Can Desert Tortoise eggs incubate and hatch in a backyard nest?

izwiz1010

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My 15 year old Desert Tortoise hatched eggs in a nest at the mouth of her burrow. Is there a high chance of the eggs hatching outside, and is there any risks of high temperature related issues? Hypothetically, are the eggs safer if they are manually incubated? What is the best move forward… hypothetically speaking.
 

EppsDynasty

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Well it's strongly FORBIDDEN to touch the eggs. It is also illegal to breed Desert Tortoises. If you have no male then the eggs are infertile, if you have a male and knowingly let them breed that's illegal. The Desert Tortoise female will lay the eggs exactly where you said naturally about 4-6 inches below grade. As for your heat question, YES there will be issues with the heat. The eggs need to be around 85 degrees and from the sounds of it they will be getting way hotter than that. I tell you this out of experience, best thing to do is "Let Mother Nature take it's course and stop talking about it" ...Hypothetically Speaking
 

izwiz1010

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Well it's strongly FORBIDDEN to touch the eggs. It is also illegal to breed Desert Tortoises. If you have no male then the eggs are infertile, if you have a male and knowingly let them breed that's illegal. The Desert Tortoise female will lay the eggs exactly where you said naturally about 4-6 inches below grade. As for your heat question, YES there will be issues with the heat. The eggs need to be around 85 degrees and from the sounds of it they will be getting way hotter than that. I tell you this out of experience, best thing to do is "Let Mother Nature take it's course and stop talking about it" ...Hypothetically Speaking
We received Toto from a family which had males a great amount of months ago.

That’s what I figured the best course of action will be, thank you.
 

EppsDynasty

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Female Desert Tortoises can "Retain/Hold" sperm for up to 5 years after contact with a male. This will be something you should keep an eye on for the next few years shortly after waking from brumation.
 

Tom

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Well it's strongly FORBIDDEN to touch the eggs. It is also illegal to breed Desert Tortoises. If you have no male then the eggs are infertile, if you have a male and knowingly let them breed that's illegal. The Desert Tortoise female will lay the eggs exactly where you said naturally about 4-6 inches below grade. As for your heat question, YES there will be issues with the heat. The eggs need to be around 85 degrees and from the sounds of it they will be getting way hotter than that. I tell you this out of experience, best thing to do is "Let Mother Nature take it's course and stop talking about it" ...Hypothetically Speaking
The laws you are referring to are CA laws. I don't know if NV laws are the same.
 

izwiz1010

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The laws you are referring to are CA laws. I don't know if NV laws are the same.
I called the Tortoise Group which handles all legalities regarding domestic desert tortoises and their adoption, and apparently, according to the representative I spoke to, legally I could face no trouble for tampering with the eggs since they are my property and I’m the custodian of Toto. Ultimately, I was told that the choice was up to me — I was hoping that the eggs could be removed from my property and placed into the wild, but technically they’re already considered domesticated due to them being laid in captivity, so that’s a no-go. Ultimately, I’ve decided to just leave them alone. The rep that I spoke to said that I’d have to rehome them once they hatch, and that there is a surplus of pet tortoises in Nevada that struggle to be adopted, even more-so than cats and dogs. I feel that the most ethical thing to do would be to let nature take its course — I don’t want to have to deal with the anxiety of knowing whether or not the hatchling would be going to suitable, caring homes. I’ve seen just how common tortoise neglect is, and I wouldn’t want to subject any to that. It’s very sad, but I believe that I’m doing the right thing. If there was a possibility of the tortoise hatchlings being able to be reintroduced to the wild, I would’ve gladly taken that route, but unfortunately that’s not possible. If I had enough space, then I definitely would’ve considered, but ultimately it would be irresponsible of me to attempt to bring creatures into this world that I wouldn’t be able to wholeheartedly take care of, or find people to.
 
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Yvonne G

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You could always take a shovel and chop them up in the ground before they start to grow.
 

izwiz1010

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You could always take a shovel and chop them up in the ground before they start to grow.
Ugh, that sounds terrible… If I leave them, will the heat prevent them from properly developing, or is it likely that they’ll develop into hatchlings but then die from the heat? If the latter is the case, I’ll steel myself and do it. I don’t want them to suffer.
 

EppsDynasty

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Ugh, that sounds terrible… If I leave them, will the heat prevent them from properly developing, or is it likely that they’ll develop into hatchlings but then die from the heat? If the latter is the case, I’ll steel myself and do it. I don’t want them to suffer.
You may run into the eggs starting to develop then have to terminate baby torts, that's terrible.
 

Tom

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I called the Tortoise Group which handles all legalities regarding domestic desert tortoises and their adoption, and apparently, according to the representative I spoke to, legally I could face no trouble for tampering with the eggs since they are my property and I’m the custodian of Toto. Ultimately, I was told that the choice was up to me — I was hoping that the eggs could be removed from my property and placed into the wild, but technically they’re already considered domesticated due to them being laid in captivity, so that’s a no-go. Ultimately, I’ve decided to just leave them alone. The rep that I spoke to said that I’d have to rehome them once they hatch, and that there is a surplus of pet tortoises in Nevada that struggle to be adopted, even more-so than cats and dogs. I feel that the most ethical thing to do would be to let nature take its course — I don’t want to have to deal with the anxiety of knowing whether or not the hatchling would be going to suitable, caring homes. I’ve seen just how common tortoise neglect is, and I wouldn’t want to subject any to that. It’s very sad, but I believe that I’m doing the right thing. If there was a possibility of the tortoise hatchlings being able to be reintroduced to the wild, I would’ve gladly taken that route, but unfortunately that’s not possible. If I had enough space, then I definitely would’ve considered, but ultimately it would be irresponsible of me to attempt to bring creatures into this world that I wouldn’t be able to wholeheartedly take care of, or find people to.
Those type of tortoise groups are typically very anti-breeding, and then they tell you all the wrong info for how to start babies and take care of the tortoises. They learned the wrong info, as I did, 30 years ago, and they still haven't figured it out yet. We have the same nonsense here in the CTTC chapters. Don't let them dissuade you from taking care of these precious eggs and babies.

The eggs might hatch if left in the ground. The depth of the nest protects them from the surface heat, but still allows them to get warm enough to develop. I find the babies to be healthier, more hydrated and more vigorous when artificially hatched with an incubator.

Properly started, healthy babies are easy to place in good homes. Many of the people right here on this forum have placed many of them. Its easy. Some of the "rescue" type organizations have trouble finding homes because of all of their ridiculous requirements, fees, contracts and yard inspections. Some of them have a clause in the contract that says you can never breed them, and at any time if they don't like how you are caring for them, they can repossess the tortoise with no re-course. I'd never agree to those terms. That is absurd.

Conversely, people who don't have those stipulations have no trouble giving away baby DTs for free and helping teach the new owners how to care for them properly. Its not hard.

I can tell from the things you are saying that these people have read you the usual riot act with all the doom and gloom of how bad it is out there and we shouldn't be breeding new tortoises when so many of them are not properly cared for... Its complete BS. Are there tortoise in the world that are not cared for correctly? Yes. Of course there are. These people tend to only see the bad cases, they don't take very good care of their own tortoises, and the vast majority of people who take great care fo their tortoises, people that I know personally, never have any interaction with these rescue types. These patterns are not that easy to see for someone just starting out with tortoises. I hope my explanation makes things more clear. It sounds to me like you would like to take good care of these eggs and babies if they hatch, and it sounds like someone has talked you out of it. DTs die every day in the wild and in captivity for a variety of reasons. Missing the opportunity to create a few more seems a terrible shame to me. I've been breeding tortoises for a long time. Hundreds of them. My babies go to good homes. They bring joy and happiness to their owners, as their parents brought joy and happiness to me when I got them.

You didn't set out to breed DTs, but you've been given an opportunity none the less. An opportunity to bring a few more DTs in to the world where their numbers are quickly dwindling. If you don't want to hatch them, maybe you could find someone who does?
 

izwiz1010

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Those type of tortoise groups are typically very anti-breeding, and then they tell you all the wrong info for how to start babies and take care of the tortoises. They learned the wrong info, as I did, 30 years ago, and they still haven't figured it out yet. We have the same nonsense here in the CTTC chapters. Don't let them dissuade you from taking care of these precious eggs and babies.

The eggs might hatch if left in the ground. The depth of the nest protects them from the surface heat, but still allows them to get warm enough to develop. I find the babies to be healthier, more hydrated and more vigorous when artificially hatched with an incubator.

Properly started, healthy babies are easy to place in good homes. Many of the people right here on this forum have placed many of them. Its easy. Some of the "rescue" type organizations have trouble finding homes because of all of their ridiculous requirements, fees, contracts and yard inspections. Some of them have a clause in the contract that says you can never breed them, and at any time if they don't like how you are caring for them, they can repossess the tortoise with no re-course. I'd never agree to those terms. That is absurd.

Conversely, people who don't have those stipulations have no trouble giving away baby DTs for free and helping teach the new owners how to care for them properly. Its not hard.

I can tell from the things you are saying that these people have read you the usual riot act with all the doom and gloom of how bad it is out there and we shouldn't be breeding new tortoises when so many of them are not properly cared for... Its complete BS. Are there tortoise in the world that are not cared for correctly? Yes. Of course there are. These people tend to only see the bad cases, they don't take very good care of their own tortoises, and the vast majority of people who take great care fo their tortoises, people that I know personally, never have any interaction with these rescue types. These patterns are not that easy to see for someone just starting out with tortoises. I hope my explanation makes things more clear. It sounds to me like you would like to take good care of these eggs and babies if they hatch, and it sounds like someone has talked you out of it. DTs die every day in the wild and in captivity for a variety of reasons. Missing the opportunity to create a few more seems a terrible shame to me. I've been breeding tortoises for a long time. Hundreds of them. My babies go to good homes. They bring joy and happiness to their owners, as their parents brought joy and happiness to me when I got them.

You didn't set out to breed DTs, but you've been given an opportunity none the less. An opportunity to bring a few more DTs in to the world where their numbers are quickly dwindling. If you don't want to hatch them, maybe you could find someone who does?
The person I spoke to was actually extremely unbiased; I asked her for her opinion multiple times and what she would do in my situation, and each time she reinforced that the decision was wholly my own, so no riot case in my situation. Regardless, I do think these eggs are precious, so I’ll use this forum to attempt to either find someone local to take the eggs, or perhaps allow me to borrow an incubator.
 

EppsDynasty

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So I do know this ..... It is illegal to take a Desert tort out of Nevada. In order to do it you have to have a 2 state agreement and exportation permit. So you'll want to look for people in NV to take the babies.
 

izwiz1010

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So I do know this ..... It is illegal to take a Desert tort out of Nevada. In order to do it you have to have a 2 state agreement and exportation permit. So you'll want to look for people in NV to take the babies.
Oh yeah, definitely — I also wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of exporting the tortoises as well. So far, I’ve found a couple family friends who are interested, but I have nothing set in stone as of yet. Right now, I’ll focus with making sure the eggs, if they’re fertile, will produce healthy hatchlings.

How long is it recommended to keep take care of hatchlings until relinquishing them?
 

SinLA

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Welp, I am in the opposite camp from Tom on a lot of what he says.

If they eggs are newly laid, there is not a sentient creature inside that would feel pain if you prevented the eggs from hatching. The worst thing would be to allow them to develop to where they DO reach that stage and then have their development go south. That is far more cruel.

It sounds like they advised you legally can do what you want with the eggs, I do agree it sucks they can't be returned to wild to hatch (that seems dumb), but we'll support you however we can. It sounds like you are signing up for a big hassle if they do hatch, however...
 
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Tom

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How long is it recommended to keep take care of hatchlings until relinquishing them?
It really depends on where they are going. If they are going to a first time keeper that doesn't know the ropes, I'd wait until they reach 100 grams which should be around 3-4 months.

If they are going to someone who is experienced with hatching eggs and knows how to keep babies hydrated and properly cared for, they can go as soon as they hatch.
 

izwiz1010

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Welp, I am in the opposite camp from Tom on a lot of what he says.

If they eggs are newly laid, there is not a sentient creature inside that would feel pain if you prevented the eggs from hatching. The worst thing would be to allow them to develop to where they DO reach that stage and then have their development go south. That is far more cruel.

It sounds like they advised you legally can do what you want with the eggs, I do agree it sucks they can't be returned to wild to hatch (that seems dumb), but we'll support you however we can. It sounds like you are signing up for a big hassle if they do hatch, however...
That’s a very much appreciated perspective, thank you.
 

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