Incubation Experiment

Tom

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Is this why this subspecies is fairly more expensive and less common? They are more difficult to hatch?
Supply and demand. Few people are breeding true South Africans. They are also different than regal leopards in many ways, and more desirable, in my opinion, because of the differences.

Yes, it is difficult to get them to hatch. Many theories and recipes I've tried, and the results have been poor. I've managed to hatch a few each year, but most eggs have not hatched. Working on many experiments and trying many different things with this years eggs. I'll let you know how it goes. With room temp times, and cooling times, and incubation, it takes 6-7 months to get them to hatch.
 

Gotro17

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Supply and demand. Few people are breeding true South Africans. They are also different than regal leopards in many ways, and more desirable, in my opinion, because of the differences.

Yes, it is difficult to get them to hatch. Many theories and recipes I've tried, and the results have been poor. I've managed to hatch a few each year, but most eggs have not hatched. Working on many experiments and trying many different things with this years eggs. I'll let you know how it goes. With room temp times, and cooling times, and incubation, it takes 6-7 months to get them to hatch.
Whatever happened here? Or did the thread continue under another?
 

Gotro17

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Darn! Good scientific effort though! We got a surprise clutch laid yesterday and I’m sure I’ve already messed them up. I couldn’t find the thread of yours Jeanette recommended.
 

Tom

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Darn! Good scientific effort though! We got a surprise clutch laid yesterday and I’m sure I’ve already messed them up. I couldn’t find the thread of yours Jeanette recommended.
This one?
 

Tom

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Sucks.
I had high hopes for your well thought out logic.
You and me both. These SA leopards have been very frustrating for me. 200 eggs a year and 10-20 hatchlings it all I can make happen. Meanwhile the platynota and Sudan sulcatas are getting nearly 100% hatch rates. Still trying to figure them out. Trying some new plans this year. I'm going to put some in a fridge and leave them there all winter.
 

Gotro17

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This one?
That was the only one I could find but she made it sound like there was one more in depth... Years ago this happened to us with bearded dragon eggs. We guessed by reading through PAPERBACKS- imagine that... READING! LOL Low and behold, we hatched most of them. So- erring on the side of setting the bar SUPER LOW, I made a tupperware container to your specs and actually put it in my baby enclosure I got from @Markw84. It was a little rocky yesterday with the temps but it settled today and is consistent around 89-90. I have no expectations for this clutch and very well might experiment with leaving the next one in the ground a month or so.... We'll see!
 

TheLastGreen

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@Tom, this seems to be the best method I have found from a breeder.
When the eggs are deposited into the hole by the female, immediately take them out of the hole. (Or you could catch the eggs with a glove, from behind)
Immediately place them in an egg carton or in a tupperware with vermucilite. Walk gently with them and place them in the incubator.
The incubator should be on 27-29C.
With a cup filled with water to keep the eggs and their surroundings humid.
Don't turn or touch them and leave them just the way you placed them in there.
Leave them for 90 days and the results should be stellar.
 

turtlesteve

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That sucks Tom. I was so certain that some form of modified or longer diapause was going to be the secret sauce too. Back to the drawing board I guess.
 

Tom

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@Tom, this seems to be the best method I have found from a breeder.
When the eggs are deposited into the hole by the female, immediately take them out of the hole. (Or you could catch the eggs with a glove, from behind)
Immediately place them in an egg carton or in a tupperware with vermucilite. Walk gently with them and place them in the incubator.
The incubator should be on 27-29C.
With a cup filled with water to keep the eggs and their surroundings humid.
Don't turn or touch them and leave them just the way you placed them in there.
Leave them for 90 days and the results should be stellar.
If only it were that easy...

SA species need a diapause before they will develop. Without this cooling period first, they won't begin incubation. I've tried just to see. When they do begin incubating, it takes about 110 days for any type of leopard tortoise to incubate. They go 12-18 months in the ground before hatching. No matter what time of year the eggs are deposited, they have to sit there and go through a full winter. Only after that will they begin incubating in the heat of the next summer. So an egg laid in May of 2020 will sit in the ground and finally begin developing in summer of 2021 and finally hatch in October of 2021.

The method you found is fine for sulcatas and several other species, but not SA leopards. Thank you for trying to help. That is much appreciated.
 

TheLastGreen

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Damn, I thought it was too easy, I mean, you know the trick to this trade, so this must be serious
Have you tried experimenting with keeping the soil dryer. Do you think the two types could have different incubation needs?
If babcoki is from the Western Cape, they would have a rather complicated incubation.
In the WC they have Winter rain, Mediteranian climate, so perhaps the hermans or Russian tortoise incubation will do.
But the problem is of course that it isn't quite Mediteranian, some areas have veld fires etc, so pinpointing an area is difficult.
The same with paradalis, its range is quite large but you can't really pinpoint it to one area.
Feels like both of their ranges are so big but nothing works...
From where are your torts or their ancestry, if I may ask @Tom ?
 

Yvonne G

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Damn, I thought it was too easy, I mean, you know the trick to this trade, so this must be serious
Have you tried experimenting with keeping the soil dryer. Do you think the two types could have different incubation needs?
If babcoki is from the Western Cape, they would have a rather complicated incubation.
In the WC they have Winter rain, Mediteranian climate, so perhaps the hermans or Russian tortoise incubation will do.
But the problem is of course that it isn't quite Mediteranian, some areas have veld fires etc, so pinpointing an area is difficult.
The same with paradalis, its range is quite large but you can't really pinpoint it to one area.
Feels like both of their ranges are so big but nothing works...
From where are your torts or their ancestry, if I may ask @Tom ?
Tom was talking about the South African leopards, not the babcocks.
 

Tom

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Damn, I thought it was too easy, I mean, you know the trick to this trade, so this must be serious
Have you tried experimenting with keeping the soil dryer. Do you think the two types could have different incubation needs?
If babcoki is from the Western Cape, they would have a rather complicated incubation.
In the WC they have Winter rain, Mediteranian climate, so perhaps the hermans or Russian tortoise incubation will do.
But the problem is of course that it isn't quite Mediteranian, some areas have veld fires etc, so pinpointing an area is difficult.
The same with paradalis, its range is quite large but you can't really pinpoint it to one area.
Feels like both of their ranges are so big but nothing works...
From where are your torts or their ancestry, if I may ask @Tom ?
I'm not positive, but I was told their originally imported ancestors came from somewhere near Durban.
 

TheLastGreen

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Oh... I had the ranges mixed up. Screenshot 20211111 181130 Facebook

Biomes of SA Screenshot 20211112 185918 Chrome
1d, 1e, 3a, 3b,
Biomes where they are present

Montane fynbos and renosterveld
Most of Montane Fynbos and Renosterveld ecoregion receives annual rainfall between 300 mm and 2,000 mm, although some sites in the southwest receive as much as 3,000 mm (Deacon et al. 1992). West of Cape Agulhas, rainfall is concentrated in the winter months, associated with cold fronts budding from the circumpolar westerly system. East of this zone (where the paradalis torts come from), rainfall distribution is less seasonal. Post-frontal events, chiefly the advection of moist air across a relatively warm Indian Ocean, produce rain throughout the year, largely in the spring and autumn. Temperature lows are more extreme than on the adjacent lowlands. Frost is widespread on upper peaks where snow may lie for several weeks in the winter months. High summer temperatures seldom exceed 25oC, except in the interior valleys.
The South Coastal Mountains extend from the Elgin Basin in the west, to near Port Elizabeth in the east, an unbroken chain of some 800 km. Principal mountain complexes and maximum altitudes, starting in the west, are as follows: Groenland (1,201 m), Riviersonderend (1,654 m), Klein River (964 m), Langeberg (1,710 m), Outeniqua (1,579 m), Tsitsikamma (1,675 m), Kouga (1,757 m), Groot Winterhoek (1,758 m), and Elandsberg (987 m). In the extreme west, most rain falls in the winter months, while elsewhere, rain falls year-round. Annual rainfall is mostly in the vicinity of 800 mm to 1,500 mm, although less than 400 mm has been recorded along the inland foothills, fringing the Little Karoo.
The Nama-Karoo, the Highveld Grassland, the Drakensberg Montane Grassland, Woodland and Forest, the KwaZulu-Cape Coastal Forest Mosiac, the Maputaland-Pondoland Bushland and Thicket, the Knysna-Amatole Montane Forest and the Montane Fynbos and Renosterveld all converge in the Eastern Cape. This mosaic of ecoregions provides a mix of taxa in the area, giving the Eastern Cape a very high level of species richness and diversity. The area, however, represents the distribution limits for most of these ecoregions, which have their centers elsewhere in South Africa.


Summary:
Rainfall: 300-2000mm. Rain is yearly, Spring and Autumn mostly
Temps: Frost form easily, most on peaks
Max: 25C

Succulent karoo
The distinctive climatic characteristics of the Succulent Karoo make it different from all other deserts in the world (Desmet and Cowling 1999a). Rainfall is reliable and predictable, falling mostly in winter, and prolonged droughts are rare. The mean lowest minimum temperature for the coldest month is above -40C, while the same temperature index for the Namib Desert is above 20C, and that for the Nama Karoo ranges from 00C to -90C (Rutherford 1997). The climate is mild compared to other arid areas, particularly in the Namaqualand-Namib Domain, where frosts are extremely rare. This domain receives annual rainfall ranging from 20 mm in the drier northwest to more than 400 mm in the escarpment zone, but the majority receives less than 150 mm. The winter rains are associated with cold fronts. Precipitation is supplemented by heavy dewfalls and fog. Fog is generated by the cold Benguela Current of the Atlantic Ocean, and tempers summer heat in coastal parts of this domain. Surprisingly, some of the hottest days, when temperatures up to 40oC are recorded, occur in winter as a result of hot "berg," or mountain winds.

Summary:
Rainfall: In Winter, droughts are rare. 20-400mm rain, but 150mm is the norm.
Temps:
Min: Above -40C
Max: Easily 40C



Albany thickets
The soils of these valleys are well-drained, deep, lime-rich, sandy loams derived from the Uitenhage and Ecca Group shales (Low and Rebelo 1996). Towards the coast, the soils may include consolidated dune sands, with the densest thickets occuring on the deepest sandy loams. It is thought that this may be one of the factors responsible for the confined distribution of the Albany Thicket (Cowling 1984). To the west of the Sundays River are rugged quartzite mountains typical of the Cape Folded Belt. The soils of the intermontane valleys are well-drained, colluvial sandy loams that are slightly shallower than the river valley soils.
The Fish, Sundays, and Gamtoos river valleys are harsh environments, with high diurnal and annual temperature ranges and low, sporadic rainfall (Cowling 1983). The inland areas of these valleys are arid with non-seasonal, sporadic rainfall from 300 to 450 mm per year. The three summer months (December to February) are the driest. Annual temperatures in these inland valleys are extreme, ranging from 0oC to more than 40oC. The coastal areas of the valleys have a more moderate climate with a temperature range from 10oC to 35oC and a slightly higher annual rainfall of 450 to 550 mm per year. Valley mists are common towards the coast, providing additional moisture. The intermontane valleys have moderate temperatures, although extremes may be experienced for short periods. These valleys fall within a rain shadow, resulting in a low annual rainfall of 250-300 mm per year (Low and Rebelo 1996).

Summary:
Soil: Well drained, deep, lime rich, sandy loam
Rainfall: Inland: Random 300-450mm
Coastal: 250-300mm
Temps: Inland: HOT 0- +40C
Coastal: 10-35C


Nama Karoo
The climate is typically harsh. Droughts are common, and both seasonal and daily temperatures fluctuate considerably. Temperature variations of 25°C between day and night are common (Venter et al. 1986). Mean maximum temperatures in mid-summer (January) exceed 30°C, whereas mean minimum mid-winter (July) temperatures are below freezing (Palmer and Hoffman 1997). Rainfall is highly seasonal, peaking between December and March (Palmer and Hoffman 1997). Annual rainfall ranges between 100 mm to 500 mm, decreasing from east to west and from north to south (Palmer and Hoffman 1997, Desmet and Cowling 1999). Variability in inter-annual rainfall tends to increase with increasing aridity (Schulze 1997).
Shallow, weakly developed lime-rich soils cover much of the region (Watkeys 1999)
Summary: Soil: Shallow, weakly developed lime rich soil. Rainfall: 100-500mm Temps: Harsh, can fluctuate around 25C Max: Over 30C Min: Below freezing
Nysna anatole montane forests
The soils of these forests are generally acidic and nutrient-poor (Van der Merwe 1998). Much of the Knysna forest occurs on gentle to moderate slopes, ranging from 5 m to 1,220 m above sea level (a.s.l.) with a mean of 240 m, while the forests of the Amatole Mountains are situated at higher altitudes, between 700 m and 1,250 m, with a mean of 1,000 m (Geldenhuys 1989).
Rain falls throughout the year in the region, with maxima in early and late summer (Geldenhuys 1989). Mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures in the Knysna are 23.8 °C in February (summer) and 18.2 °C in August (winter), and in the Amatole forests the maxima and minima are 19.7 °C in and 8.9 °C (Geldenhuys 1989). Annual rainfall varies between the sites as well, ranging from 525 mm to 1220 mm in the Knysna forest, and from 750 mm to 1500 mm in the Amatole forest (Geldenhuys 1989). Rainfall appears to be the primary environmentally limiting factor of forest extent, as forest is unable to persist in areas with rainfall of less than 500 mm (Rutherford and Westfall 1986, Geldenhuys 1989).
Summary: Soil: Acidic , nutrient poor Rainfall: Yearly, max in Summer. Temps: 18,2-23,8C (In the Amatole region, Max:23,8C Min:8,9C)
 

TheLastGreen

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It seems they are torts that survive in harsh to easy going climates.
Soil should either be acidic, lime rich and sandy.
Temps: Needs to be hot. I think what is important is the fluctuation of the female body heat and the cold ground. When the eggs have been layed, I would suggest keeping the eggs cool (like really cool, the ground should soak out any heat the eggs have) for around 12-14 hours after being layed and then heating them slowly up. Reaching around 34C at max.
Repeat the process afterwards
The cycle should be extreme, hot in day, cold in night.
Humidity: Should be kept rather low, I would suggest 50-70% humidity fluctuating a lot.
I think they need compact soil, it has been observed that large females will retract their legs over the covered hole and slam the dirt and compacting the soil. Perhaps the soil above the eggs should be around 10-15cm. I think the soil is important to help regulate temps directly with the egg
(Sorry for the long post, this was my findings, it was fun to research!)
 
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TheLastGreen

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Well @Tom , I have continued researching and I have found some more information.
The Addo Elephant National Park have the torts, here is the info
Screenshot 20211113 193151 Chrome Screenshot 20211113 193158 Chrome
Seeing as your torts came from Durban, I suspect they came from the Western Cape, so I think this might be a good bet, have you ever used these (harsh) parameters for incubation?
 

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