When do sulcatas start producing eggs?

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theelectraco

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Just curious as to what size a sulcata needs to be to start laying eggs. Today I was helping out a customer who had gotten two hatchlings, and I was telling her how she will probably need to separate them in the future and she replied that she was going to breed them. I think the breeder she got them from told her they were boy girl, but 6 weeks old is too small to sex if I am correct. I helped her as best I could and recommended her come to the forum when she has more questions...but was curious as to how big a sulcata needs to actually be to start laying eggs?
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And the breeder recommended vermiculite as substrate? I told her to try coco coir. Is vermiculite even safe to use as a substrate?
 

Arizona Sulcata

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They can start laying at 14" but its usually bigger. And no you cannot tell the sex of a tortoise that young.

No vermiculite is a horrible substrate. Use coco coir. If and when they eat the vermiculite it can back them up and kill them.
 

qixer01

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I have a female Sulcata that is 13" and is laying eggs.
 

theelectraco

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Arizona Sulcata said:
They can start laying at 14" but its usually bigger. And no you cannot tell the sex of a tortoise that young.

No vermiculite is a horrible substrate. Use coco coir. If and when they eat the vermiculite it can back them up and kill them.
I don't think the breeder was very knowledgable. I recommend her switching substrates so hopefully she does. Hopefully she comes on the forum or back into the store so I can help her out again.
 

Tom

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Most of the time sulcata females will not start laying viable eggs until they are around 17". As noted above there are occasional exceptions. I've been noticing a trend with only occasional exceptions. Usually the ones that start laying at a smaller size are ones from areas with frozen winters that are kept indoors in warm enclosures for months at a time. The ones from warmer climates that live outside year round and experience seasonal temperature changes and daylight cycles, seem to need to be bigger before they start laying. I've had females wait until 18-19" before their first clutch. A friend in MI had one laying at 15". Austin, what say you? Have you noticed this?

When the breeder suggested vermiculite, are we sure it wasn't as an incubation media and not a substrate for young tortoises. With all the talk of breeding, seems like it might have been a misunderstanding somewhere.

Babies CAN be temp sexed and thanks to Richard Fife and the study he funded and provided eggs for, we KNOW the exact temps for making males or females. However due to fluctuations in incubator temps, malfunctions, weather variation, low quality thermometers, low quality incubators, human error, etc... No one can reasonably guarantee the sex of a hatchling.

I hope your customer understands that there is much more to it than buying two hatchlings and raising them up. Pairs are usually problematic in this species. NOT a good idea to raise two sulcatas together. Groups usually do fine. Singles are great. Pairs usually result in at least one of them suffering. As they near maturity, it will get worse. Two males will likely try to kill each other, like mine did, and in a male/ female pair the male will mature much earlier than the female and will likely harass her relentlessly, which could eventually lead to her death.
 

theelectraco

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Tom said:
Most of the time sulcata females will not start laying viable eggs until they are around 17". As noted above there are occasional exceptions. I've been noticing a trend with only occasional exceptions. Usually the ones that start laying at a smaller size are ones from areas with frozen winters that are kept indoors in warm enclosures for months at a time. The ones from warmer climates that live outside year round and experience seasonal temperature changes and daylight cycles, seem to need to be bigger before they start laying. I've had females wait until 18-19" before their first clutch. A friend in MI had one laying at 15". Austin, what say you? Have you noticed this?

When the breeder suggested vermiculite, are we sure it wasn't as an incubation media and not a substrate for young tortoises. With all the talk of breeding, seems like it might have been a misunderstanding somewhere.

Babies CAN be temp sexed and thanks to Richard Fife and the study he funded and provided eggs for, we KNOW the exact temps for making males or females. However due to fluctuations in incubator temps, malfunctions, weather variation, low quality thermometers, low quality incubators, human error, etc... No one can reasonably guarantee the sex of a hatchling.

I hope your customer understands that there is much more to it than buying two hatchlings and raising them up. Pairs are usually problematic in this species. NOT a good idea to raise two sulcatas together. Groups usually do fine. Singles are great. Pairs usually result in at least one of them suffering. As they near maturity, it will get worse. Two males will likely try to kill each other, like mine did, and in a male/ female pair the male will mature much earlier than the female and will likely harass her relentlessly, which could eventually lead to her death.
Vermiculite was recommended because it ". Cut down on the odor of the tortoises" I explained they don't really have a smell, and to do daily soaks and they will poop in their soaks and their cage should never smell. If I see her again, I will tell her how one will fail to thrive if kept in pairs. I mentioned the forum. A few times and I really hope she comes so she can hear my advise echoed by more members. I could tell she was hesitant to apply my information that contradicted the breeders, so I told her to come join the forum and she will get all her questions answered. I discouraged her from buying a tank and to have have her husband build a tortoise table since she mentioned he was on construction.
 

diamondbp

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One of my females starting laying at 14.5 inches, the other started at 18 inches, and they are clutch sisters. So it just depends on the individual. I would say it rarely goes under 14" for being able to lay. My 18 inch female laid her first clutch this year, and then laid again 29 days later. Total of 28 eggs. Good luck
 

Arizona Sulcata

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Ya Tom I'd definitely agree with you about the ones living year round outside needing to be bigger. My largest female (20+ inches but I'll have to get back to you on an accurate measurement) just laid her first clutch last year. Granted she is one of my best layers now and lays every 30 days pretty consistently unless the weather gets crazy.

I can't attest to the ones living indoors part time though because all my adults are outside 24/7. With that being said I've never had one produce below 18". Not saying it can't happen because I know it does. Just saying Tom's assumption is probably correct. Go figure... Haha :)
 
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