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Phantom nesting

Discussion in 'Tortoise Breeding' started by T0rts, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. T0rts

    T0rts New Member

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    My leopard tortoise has been laying eggs with no problem until recently.

    Normally she lays 4 clutches (sep-dec), between 9-14 eggs, like clockwork, every 4 weeks (almost to the day).

    This year, she's laid from July to Jan. Again like clockwork (but for some reason she started earlier this year & had far more clutches)... Same size clutches as previous years.

    She last laid Feb 4th 9 eggs. Then Feb 9th (after being aggitated/marching about since laying on 4th), she dug a nest (& covered it over) - very odd so soon after laying but I assumed maybe she had retained a couple of eggs from laying a few days before... But when I dug up the nest there were no eggs.
    She settled down for a day or two, then started pacing/becoming agitated again. She dug another phantom nest (covered over & no eggs again) yesterday 16th Feb.

    My theories are:
    1) she could be egg bound & maybe couldn't pass a large egg from the last time she laid
    2) could be left over hormones from a previous lay
    3) Or ovulating?? (My vet told me a few years ago that when they ovulate they sometimes become agitated?)
    4) she doesn't have an off switch & is turning into an egg laying machine... Surely this can't be good for her??
    5) coming to end of egg laying phase of her life & hormones/egg laying affected? No idea what age they lay eggs until? (She's only 17 but guess it could be any age they stop laying eggs?)

    Has anyone experienced this before? Which of my theories are relevant/most likely? Is there anything else that could cause this?

    I know the only way to be absolutely sure if there are eggs is via an x-ray but would love to hear from anyone who may have experienced this before & what could be happening with her!

    Thank-you :)
  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Their laying schedules can vary year to year. I've had them lay 8 clutches one year, and 3 or 4 the next. Depends on the weather and climate, even when they are housed indoors sometimes.

    Only an Xray can confirm or deny whether or not your tortoise is egg bound and retaining some eggs. It would be worth the peace of mind to me.
  3. T0rts

    T0rts New Member

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    Thanks so much for the reply & info Tom, much appreciated.

    Yes, I think I'll get her x-rayed for peace of mind (although she's back to her relaxed self today! ...so I'll monitor her closely over the next couple of days & if she starts pacing I'll get her booked in!) :)
  4. domalle

    domalle Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Female tortoises in nature are nearly always gravid in some degree and can hold eggs with no adverse effect for longer periods than commonly understood. The longstanding practice of administration of drugs to induce labor when a captive tortoise exhibits no signs of distress but simply fails to deliver expected eggs 'on time', i.e., on an artificially established timetable, is questionable.

    More troubling is the subjection of an otherwise healthy tortoise, out of fear or suspicion of possible egg binding, and without exhaustive investigation of alternatives, to the invasive and disfiguring trauma of ovariectomy to remove eggs and ovaries, thereby ending forever the animal's reproductive life and promise. Especially since the success of such procedures is by no means guaranteed.

    Female tortoises are very particular. They will seemingly take forever to select a time and spot to lay. They will pace to and fro, day after day, dig nest after nest in the most unlikely places, leave them empty, fill them up, leave them uncovered and cover them up, drop eggs on the surface and keep you up all night in the process til you are ready to bury yourself in a hole.

    But most of us find the endeavor exciting and worthwhile. And if we are really fortunate, the stars will align, conditions for the animal will be just right and they will happily perform to our expectations and schedules.

    And someday maybe I will get a fertile egg out of these redfoots.
    Best luck to you.
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