Arizona Sulcata Hatchlings!

Tortlex

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
36
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, AZ
Hello all,

I'd like to share my experience with incubating a clutch of rescued sulcata eggs from my mother-in-law's ranch in Tucson this past summer 2018...

My mother-in-law has a dog boarding and breeding business, with enough property to house rescue adult sulcatas too. Although she does not actively breed the tortoises, inevitably some females lay eggs each year. She has always collected the babies and carefully rehomed them to serious tortoise caregivers.

On May 2, 2018, during one of our occasional trips out there to visit from Phoenix, we noticed a rare event! A mother female sulcata in her nest laying her eggs right before our eyes. Rather than let them go full term in the ground, where many of the large dogs would often typically try to dig them up, my wife and I carefully dug them up and immediately placed them into an incubator that we happened to have. We waited for the mother to be completely done with her nesting before carefully removing each one. We rescued 32 eggs from the nest...

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Some were inevitably cracked from the nesting process, but we still gave them a chance to hatch. The 7 that were cracked were infertile and never chalked, and two uncracked ones turned out to be infertile as well. We were amazed that after a little over 3 months, we had 22 beautiful and healthy sulcata hatchling babies...

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They started hatching on August 12, 2018...
...and we had a full group within about 2 weeks time with a couple outliers near the end of August.

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I had been reading and learning about the proper care of hatchling babies for quite some time a as reader here for a couple years before joining recently. I already owned two older sulcatas from hatchling age 2 years prior and had taken great care in creating the proper conditions for them from the information provided by some very seasoned and knowledgeable members here like @Tom and @Yvonne G , just to name a few whose information, experience and knowledge has been extremely helpful. I was dedicated to doing EVERYTHING right.

The daily soaks, proper food gathering and growing of grasses, with as much variety as possible began. From birth, these little guys got the best possible care I could give, striving for perfection in their enclosures, with plenty of humidity, daily UVB and supervised outside time...

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I eventually found home for all of the babies, except for 1 baby that I kept...
...his name is Fin...

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Oh and one of his siblings is still left over waiting for a great home...
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Interestingly enough my mother-in-law found another smaller clutch of hatchling babies emerging in her yard about a month later on September 21st...


..but I'll talk about the cool find in that clutch in a few posts from now...
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Tortlex

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
36
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, AZ
Chapter 2 is on its way soon! YvonneG, you have a keen eye to spot that shell pattern. I spotted it right away too when I was first shown the pictures before acquiring the babies. The little one you see has a VERY interesting scute pattern. More pics to come...
 

Tortlex

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
36
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, AZ
There were a total of 9 additional hatchlings that my mother-in-law found in her yard about a month after my eggs hatched. When she rinsed them off it confirmed what I had seen from the first picture in the yard, a baby with a very interesting pattern of aberrant scutes...

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I was immediately concerned that he would start growing in an unusual way, one that might harm him eventually because the first pic looked like he had no center dividing scute growth line and would eventually just grow longer, but not expand wider, which would be devastating and eventually fatal for the little tortoise. But upon seeing him cleaned off a bit, and later holding him in person, it was evident that he had a distinct central "line" from which the shell would eventually expand from. I find in completely fascinating that he has no central or "vertebral" scutes. The front and rear scutes are also very unique. He also has never completely puffed out or unfolded on the underside. His underside still looks that way. He is also a much more rounded shape in comparison to normal sulcatas which are more oblong in shape. You can see this in the comparison shot with him and his siblings above.

Here is a picture of him outside...

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And then here he is just chilling in my hands, looks at those legs astretchin! Haha!

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This little guy has the coolest personality, he loves warm water soaks and literally lifts his head pointing straight up when you drip warm water on his little head. Such a cool little lifeform.

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Here are some more close-up shots of him soaking in his daily warm water bath so you can see the uniqueness of this little one...

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I'd be interested to hear what everyone who stumbles across this thread thinks of this little cute anomaly. I wish I could see what he is going to look like as a full grown adult sulcata!


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Yvonne G

Old Timer
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10 Year Member!
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Jan 23, 2008
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
There were a total of 9 additional hatchlings that my mother-in-law found in her yard about a month after my eggs hatched. When she rinsed them off it confirmed what I had seen from the first picture in the yard, a baby with a very interesting pattern of aberrant scutes...

View attachment 262112 View attachment 262123 View attachment 262113 View attachment 262122

I was immediately concerned that he would start growing in an unusual way, one that might harm him eventually because the first pic looked like he had no center dividing scute growth line and would eventually just grow longer, but not expand wider, which would be devastating and eventually fatal for the little tortoise. But upon seeing him cleaned off a bit, and later holding him in person, it was evident that he had a distinct central "line" from which the shell would eventually expand from. I find in completely fascinating that he has no central or "vertebral" scutes. The front and rear scutes are also very unique. He also has never completely puffed out or unfolded on the underside. His underside still looks that way. He is also a much more rounded shape in comparison to normal sulcatas which are more oblong in shape. You can see this in the comparison shot with him and his siblings above.

Here is a picture of him outside...

View attachment 262114

And then here he is just chilling in my hands, looks at those legs astretchin! Haha!

View attachment 262115

This little guy has the coolest personality, he loves warm water soaks and literally lifts his head pointing straight up when you drip warm water on his little head. Such a cool little lifeform.

View attachment 262120

Here are some more close-up shots of him soaking in his daily warm water bath so you can see the uniqueness of this little one...

View attachment 262116 View attachment 262117 View attachment 262118 View attachment 262119 View attachment 262121

I'd be interested to hear what everyone who stumbles across this thread thinks of this little cute anomaly. I wish I could see what he is going to look like as a full grown adult sulcata!


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SEND HIM TO ME!!!!! I'LL KEEP YOU APPRISED OF WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE AS HE GROWS!!!!!!!!
 

EllieMay

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Jun 23, 2018
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9,603
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East Texas
He is amazing! Absolutely adorable as well. If I was face to face with the decision to take him home, I’m pretty sure he would throw my best laid intentions out the window. !!! I will look forward to seeing his progress !!
 

Tortlex

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
36
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, AZ
Thank you all so much! Yes he is a very interesting little tortoise. I look forward to watching his progress into adulthood. He will be going to a great home with Yvonne G in the spring time when it is warm enough to get him there. I am super stoked about this! :)

I also need to find a great home for this little one (pictured below), slightly older (5 months). This is Fin's last remaining brother or sister, way too early to tell, that I have raised from an egg. But I saved the best for last and really really want him (or her) to go to a great home with someone who will take excellent care of this little baby for life. As you can see, he's been in perfect living conditions since hatching out of the egg. Look at that growth! Shell is absolutely PERFECT!!!

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Please message me for details if you are interested!
 

Yvonne G

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10 Year Member!
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Jan 23, 2008
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Clovis, CA
I'm really
Awwwww! Congrats @Yvonne G ! I am so proud your getting that special baby so I can see its progress!!! yayyyy!!!
They are all beautiful but I am partial to the “special” ones:)
I'm really looking forward to having it here. As you may or may not know, I LOVE the aberrant scute babies!!!!!
 
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