Incubation and hatching of tortoise eggs in the UK can be an extremely critical time for the tortoise breeder. There are many considerations that the breeder needs to take into account when a reproductively active female is ready to lay her eggs if there is to be a successful outcome.
There may also be situations where a keeper has a female tortoise which is carrying eggs in the absence of a male tortoise, or where the keeper doesn’t recognise the signs of a gravid tortoise. Both are situations where the tortoise may become egg bound, a condition associated with high disease and mortality levels, if appropriate care is not provided.
Subject areas to be covered in this section include signs of a gravid tortoise, nesting behaviour and preparation of nesting sites through to egg laying, egg retention, egg development, incubation techniques and immediate care of the hatchling.
Unfortunately sometimes things can and do go wrong. Some of the more common problems encountered with tortoise breeding will be covered along with personal reports from breeders as to how they deal with a range of hatching emergencies.
Expert veterinary advice should always be sought when difficulties with egg laying are encountered. Failure to do so could possibly lead to the untimely death of the female tortoise and/or the hatchling.