1 Clutch, 1 Egg, and an Empty Burrow

Bri_Armentrout

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Joined
Aug 20, 2016
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5
Hi Everyone,

I have two California Desert Tortoises, 1 Male, 1 Female. We aren't exactly sure of the age of our Male, as we are the 4th owners - It was a "he comes with the house situation." When we first moved in, he was thought to be around 70... Our female we got as a hatching, around the same time with another from her clutch, but she was the only one to make it.

Fast forward 15 Years. Last year was the first year our female laid an egg ( She's about 9" ). But to our knowledge, only 1 clutch was laid, and only 1 egg was found. Unfortunately our puppy found it before we did.

This year I didn't want that to happen so I've been keeping a close eye on her. We have a very large backyard where they roam free, so sometimes we go days without seeing them. Any ways, I noticed early on in the week that she was "scratching and sniffing" multiple areas in the yard, and making test nests. Well today I go outside to check on the her - She is no where to be found... However, there is a nice shiny white egg sitting on TOP of a mound freshly dug up dirt.

15 minutes later she was back to digging at her original spot, which lasted about 10 minutes. Then without laying any eggs, covered her whole back up and walked away.

I'm so confused. Obviously I need to protect the egg, but I would much rather let it stay outside in a protected area, then going to buy an incubator...

Any advice, tips, knowledge about what happened?

Thanks!
Bri
 

Yvonne G

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Well, the rules regarding desert tortoises have made your incubator-buying decision for you. It is against the law to artificially incubate desert tortoise eggs. The Department of Fish and Wildlife for California recommend not keeping males and females together, and they discourage allowing them to breed. If you happen to adopt a gravid female, you can leave the eggs in the ground to incubate naturally, but you can't put them into an incubator.
 

Bri_Armentrout

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Aug 20, 2016
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Well, the rules regarding desert tortoises have made your incubator-buying decision for you. It is against the law to artificially incubate desert tortoise eggs. The Department of Fish and Wildlife for California recommend not keeping males and females together, and they discourage allowing them to breed. If you happen to adopt a gravid female, you can leave the eggs in the ground to incubate naturally, but you can't put them into an incubator.

Thanks for your reply! From now on I'll keep them separate, however it doesn't solve my current egg problem. If I can't incubate it, and it's not underground already... Then what should I do?
 

Chanchara

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Jul 23, 2016
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Cyprus, Croatia
My tort several times did such things.
Laid eggs, then buried, and then suddenly pulled down just one more egg on top of the earth.

 

tortoise5643

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Thanks for your reply! From now on I'll keep them separate, however it doesn't solve my current egg problem. If I can't incubate it, and it's not underground already... Then what should I do?
Based on what Yvonne said, I would bury it about 8 inches deep, cover it, and let it naturally incubate. Putting a cage or something over it will protect it and allow you to locate it if it does hatch.
 

Bri_Armentrout

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Aug 20, 2016
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I'm pretty sure she's going to lay more eggs. She's been digging non stop since she dropped the first. She has a hole she's currently digging that she has covered up about 3 times and gone back to every morning and restarted digging. Is this normal behavior?
 

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