Is it normal for my sulcata to lay eggs in the cold?

Donna Albu

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So far, Andi, my female sulcata, has attempted to lay two clutches of eggs when the weather was in the low 60's in the afternoon and on it's way to the mid 40's for the night. The first clutch she managed to lay, but then she did not get out of the hole, nor bury them. Andi got picked up that night and put into her house with the heater. But, she cried for over an hour I think she knew I was going to destroy her eggs, and she made me feel really bad. The second attempt, she dug the hole, and stayed there for a few hours. Once again she got carried back to her house, and put inside. The hole was empty. I found the next morning that she had laid her eggs in the house, and they were all broken the next morning after she came back out.

This is not the first year that she's laid eggs. In the past, she has laid them in the early spring when it is 80+ during the day; most days it would get into the 90's by that time of year.

My question is, why is she laying when it is too cold for her to be able to move?
 

Yvonne G

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Tortoises that come from geographical areas differing from the location where they now live are still hard wired to their original land's rhythms.

When my leopards and radiatas begin a nest in cold weather I position a heat source over her to keep her warm throughout the process.
 

wellington

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She wasn't crying because she thought you might destroy her eggs. They don't have those kinds of feelings. You are putting human logic/concern/emotion on a tortoise that is not capable of those things. Also a tortoise lays eggs and never sees them again.
Like Yvonne said, rig a heat source to keep her warm while she lays. You don't want to risk her getting egg bound because you keep interrupting her.
That's why I gave up my female leopards. They always laid in the cold fall and always late in the evening. Plus I had little luck hatching them.
 

Tom

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So far, Andi, my female sulcata, has attempted to lay two clutches of eggs when the weather was in the low 60's in the afternoon and on it's way to the mid 40's for the night. The first clutch she managed to lay, but then she did not get out of the hole, nor bury them. Andi got picked up that night and put into her house with the heater. But, she cried for over an hour I think she knew I was going to destroy her eggs, and she made me feel really bad. The second attempt, she dug the hole, and stayed there for a few hours. Once again she got carried back to her house, and put inside. The hole was empty. I found the next morning that she had laid her eggs in the house, and they were all broken the next morning after she came back out.

This is not the first year that she's laid eggs. In the past, she has laid them in the early spring when it is 80+ during the day; most days it would get into the 90's by that time of year.

My question is, why is she laying when it is too cold for her to be able to move?
I agree with Yvonne and Barb.

Sulcatas lay from December to May. When they start digging on a cool day, or in the evening when a cold night is coming, you need to figure out how to warm the tortoise so it can finish. It is literally life threatening to interrupt a tortoise in the process of laying eggs. Egg binding is likely. You are very lucky she dropped the eggs in the box over night. She might have died if she hadn't done that, and most of them won't do that.

I have ladder that I use for this purpose. I pit it over the tortoise, and then hang a 250 watt CHE from it at the correct height for whatever the temperature is. This keeps them warm enough to finish the job, but be careful it doesn't get too hot or not warm enough.

I don't want to insult you, but tortoises don't get sad and cry, and your tortoise does not have the ability to know what you are going to do with her eggs, nor does she care what you do to them. There is no parental care for almost all tortoise species after laying eggs. Manouria do guard the nest area for a time, but even they eventually walk away. I'm only saying something because anthropomorphism, can be detrimental to our animals, and I don't want harm to come to your tortoise because of misguided emotions.
 

Donna Albu

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5 Year Member
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May 15, 2014
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Location (City and/or State)
Peoria, Maricopa County, AZ
Tortoises that come from geographical areas differing from the location where they now live are still hard wired to their original land's rhythms.

When my leopards and radiatas begin a nest in cold weather I position a heat source over her to keep her warm throughout the process.
Thanks! I thought she was going nuts!
 
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