So You Cracked an Egg....


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It seems to be a relatively common occurrence for one to accidentally crack a tortoise egg. Countless people have come to me over the years with advice for what to you when this happens. The egg slipped, it rolled, it fell, I dropped it and/or the mom cracked it during the nesting event. Some even push too hard and crack them with the pencil they write on them with. It happens, we are humans and we make mistakes as if we're getting paid to. The immediate response to realizing you've cracked an egg is panic, terror and instant guilt.. usually. Even after hatching hundreds of tortoises yearly, when this happens I feel like a complete amateur and hate myself for it. The truth is, at any developmental stage, a cracked egg can be salvaged and result in a perfectly normal baby. Of course certain stages in development are less likely to overcome a 'hit" like this than others but it is always worth trying to save it.

The following is a success story captured with photos. This egg was a victim of a drop, only it wasn't dropped, another egg was dropped on top of it. While examining several clutches one evening, I simply lost my soft grip on one egg and it fell directly on top of another. The egg I dropped suffered no cracks at all and hatched just fine but the one it landed on was not so lucky. The top of the egg caved in, cracked and even opened a bit. I could not tell if the membrane was ripped but I quickly attempted to fix it. The egg was already incubating for 43 days at this point and for Hermann's tortoises which typically take between 53 and 70+ days to pip (depending on temperature), you can see it was pretty far along.

I made good use of liquid bandage sold as "New Skin" and generously applied it to the entire top of the egg. I then cut a small piece of paper towel, folded it a few times, pressed gently to the top of the egg and again saturated it with more liquid bandage. It dried pretty swiftly and I placed it back into the incubator where it was. I had no idea what to expect with this one because the trauma to the egg was pretty bad and I still had no clue what kind of damage was done to the inside and/or the animal itself. I left it alone and did not touch it at all.

Sure enough, at a total of 63 days, I noticed the classic pipping of the baby tortoise as it slowly started to break the shell and push its snout through. It began to emerge away from where the damage was and I am happy to say that it is a perfectly formed, healthy and robust baby.

The following images capture some of the event.

Photo one:
The damaged egg showing the piece of paper towel glued down with liquid bandage. All that is seen on the egg is the locale of Western Hermann's tortoise that this was which is "Apulia", Italy. The date and studbook number of the mother are now covered by the towel because it's where the damage is. All our eggs are labeled regardless of species. If it's a studbook animal such as Western Hermann's or Coahuilan box turtle for example, more information is written on it like SB or SSP#, dates etc. If it's something as simple as a species not in any survival program such as Star tortoise, only the species and date are written and a note is made on who mom was.

Photo two:
The beginning of the baby pipping can be seen. Note that it is trying to emerge away from the damage. This is most likely due to the placement of the baby inside but also could be that the tortoise tried to emerge upwards and couldn't.

Photo three:
The baby has now broken a significant amount of the egg shell away while the damaged top is still intact from my efforts.

Photo four:
In this image, I have pulled the paper towel piece up to show the damage underneath which is still safely glued together from the liquid bandage.

Photo five:
After a full day, the baby is half way out and showing all signs that it is normal.

Photo six:
Welcome to the world, your name can be "Close Call".
No damage to the baby at all. It exhibits a perfectly formed carapace.

These situations don't always end like this but it's nice to hear a success story. This method worked very well and I do believe that not hesitating and getting right to it had something to do with this baby's life being saved. Hopefully this will help some of you who aren't sure what to do when this accidentally happens.



The member formerly known as captain awesome
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I've always been told that as long as the membrane is intact it still is good. of course I'm far beyond human :)


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Well that's not always true. The embryo can still completely fail even when the membrane is totally unharmed. Depends on the situation, the severity of the hit and also how precise the incubation circumstances are.


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I realize that this is an older posting as well...but does anyone use rice paper for repairs?

Team Gomberg

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Southern Oregon
Did you have to clean the area before applying the liquid bandage and paper towel? Is there a risk of contamination, bacteria or infection at the crack site if it's not cleaned first?


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Olmito, Tx
How long before this method can be done? I have very slightly cracked eggs JUST laid and no liquid bandage.
Is it possible for them to hatch with out the patch method???