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Hatching SA Leopard Eggs

Yvonne G

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This is going to be a thread for ALL members who want to share their information about hatching SA leopard tortoise eggs. Please feel free to share.

I have two SA leopard nests in the ground at this time, with the female digging test nests, looking for that exactly right spot to dig her third nest. The nests are 5/9/19 and 6/6/19.

My tortoise partner will be coming soon to visit and while he's here I'll ask him to fashion some sort of protection over the nests to keep other tortoises from digging there, and to contain any babies, should any of the eggs hatch.

My plan, after talking to our member Tom, is to leave the nests in the ground. I'll keep this thread updated.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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MVIMG_20190728_101647.jpg
This is a 5 gallon bucket with the bottom cut off and then, in the top rim down position, held in place with three stakes. The brick may or may not help. The eggs are inside where the bucket is.

The female can't dig up the older nest for a new one, If/when babies hatch and get to the surface, they will be contained.

Yeah, this is at Yvonne G's place.
 

Yvonne G

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There are two nests next to each other, and in a spot that never gets watered. Should I sprinkle water over them occasionally?
 

Tom

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Randy didn't water the area until he thought hatching was imminent. That's what I intend to do too. Around the end of September, I'll start running the sprinklers in the nesting area every other day or so.

Around mid September I intend to remove the baskets from all the nests. I don't want to contain the babies as they hatch because if they hatch at noon while I'm at lunch and didn't notice, they will cook in a matter of minutes. I've got shady areas for them to retreat to as they hatch since I can't stand there all day and look for them.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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The nests were dug in May and June of this year 2019. Moist soil in Sep is 3 or 4 months later, 90 and 120 days. Just how is this in the ground for such a short time emulating a natural diapause?

Wouldn't they need the chill of fall and winter, and complete or start actual development next year, with late spring emergence? That would seem to emulate a natural diapause.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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@Tom
The nests were dug in May and June of this year 2019. Moist soil in Sep is 3 or 4 months later, 90 and 120 days. Just how is this in the ground for such a short time emulating a natural diapause?

Wouldn't they need the chill of fall and winter, and complete or start actual development next year, with late spring emergence? That would seem to emulate a natural diapause.
 

Tom

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The nests were dug in May and June of this year 2019. Moist soil in Sep is 3 or 4 months later, 90 and 120 days. Just how is this in the ground for such a short time emulating a natural diapause?

Wouldn't they need the chill of fall and winter, and complete or start actual development next year, with late spring emergence? That would seem to emulate a natural diapause.
Eggs laid in May/June 2019 will hatch late September or early October of 2020, if weather conditions are "normal". In the event of a cool summer, they hatch as late as November. 12-18 months in the ground.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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Eggs laid in May/June 2019 will hatch late September or early October of 2020, if weather conditions are "normal". In the event of a cool summer, they hatch as late as November. 12-18 months in the ground.
Thank you for the clarification @Tom that better fits my understanding of the rigors of the effort. @Yvonne G , get that, nnnnnnext year!
 

Tom

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Thank you for the clarification @Tom that better fits my understanding of the rigors of the effort. @Yvonne G , get that, nnnnnnext year!
Of course! Happy to share. :)

Its this long time frame that drives people to try and find "shortcuts" by doing it artificially. My friends that live nearby and also have stock directly from Randy do some artificial incubation and have a better hatch rate than I do, but I can't seem to duplicate their results using their methods. I've tried varying the "recipe" by going a little colder, or a little longer, and still dismal results for me. I've tried cooling, warming up, and re-cooling (to simulate eggs laid before summer going through a summer and then winter) and still nothing. I know that the males and females are fertile because a small number have hatched every year, but the percentage is very low.

A nest that I missed stayed in the ground and seven out of eight of those eggs hatched and came to the surface without me even knowing they were there. One of the females had laid those eggs the previous year without me knowing they were there. A second nest that I didn't know was there was dug up by another nesting female in late August. The babies were clearly all developing normally, but were killed when they were dug up pre-maturely. This is why I started using the metal baskets to cover each nest. They lay so many nests and seem to prefer the same areas.

I've got about 12-18 nests in the ground right now in an area that is blocked off from the females. They laid these eggs last year and we should see babies at the end of summer. Late September or early October. I've also got data loggers in the ground here in actual nest holes dug by the females. Whatever sort of hatch rates I get, we'll also have the ground temps at nest level for the year that those eggs have been in the ground.
 

Yvonne G

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I now have two nests in the same area, with a third abandoned because there was a heavy root inside she couldn't dig past. Now she's off digging in other areas. Hope I can find them.
 

Yvonne G

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I just read the later post that said you found some in a nest from the previous year. That is interesting they can survive that long.
The SA leopard eggs require diapause in order to start growing then hatch. So they need to go through the cold winter before they start growing in the next spring.
 

Tom

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@Tom did you get the years mixed up? Is it supposed to take 3-4 months or 16-17 months?
I got the years correct. Whenever they lay the eggs, those eggs will just sit there and not develop until after they've gone through a winter and spring.

If they lay in October of 2019, those eggs will hatch in October of 2020. If they laid eggs in April of 2019, those eggs will also sit in the ground all those months and hatch in October 2020.
 

kingsley

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I think the data logger information from Toms will give us some valuable information, very interesting stuff!!
 

Gijoux

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I finally have Leopard Tortoise babies hatching!! I'm so excited. This clutch of 10 eggs has been in the incubator since April 17 when they were laid. This is Miss Piggy's 4th clutch and finally fertile. When I kept having no luck I performed an experiment where on May 18th, I took 5 eggs from this clutch and cooled them after they had been in the incubator for one month. I used @Tom's method and put these eggs back in the incubator on June 15th set at 86 degrees. All of the five I left in the incubator are looking good with one out and the second pipped open but not out of the shell yet. My concern is that of the 5 eggs I cooled and reinserted into the incubator, only one of those eggs has a baby in it, while the other 4 do not. The development of this one egg looks just like the other 5, which are now hatching. It will be very interesting to see what becomes of this one little fellow. He is on day 139 from his original incubation date, but day 88 from his re-insertion after cooling date.
 

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Turtle girl 98

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I finally have Leopard Tortoise babies hatching!! I'm so excited. This clutch of 10 eggs has been in the incubator since April 17 when they were laid. This is Miss Piggy's 4th clutch and finally fertile. When I kept having no luck I performed an experiment where on May 18th, I took 5 eggs from this clutch and cooled them after they had been in the incubator for one month. I used @Tom's method and put these eggs back in the incubator on June 15th set at 86 degrees. All of the five I left in the incubator are looking good with one out and the second pipped open but not out of the shell yet. My concern is that of the 5 eggs I cooled and reinserted into the incubator, only one of those eggs has a baby in it, while the other 4 do not. The development of this one egg looks just like the other 5, which are now hatching. It will be very interesting to see what becomes of this one little fellow. He is on day 139 from his original incubation date, but day 88 from his re-insertion after cooling date.
Congratulations on your new babies. I have boxie eggs in my incubator right now 80 days in and denting like crazy no idea what's going on.. good job they look very good
 

Kapidolo Farms

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I exchanged IM with Leopard's bible on Facebook. The instructions provided seem provocative and interesting.

Place the eggs in a frig at 40F for three to four weeks, then incubate. Inspect for development, repeat if no development is seen. Alternatively, let the eggs sit a room temp for about a year, then put in the incubator.

It could be multiple methods can work?
 

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