Shock of my life

Tom

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If the ground is too dry in my enclosure (compared to the wet season in the wild), could they have sat underground for 3 or 4 weeks waiting for rain and when it didn’t turn up they were forced to raise to the surface.

This is another of those mysteries than no one has a real answer for, but plenty of guessing and speculation. Tomas from Senegal told me the the baby sulcatas hatch underground and stay there until the first rains come. I don't have any idea how it works for RFs, but the same strategy seems like it might have some survival advantages for them too. I wish I knew more.

I'll be intentionally hatching some SA leopard babies out of the ground about 13-14 months from now, and I'm pretty sure I missed two sulcata nest this year that should be hatching within the next month, so maybe we will gain some insight from that.
 
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TammyJ

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I had RES turtles nesting in my garden years ago and did not know where the nests were, and more than once, the babies emerged during or just after a heavy rain. But that's turtles, not tortoises. Also I wonder if they actually hatch underground and then wait for the rain to soften the earth, or just not hatch out until the rain comes as a sign for them to hatch.
 

Anyfoot

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I had RES turtles nesting in my garden years ago and did not know where the nests were, and more than once, the babies emerged during or just after a heavy rain. But that's turtles, not tortoises. Also I wonder if they actually hatch underground and then wait for the rain to soften the earth, or just not hatch out until the rain comes as a sign for them to hatch.
It’s never bone dry in my enclosure. I literally spray everywhere with the hose pipe from time to time. But I don’t spray enough for it to drench 8” deep where the nests are. The babies I found looked very dry(dusty with topsoil).
 

Anyfoot

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Just found another one laid at the side of an adult on the upper tier . This one has definitely only just risen within the last 4 hrs or so. Weighing 25g again. Fully opened with some slight growth and eggsack absorbed. Very thirsty.

It’s safe to say these are at absolute minimum 1wk old. Probably more like 2 wks old.

I wonder if they absorb the eggsack whilst digging to the surface, or absorb it then dig to the surface. You would think that the eggsack could be pierced quite easily, so absorbing the sack prior to digging to the surface would make more sense.

Quite a feisty one. Fighting me when I picked it up.

EC2F20BD-8C2D-44FD-8165-0592B94BC765.jpeg D1F6FC8A-D6A5-4B24-A86D-E2099C5D88B3.jpeg EB6EBF70-FBAA-417F-A277-6A3BA92D1F1C.jpeg 353CFEAF-3DC6-46F1-A77E-F8E3E94EEF9A.jpeg F2389561-E693-4F56-B83E-FD85DB986CC2.jpeg 9C665156-AA2B-41ED-A9D0-A977B07E7B7A.jpeg
 

Cathie G

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I’ve had the biggest shock of my life tonight.

Just been into the tortoise house to do my usual check on them all before lights go out, and found 5 babies that have hatched out of the ground. All 5 have fully absorbed their egg sacks. They all weighed 25g each and look yo have a bit of growth already.
When I’ve incubated them they are usually 19 to 22g, I know for a fact 3 of them can’t have eaten anything because they were on the upper tier. Bigger weights maybe just a fluke, I don’t know.
My enclosure is 21ft x 14ft ish. With an upper tier at about 5ft high above the caves with a ramp coming down to the lower level. I found 3 on the upper tier and 2 on the ground level at the complete opposite end of the enclosure. The adults always nest on the upper tier, So 2 of them have traveled all the way down the ramp and 20ft away from the other 3.
I can’t find where they came up out of the ground.
I’ve soaked them for about 40mins. Drank a lot, they were literally holding their heads under water for 5 minute intervals drinking.

It’s late here and my lights are due to go off. So in a mad panic I’ve found a box put some coir in with moss and a bit of dandelion.
I’ll sort something bigger out tomorrow.

Yesterday I reluctantly let 4 of my babies go to a new home, I good home where I know they will be cared for correctly. Dawn has being nagging at me constantly about finding homes for a while now. We have too many babies. Sod’s law we got 5 more today :D
A few photos below.

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Congratulations
 

DesertGirl

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I’ve had the biggest shock of my life tonight.

Just been into the tortoise house to do my usual check on them all before lights go out, and found 5 babies that have hatched out of the ground. All 5 have fully absorbed their egg sacks. They all weighed 25g each and look yo have a bit of growth already.
When I’ve incubated them they are usually 19 to 22g, I know for a fact 3 of them can’t have eaten anything because they were on the upper tier. Bigger weights maybe just a fluke, I don’t know.
My enclosure is 21ft x 14ft ish. With an upper tier at about 5ft high above the caves with a ramp coming down to the lower level. I found 3 on the upper tier and 2 on the ground level at the complete opposite end of the enclosure. The adults always nest on the upper tier, So 2 of them have traveled all the way down the ramp and 20ft away from the other 3.
I can’t find where they came up out of the ground.
I’ve soaked them for about 40mins. Drank a lot, they were literally holding their heads under water for 5 minute intervals drinking.

It’s late here and my lights are due to go off. So in a mad panic I’ve found a box put some coir in with moss and a bit of dandelion.
I’ll sort something bigger out tomorrow.

Yesterday I reluctantly let 4 of my babies go to a new home, I good home where I know they will be cared for correctly. Dawn has being nagging at me constantly about finding homes for a while now. We have too many babies. Sod’s law we got 5 more today :D
A few photos below.

View attachment 249712 View attachment 249713 View attachment 249714 View attachment 249715 View attachment 249716 View attachment 249717 View attachment 249718 View attachment 249719 View attachment 249720 View attachment 249721 View attachment 249722 View attachment 249723 View attachment 249724
What a wonderful surprise!
 

DesertGirl

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Just found another one laid at the side of an adult on the upper tier . This one has definitely only just risen within the last 4 hrs or so. Weighing 25g again. Fully opened with some slight growth and eggsack absorbed. Very thirsty.

It’s safe to say these are at absolute minimum 1wk old. Probably more like 2 wks old.

I wonder if they absorb the eggsack whilst digging to the surface, or absorb it then dig to the surface. You would think that the eggsack could be pierced quite easily, so absorbing the sack prior to digging to the surface would make more sense.

Quite a feisty one. Fighting me when I picked it up.

View attachment 250410 View attachment 250411 View attachment 250412 View attachment 250413 View attachment 250414 View attachment 250415
Look at those beautiful patterns on that one’s head!
 

Anyfoot

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What is causing the crevice on ones so little?
Not sure. Need to see how they develop.

I’m wondering if they have been up on the surface for a wk or so and they have had no water whilst they grew.
The last one has no crevices and I got that the day it came to the surface.
 

DesertGirl

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Ii
Not sure. Need to see how they develop.

I’m wondering if they have been up on the surface for a wk or so and they have had no water whilst they grew.
The last one has no crevices and I got that the day it came to the surface.
I thought dryness was a factor but on ones so tiny, they’re hardly had time to “get it wrong”
 

Anyfoot

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Ii

I thought dryness was a factor but on ones so tiny, they’re hardly had time to “get it wrong”
Who knows.
The first five had crevices and caked in bone dry soil(dusty). The sixth one has no crevices and was caked in moist soil.
So that means my soil is moist and the five were up long enough to dry out. If (and its a big if at the moment) those crevices are already the start of pyramiding it proves that all baby redfoot torts hatch out to a very moist climate.
My soil is moist but my 80/85% humidity is not wet enough if that’s the case.
 

C. Nelson

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Just found another one laid at the side of an adult on the upper tier . This one has definitely only just risen within the last 4 hrs or so. Weighing 25g again. Fully opened with some slight growth and eggsack absorbed. Very thirsty.

It’s safe to say these are at absolute minimum 1wk old. Probably more like 2 wks old.

I wonder if they absorb the eggsack whilst digging to the surface, or absorb it then dig to the surface. You would think that the eggsack could be pierced quite easily, so absorbing the sack prior to digging to the surface would make more sense.

Quite a feisty one. Fighting me when I picked it up.

View attachment 250410 View attachment 250411 View attachment 250412 View attachment 250413 View attachment 250414 View attachment 250415


They are adorable!! Love the patterns and their tenacity.
 

Anyfoot

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Here is a photo of all 7 together. Just gave them a soak.
You can see there growth differences clearly in this photo even at this very young stage.
The one in top right I found within hours of surfacing. This one still had moist soil on the carapace.
The one in the bottom right I found with dry soil on it, I reckon at most a day after surfacing, very slight crevice.
The other 5 were found with dry soil on the carapace, don’t know how long they had been out. 3 of these definitely hadn’t eaten anything when I found them. (The only chance they could have eaten anything was if they found some adult poop to feast on). I don’t think any had eaten because they all weighed the same.
So if the 5 that are showing crevices now are showing miner signs of stacking at such a young age then their growth has come from the eggsack being absorbed only and growing in 80/85% humidity is not good enough. They had no foliage to hide in in my tort house. Purely humid air surrounding the carapace, there are no heat sources near where the babies were found so no artificial drying of the carapace
This could prove that they must hide in very wet foliage or hatch in torrential rain in the wild.

I’ve ordered a 3x6ft vivarium so I can raise these in a very tightly controlled environment for as long as possible. Soaking daily. It would be interesting if only the 5 showed stacking as they grow.
18C7D32D-CA8B-4874-926D-F7CCF52CDDC0.jpeg
 

T Smart

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Would love to see pictures of your enclosure. It must be huge to hide these little guys!
 

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