Breeding Sri Lankan Stars - Question

tortoiselife

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Breeding Question - I have a trio of Sri Lankan Stars (female is 3600 grams/8 pounds 16 yrs old ) and the males are approx 350 grams each 6/15 years old. They are all housed together outdoors with heated/temp control house. Only when I acquired the 2nd male (Valentino) I saw him immediately mate with the female a couple of times. She later had 7 eggs and but none were fertile. It has been one year and I have never seen any of the males mating with the female. She has not laid eggs or tried digging in the last year. The males mount each other but not the female. They are much smaller than her but i thought this was normal for the species. Does anyone know if the males are too small or why not mating with the female. Do I need different males? Remove one male? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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G-stars

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Hello. While it is quite possible the female is a Pure Sri Lankan star or Sri Lankan mixed with Indian. The males are most likely full Indian stars. They are much too small, a male adult Sri Lankan should be at least 3x that size.
 

Tom

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Breeding Question - I have a trio of Sri Lankan Stars (female is 3600 grams/8 pounds 16 yrs old ) and the males are approx 350 grams each 6/15 years old. They are all housed together outdoors with heated/temp control house. Only when I acquired the 2nd male (Valentino) I saw him immediately mate with the female a couple of times. She later had 7 eggs and but none were fertile. It has been one year and I have never seen any of the males mating with the female. She has not laid eggs or tried digging in the last year. The males mount each other but not the female. They are much smaller than her but i thought this was normal for the species. Does anyone know if the males are too small or why not mating with the female. Do I need different males? Remove one male? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
What is the temperature of their house? Do you have a heat lamp in there for colder days? What size is the enclosure? Did you diapause the eggs at all?
 

tortoiselife

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Hello. While it is quite possible the female is a Pure Sri Lankan star or Sri Lankan mixed with Indian. The males are most likely full Indian stars. They are much too small, a male adult Sri Lankan should be at least 3x that size.
Wow. Each one was marketed as pure Sri Lankan Stars, but it makes sense that they're too small for her and most likely not. Thanks
 

tortoiselife

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What is the temperature of their house? Do you have a heat lamp in there for colder days? What size is the enclosure? Did you diapause the eggs at all?
Hi Tom, Their outdoor enclosure is about 8' x 20' with a palm tree, date palm, large opuntia cactus, fountain grasses and a fairly large open area. Their house is an insulated door house with thermostat control that kicks when it falls below 65 degrees and turns off at 75 Degrees until it drops back down below 65. The two heat sources are a red heat bulb and a ceramic heat bulb. I also have a ZooMed heat mat on one side of the dog/tortoise house (3'x4'). The males put themselves to bed each night and end up on the mat. The female is brought back in every night and door shut for safe keeping. I did not diapause the eggs. Side Note: She was digging in Dec and never found a good spot to lay the eggs. I was worried she was egg bound so I took her in to vet (Dr Molnar) who induced with Pitocin ( i think it's what he used). I thought i remembered the Star Tortoise book (Jerry Fife) or another source mentioning that diapause was not necessary for Indian Stars so I put them straight into the incubator at recommended temp. I had them in there for 6 months until rotten. I candled to a few times and didn't see anything viable. I did read later on that after a month of candle lighting with no signs of life, I should have removed and diapaused for 30 days and then tried again. Im hoping this year there is another chance to not seen mating. Thanks again
 

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Hi Tom, Their outdoor enclosure is about 8' x 20' with a palm tree, date palm, large opuntia cactus, fountain grasses and a fairly large open area. Their house is an insulated door house with thermostat control that kicks when it falls below 65 degrees and turns off at 75 Degrees until it drops back down below 65. The two heat sources are a red heat bulb and a ceramic heat bulb. I also have a ZooMed heat mat on one side of the dog/tortoise house (3'x4'). The males put themselves to bed each night and end up on the mat. The female is brought back in every night and door shut for safe keeping. I did not diapause the eggs. Side Note: She was digging in Dec and never found a good spot to lay the eggs. I was worried she was egg bound so I took her in to vet (Dr Molnar) who induced with Pitocin ( i think it's what he used). I thought i remembered the Star Tortoise book (Jerry Fife) or another source mentioning that diapause was not necessary for Indian Stars so I put them straight into the incubator at recommended temp. I had them in there for 6 months until rotten. I candled to a few times and didn't see anything viable. I did read later on that after a month of candle lighting with no signs of life, I should have removed and diapaused for 30 days and then tried again. Im hoping this year there is another chance to not seen mating. Thanks again
You are keeping them WAYYYYY too cold. You are lucky they are still alive.

Their night box should never drop below 80 degrees, and every day that is not hot outside, they need a heat lamp to warm them up into the 90s. Daytime ambient should climb into the 90's inside the box, and they should have a basking lamp set to around 100 degrees under it.

Dogs house do not work for tortoises. You need a properly designed and built tortoise night box with insulation and sealed joints and seams. It needs to have a small door with see-through door flaps for daytime, and an insulated door to close up at night.

Red bulbs should never be used for tortoises. They see color bette than we do, and those bulbs mess with their circadian rhythms and distort the appearance of their world. The CHE should be okay for this smaller species, as long as you have the height set correctly. I wouldn't use a heat mat for this species. You'd be better served with a mini radiant oil heater set on a thermostat to maintain ambient, and a basking bulb set on a timer for days that aren't sunny and reaching well into the 80s. This time of year with our cold mornings and cold evenings, they really need the basking bulb outside.

Diapause isn't necessary with Indians, but anecdotally, sometimes a month at room temp before incubation helps. Try it and see.
 

tortoiselife

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Hey Tom, Thanks for the info! I just changed out the second bulb to a CHE and raised the thermostat to 80-90. It was set at 70-75 degrees (still too cold but not 65-75 as reported earlier). I have a camera in there and I'll see how the temp holds going forward. It is an insulated box w freezer flaps & closes up at night so that part appears okay for now. I'm researching the radiant oil heaters now to see what would work best for my current set up or to determine if i need a complete upgrade.

Thanks again for your help. It's greatly appreciated. I've learned so much from this site and only want to do whats best for the torts!
 
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Gijoux

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The males need to be separated and should take turns spending time with the female. It is not recommended to keep just two together. The males will only want to fight each other.
 

Tom

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The males need to be separated and should take turns spending time with the female. It is not recommended to keep just two together. The males will only want to fight each other.
In most cases I would agree with you, but at least some of the time, this does not seem to be an issue with star tortoises species. I don't know about the Sri Lanken types which are a locale specific variation of the Indian stars, but the regular Indians, and the platynota all seem to get along really well with multiple males in any sort of mixed group. I still would never keep them as a pair, but both of my platynota groups have multiple males living together full time and there is no problem. I've seen people do this with Indians too, and they never seem to fight like most tortoise species would.
 

zovick

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Hi Tom, Their outdoor enclosure is about 8' x 20' with a palm tree, date palm, large opuntia cactus, fountain grasses and a fairly large open area. Their house is an insulated door house with thermostat control that kicks when it falls below 65 degrees and turns off at 75 Degrees until it drops back down below 65. The two heat sources are a red heat bulb and a ceramic heat bulb. I also have a ZooMed heat mat on one side of the dog/tortoise house (3'x4'). The males put themselves to bed each night and end up on the mat. The female is brought back in every night and door shut for safe keeping. I did not diapause the eggs. Side Note: She was digging in Dec and never found a good spot to lay the eggs. I was worried she was egg bound so I took her in to vet (Dr Molnar) who induced with Pitocin ( i think it's what he used). I thought i remembered the Star Tortoise book (Jerry Fife) or another source mentioning that diapause was not necessary for Indian Stars so I put them straight into the incubator at recommended temp. I had them in there for 6 months until rotten. I candled to a few times and didn't see anything viable. I did read later on that after a month of candle lighting with no signs of life, I should have removed and diapaused for 30 days and then tried again. Im hoping this year there is another chance to not seen mating. Thanks again
I have bred and hatched hundreds of Indian and Sri Lankan Stars and can tell you that no diapause period is necessary for either species. Just collect the eggs and put them directly into your incubator. If they are fertile, they will develop blood vessels within about 3 weeks or so and will hatch in roughly 90-110 days. If not showing the blood vessels after a month of incubation, cooling them off for a month and re-incubating them will do no good.

Of course, you are perfectly welcome to try cooling them if they do not develop after a month, but that never was necessary in my experience. As I said, if the eggs were fertile, they developed right away with no cooling.
 

Tom

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I have bred and hatched hundreds of Indian and Sri Lankan Stars and can tell you that no diapause period is necessary for either species. Just collect the eggs and put them directly into your incubator. If they are fertile, they will develop blood vessels within about 3 weeks or so and will hatch in roughly 90-110 days. If not showing the blood vessels after a month of incubation, cooling them off for a month and re-incubating them will do no good.

Of course, you are perfectly welcome to try cooling them if they do not develop after a month, but that never was necessary in my experience. As I said, if the eggs were fertile, they developed right away with no cooling.
Thank you for this knowledge Mr. Z.

What say you about housing multiple males with Indians or Sri Lankans?
 

Gijoux

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In most cases I would agree with you, but at least some of the time, this does not seem to be an issue with star tortoises species. I don't know about the Sri Lanken types which are a locale specific variation of the Indian stars, but the regular Indians, and the platynota all seem to get along really well with multiple males in any sort of mixed group. I still would never keep them as a pair, but both of my platynota groups have multiple males living together full time and there is no problem. I've seen people do this with Indians too, and they never seem to fight like most tortoise species would.
It sounded like his males were spending all their time mounting each other and since they seemed so small, I surmised that they were stressed.
 

zovick

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Thank you for this knowledge Mr. Z.

What say you about housing multiple males with Indians or Sri Lankans?
I used to keep my Stars (of all 3 species) in breeding groups of 3.5 animals per group. I found that this sex ratio worked well for me and produced loads of fertile eggs in all three species and the animals did not seem to stress each other.

Of course, if trying to breed a specific pair of animals with each other for fantastic color production rather than just to produce a good number of babies from one's collection, a different strategy is necessary.

In the beginning, I was more concerned with just producing babies and used the 3.5 breeding groups. Later, in generations 2 and 3, I became interested in excellent color production and bred specific animals only to each other for that purpose.

Here are some of my favorite Sri Lankan Stars from those later and more selective breedings:
 

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tortoiselife

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The males need to be separated and should take turns spending time with the female. It is not recommended to keep just two together. The males will only want to fight each other.
Thanks for the info Gijoux, I have heard that separating males from females for a while might help bring back interest once reunited and it might be worth a try. Btw, I recently had the feces checked with my vet and all was normal. All are eating well, strong and active. I have never seen the males fight or show any signs of aggression toward each other or the female. There are a lot of visual barriers in their habitat and they've been together for 3 years. Thanks again
 

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