Need help with boxie egg incubation

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kimber_lee_314

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Not sure if I should put this under Box Turtles or Breeding - so please move if needed. Anyway, I usually let my box turtle eggs incubate in the ground. The problem I have with this is when they lay eggs early in the spring or late in the fall. The eggs get too cold and don't hatch. My Florida is laying eggs tonight, and I'd like to incubate them, but I have not had much success with this. I usually put them in either vermiculite or just some moist soil half buried. I keep a bowl of water in the incubator and cover the containers with a wet paper towel. What typically happens is the eggs start to dent (like they're too dry) so I mist them and then they split open (someone said this is caused by too much humidity.) Can anyone who successfully incubates BT eggs please tell me specifically what they do and what I'm doing wrong. Thank you!
 

turtlemann2

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do you have a humidity gauge? my incubator is regularly at 85-90% humidity and has not had any problems yet (knowck on wood) i did think i had an issue with to high of humidity and a split egg but it turns out the egg was just piping :), (walmart sells one in the thermomiter section for under 5$)ive read online or perhaps in one of my boxie books that one should never spray water directly onto the egg, im not sure of the resoning but i do recall the warning.
 

Katherine

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turtlemann2 said:
do you have a humidity gauge? my incubator is regularly at 85-90% humidity and has not had any problems yet (knowck on wood) i did think i had an issue with to high of humidity and a split egg but it turns out the egg was just piping :), (walmart sells one in the thermomiter section for under 5$)ive read online or perhaps in one of my boxie books that one should never spray water directly onto the egg, im not sure of the resoning but i do recall the warning.

I agree with the water on egg problem. The developing hatchlings use the eggshell as a surface for gas exchange and if an egg is submerged in water (or coated with a thin layer) it will interfere with and/or inhibit the necessary gas exchange. Your dented eggs were most likely from low humidity, I have had this happen to me before as well, by adding water to the substrate and then covering some of the holes on my 'incubator' I was able to increase the humidity and the eggs actually undented/resumed a close resemblance to their original shape. My favorite female BT nested today and I was debating digging her nest (I usually don't dig any of my BT nests because they're native here but last year fires ants and armadillos got all 3 of this particular females nests) anyways if I do dig it up tomorrow I will post a picture of my simple setup for comparisons sake.
 

Tccarolina

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Here is what I do. I use a plastic tub, a small submersible aquarium heater, a stick-on thermometer, little plastic sterylite food tubs, and vermiculate.
Put the aquarium heater on the bottom of the tub fill about half full of water. Let the cord just come out between the lid and the tub. Make sure you do not put any egg boats in until you know you have a stable temperature. You'll have to adjust the submersible thermometer every couple of hours until it arrives at the desired temperature. Also, make sure it is in a fairly stable location, not where sunlight ever hits it through a window, or anything. I keep mine in a corner behind a chair on the floor.

VERY IMPORTANT: Drill/poke a series of tiny holes high up under the lip of the egg tubs (NOT IN THE LID). Water will condense on the lids, so you don't want that to drain down inside. But you do need air exchange, so you must ventilate them. If you don't ventilate them with holes, the developing eggs can run out of oxygen, causing split scutes, or death.

I fill the tubs with about 3/4 inch of vermiculate and add a little water. You don't want any free water at the bottom, just well-wetted vermiculate.
Then I dig out the eggs, rinse them thoroughly in the sink under running water, put them in the tub, dent side up (so I can see it, and know whether it is undenting or not. I mark the top of the egg with a permanent marker dot. I put a piece of tape on the tub lid, labeled with the name of the female who laid the eggs, the number of eggs, and the date they were laid.

Then put the eggs into the big tub, letting them free float. Actually, my current setup uses a little rack so they rest in the water, and don't actually float.

I add a few drips to any egg that is still dented after the first day, and monitor them until all dents are gone. Then I try to check on each egg tub every week or twice a week. If I see dents, I add drops around THAT egg. If I see lots of condensation on eggs, I get a spare tub, add drier vermiculate and transfer the eggs and their lid to that tub.

In the past, all split eggs have occured in the last third of the incubation period, and always to eggs that had too much water. Now, I often transfer all eggs to drier vermiculate tubs as they are getting close to the end. I no longer have split eggs.

As hatching approaches for me, many eggs start to get dents. I add drops to these eggs and monitor them. If they continue to dent, they will hatch later or sometimes not at all, so this is important to monitor.

Here are some pics of one of my incubators.
I generally incubate for female at 86 degrees farenheit (I only keep easterns, other subspecies might be different for proper sex ratios) and 76-78 for males.
At 86 degrees hatching occurs in 51-53 days.
Using these methods, I have hatched a total of 96 baby box turtles in the last three years.

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LittleTurtles

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Where do you get the vermiculite?
and can you show a picture of exactly where you poke the hole?
Im kinda confused on where....
 

Tccarolina

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Get the vermiculite from a plant nursery.

Look at the picture of the egg tub up close. You'll see a series of small holes drilled just below the lip of the tub. In addition to these small ones, I make a bigger hole in the same location on each end.
 

LittleTurtles

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Oh... well, now I see them, lol, I feel a bit blonde now.... what size container do you use and whats the wattage for the heater?
 

turtlemann2

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the aquarium heater i use is a 100watt adjustable and simple deli containers are similer to that of his glad tubs, his little glad tubs look to be 4'' x 6'' judging by the relation to the size of the eggs :)
 

LittleTurtles

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Awesome... do you have a prefered brand? I keep Betta's and I've tried out a few heaters... the only ones so far that keep up a constant temperature AND are adjustable are the Elite.. and they get a bit pricey, lol
 

kimber_lee_314

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Thank you so much! This was really helpful - hopefully my incubator will be spilling over with hatchlings this year.
 

turtlemann2

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you can build a "ghettobator" for under 50 dollars from scratch. check out petco for some deals on aquarium heaters, you should be able to get one for about 20 dollars. search on google "ghettobator"
 
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