Three-Toed Single Gal Nesting Behavior?

AitchV

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Minneapolis, MN
Hi there, new poster here 👋🏽

I’ve been following this great forum for three years now, ever since my sister “Gwendolyn Hardback of The Three-Toed” came to me after my father died. She joined our family in 2002 and the seller thought she was about 6 years old at the time…so she’s likely around 25?

For most of her years she lived indoors in northern Wisconsin, with trips out in the summer yard but no freedom to turtle at length in an outdoor structure. Now she’s in Minnesota - tropical in the summer, frozen tundra from October through sometimes April.

Gwen has a 40 sq. ft. outdoor enclosure when it’s above 55F degrees, otherwise I bring her inside to a smaller tabletop replica. She has brumated in the cellar for approx 12 wks these past two seasons with me. Goes in a chunky 1#2oz and comes out at a hungry 1# sometime in May when I bring her upstairs.

Mom said her outside time with my Dad was not substantial, and she didn’t reliably brumate every year. There’s no doubt she’s getting more of her needs satisfied here with me.

This year she’s also gotten a soaking pool (instead of a big bowl “turtle treadmill”) and we do that every other day. Lately when she’s patrolling the yard (supervised) she’s been finding dry spots and digging with her back feet and swishing her backside as if to lay eggs! Is this normal behavior for a single gal?

I’m not exactly concerned, just more curious to hear what the experts have to say. I’ve had her for 2 summers now and she’s never done this. Can I satisfy this behavior for her in any way?

Looking to be the best guardian/sister I can be. Thank you!

Heather
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
832
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Welcome to the forum! I’m glad you finally decided to make your presence known lol. I’m sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I have zero experience with box turtles, so I can’t help answer your question, but I just had to say, Gwendolyn Hardback of The Three-Toed is SO CUTE!! And that name?! Come on! That’s the coolest name ever! That picture of her is priceless, with her little neck extended and looking like she’s smiling. She looks like a very well taken care of, happy and healthy girl! 🥰
 

ZenHerper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,672
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
Welcome! She's gorgeous. Cool landscaping.

It sounds like she's test-nesting. She may lay actual eggs, she may not. I'm guessing the brumation schedule has triggered her endocrine system.
 

AitchV

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Minneapolis, MN
Welcome to the forum! I’m glad you finally decided to make your presence known lol. I’m sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I have zero experience with box turtles, so I can’t help answer your question, but I just had to say, Gwendolyn Hardback of The Three-Toed is SO CUTE!! And that name?! Come on! That’s the coolest name ever! That picture of her is priceless, with her little neck extended and looking like she’s smiling. She looks like a very well taken care of, happy and healthy girl! 🥰
Wow, thank you for such a sweet welcome! She appears to be very happy, which is all I can hope for in doing what best I can for her.

Over the years periodically coming home to my parent’s house Gwen would always perk up to my voice and seem to want my attention, which of course I gave. Even though keeping a captive turtle was not something I anticipated, I’m glad we’re now together. I’m so relieved to hear you think she looks happy and healthy!
 

Attachments

  • F8DF1335-AD17-49B2-8D8D-F16478F24CB8.jpeg
    F8DF1335-AD17-49B2-8D8D-F16478F24CB8.jpeg
    551.1 KB · Views: 17

AitchV

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Minneapolis, MN
Welcome! She's gorgeous. Cool landscaping.

It sounds like she's test-nesting. She may lay actual eggs, she may not. I'm guessing the brumation schedule has triggered her endocrine system.
Thank you, she is a beauty! Do you really think she’s got eggs to lay? Are there any signs/behaviors I should be alarmed by?
 

ZenHerper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,672
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
Thank you, she is a beauty! Do you really think she’s got eggs to lay? Are there any signs/behaviors I should be alarmed by?
Sometimes they will lay unfertilized eggs, like chickens do. Not as common or certain, but sometimes.

Start weighing her daily...that is your best bet to detect a sudden bulking-up inside. lol Gravid females will also go off food if there are a lot of eggs taking up space in the abdomen.

Three-Toeds live in more open environments, so they do spend more time in burrows than Easterns, I think. She may just be digging for fun, but if the behavior is new, it bears observing.

Be sure that her diet is calcium-appropriate (the rule of thumb is twice as much calcium as phosphorous). The average chicken egg shell contains 800-1000 mg of calcium...a quarter of a boiled chicken egg with the shell on makes a nice supplement/treat weekly. For small turtles, I like to roll the egg on a countertop to pre-crush the shell before cutting. If she's craving calcium, she will accept a second or third serving (so a quarter piece every 2-3 days).
 

AitchV

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Minneapolis, MN
Sometimes they will lay unfertilized eggs, like chickens do. Not as common or certain, but sometimes.

Start weighing her daily...that is your best bet to detect a sudden bulking-up inside. lol Gravid females will also go off food if there are a lot of eggs taking up space in the abdomen.

Three-Toeds live in more open environments, so they do spend more time in burrows than Easterns, I think. She may just be digging for fun, but if the behavior is new, it bears observing.

Be sure that her diet is calcium-appropriate (the rule of thumb is twice as much calcium as phosphorous). The average chicken egg shell contains 800-1000 mg of calcium...a quarter of a boiled chicken egg with the shell on makes a nice supplement/treat weekly. For small turtles, I like to roll the egg on a countertop to pre-crush the shell before cutting. If she's craving calcium, she will accept a second or third serving (so a quarter piece every 2-3 days).
This is such great advice, thank you! I will definitely keep an eye on her weight and offer her the egg. She does keep a cuttlebone in her “bedroom” so that stays relatively dry and she does use it 😌
 

AitchV

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Minneapolis, MN
This is such great advice, thank you! I will definitely keep an eye on her weight and offer her the egg. She does keep a cuttlebone in her “bedroom” so that stays relatively dry and she does use it

👋🏽 from Minnesota!

It’s been a couple weeks so I want to give you an update. Gwendolyn has not laid any eggs (that I can find) and she really likes to eat chicken egg!

I’ve been weighing her as suggested and she hasn’t moved more than a few grams up or down, still her good summer weight. My mom visited last week and I told her all about the nesting and Forum responses, and she got to see her youngest daughter in action! We watched her digging for over an hour, seems like she’s just having fun 💚
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top