitronics egg buddy) and ... nothing. It appears to have died sometime within the past couple days (I had a good heartbeat a few days ago). I am not tossing it yet, but I am about 98% sure this little guy didn't make it. This would have been my first hatchling of the species.

On candling, I can see that the baby is fully formed, but small (the yolk sac is two or three times the size of the hatchling). The thing is, he was positioned sideways with his head pointed straight down. So, I know we are not supposed to turn reptile eggs, but I am wondering if he passed because his head was positioned badly, given that the air sac is at the top of the egg. I'm sure there could be other reasons too. I bought the egg buddy so that I could intervene, if needed, at the time of hatching - but this one was not ready yet - even if I had caught that it was in distress, I would have no idea what to do about it.

Has anyone ever run into this situation? Is there ever an appropriate time to intentionally rotate an egg to better position the hatchling for survival? Is this even preventable at all?

Steve
Steve

I should be OK to reposition an egg that far along with no harm. The most fragile time is when the embryo is attaching to the shell when development is first starting. At those first stages, if the embryo comes loose, it will kill it. Later in development, that attachment is then to the yolk sac and not to the eggshell inner membrane. I have re-positioned a few eggs a bit further along than yours noting a head down or upside down position with no harm and later hatched. We have transported eggs, much like tort stork, within a few weeks of projected hatching with good results and no damage to the baby. I have seen nests of snapping turtle eggs accidentally dug up and then incubated that were still 3 weeks from hatching. Those eggs were totally turned and tossed while dug up before it was realized there were turtle eggs there.
 
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