When to soak new hatchling

cecates

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Oct 31, 2016
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I am so sorry to ask a bunch of questions but our first Russian Tortoise egg hatched this morning.

I've read several posts on new hatchling care including the How to Incubate Eggs and start Hatchlings. The baby is in the incubator inside a plastic shoe box lined with damp white paper towels. The temp is 30C and 87% humidity.

I understand from Tom's how to start hatchlings that I should have soaked the baby as soon as it left its shell. I am very nervous about harming the baby and was hoping for a bit more specific advice on how warm should the water be, how long should the baby soak, and how high should the water be (for instance up to the side of the shell?) Should I put the soaking pan in the incubator so the baby stays warm while soaking. When I put the baby back in the brooder box I should offer it food today even though its yolk sac is not fully absorbed.

This egg is from the first of three clutches laid over the summer. The clutches were laid two weeks apart with 4, 3, 1 egg in each clutch. They all seemed to be developing well until about a week ago when the shell's of the other three eggs from the first clutch started turning very dark almost black. I am concerned something is wrong but don't want to take them out of the incubator in case they are viable but am worried if something is wrong it could spread to the other four eggs in the incubator. The hatchling is in a different incubator than the eggs (we have two incubators). Has anyone experienced eggs turned nearly dark?

Again, I am sorry for all the questions. I am very nervous as this is our first time with eggs.
Thank you,
Charlotte
 

Tom

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Good heavens! Don't be sorry. We are all here to talk tortoises. Nothing to be sorry about! :)

I'll take a crack at answering your questions, but feel free to ask more and for more clarification any time.

  1. Keep the soaking water about the same temp as the incubator. So in your case around 30 or a little warmer. I'd say a range of 30-35. To keep it warm you can soak the baby in a little tub inside the incubator.
  2. 5-10 minutes is enough daily soak time for a new hatchling.
  3. Make the water about as deep as the bridge between the carapace and plastron. I usually go a little deeper than that, but go with your comfort level.
  4. Yes. Offer food from day one. They sometimes don't do much for the first day or two, but I often see scallop shaped bite marks even on day one with a big honkin' yolk sac. Without food to munch on, many of them will munch on the paper towels… which brings me to…
  5. I only use paper towels on day one now. After that I use an alternating bed of broadleaf plantain leaves and big grape vine leaves instead of the paper towels. I still leave a small pile of other foods in the middle of the brooder box, but I like knowing that if they nibble on their "substrate" it won't harm them.
  6. Show us a pic of the darkened eggs. Sometimes they darken before hatching because there is a big dark baby in there. In any case, even if one or more eggs are rotten, it won't harm the other eggs. Try the "sniff test". Remove any rotten smelling eggs that fail the sniff test. Sulcatas lay clutches of 30+ eggs sometimes. Its not unusual for one to go bad and stink up the whole incubator. Sometimes a non-viable egg will crack open or grow fungus. The rest of the eggs still hatch just fine. Its not really contagious to the healthy eggs. So rest easy and be patient.
Enjoy your first baby. It is still positively amazing even after you seen it happen hundreds of times. The miracle of life!!! I don't know if there is anything on earth cuter than little mini tortoises clomping around in their brooder boxes or soaking containers.
 

cecates

New Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2016
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas
Sorry my text ended up below the photos. Thank you so much for the information and support!

IMG_1453.JPG IMG_1454.JPG IMG_1455.JPG Thank you so much for responding so quickly and the great information. The dark eggs do not smell and seem less dark today. I am not sure why that would be though. I have attached photos. These eggs were laid on June 22. Egg 4 never seemed to develop and is still clear without veining. But eggs one and three had the white band and then chalked over. We even saw the dark spots which we thought were embryos two weeks ago. When I took the container out of the incubator this evening for the photo I saw fluid sloshing under the air bubble on egg 1.

I am a biology instructor at a community college. The tortoises were donated to the school last December and are campus favorites, so I am hoping I haven't done something wrong which killed the developing embryos. It's amazing how attached the students, faculty, staff, and I have become to these eggs. I had the incubator humidity about 90% which I realize now was too high. All my biology education has not prepared me for this.

Thank you again for all your great information. I would have no idea what to do if it were not for this group.
 
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