A lot has been happening around here lately. Just a few days ago, Tinkerbelle our African Sulcata Tortoise’s eggs began hatching! She laid 18 of them in mid October and to our astonishment they hatched in less than five months!
We pulled the eggs from her nest due to Idaho’s harsh winters and put all 18 in a plastic container filled with vermiculite. We misted the container once a week and allowed fresh air to seep in. On February 12, 2010 we saw the first signs of hatching!
The babies can take up to 24-72 hours to hatch. They use their egg tooth to break through the leathery shell. The first one to hatch was properly named “Henry.”
Some babies still have their yolk sac attached. The vital sac is where the babies receive their food and nutrients. It generally absorbs in 2-3 days and the young tortoises will then begin feeding.
They eat a diet of finely chopped grasses and dark leafy greens like collards and kale. We then sprinkle vitamins and minerals over the top to insure the little ones get proper growth and development.
Lastly, they are all marked individually by a single colored dot. This enables us to keep track of each tortoise. Unfortunately at this age you cannot tell whether they are male or female. I guess we will have to wait several years before we can decide “who’s who.”
For more up-to-date information about our new babies follow us at www.twitter.com/corbinmaxey
A special thanks goes out to Melissa Kaplan’s article on “Sulcata Tortoises” http://www.anapsid.org/sulcata.html