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Is my Hermann egg-bound?
Posted: 06/07/2015 by Elf-girl

I am concerned that my tortoise might be having problems laying her eggs. She is about 53 years old and lays eggs every year. I inherited her from a neighbour not long before she hibernated three years ago. The first time she came out of hibernation with me, she laid a couple of very small lumpy eggs almost immediately. Last year, she laid 5 beautiful eggs without any problems 13 weeks after she woke up. This year, although she woke upon the same day as last year, she still hasn't laid her eggs 18 weeks later! The last couple of weeks, she has tried to  lay on and off, but the last two days she has spent most of the afternoons trying with no success. I am not sure what her normal behaviour is. Does it sound like I should be worried? Is there anything I can do to help her? She is still eating ok and has passed milky waste when I  soaked her today.

Re: Is my Hermann egg-bound?
Posted: 06/07/2015 by Tom

Hello Elf,

What is she doing when "trying" to lay ?

What is her enclosure like ? & size ?

Have you created a laying area ?

"Milky ." = urates. Good.


Re: Is my Hermann egg-bound?
Posted: 07/07/2015 by Elf-girl

Hello Tom,

By 'trying' I mean she is straining and pushing, almost doing handstands at times, rubbing her tail on the ground and pushing up and down with her back legs. She has been extremely active the last couple of weeks charging around the garden and climbing over anything she can find. The garden is about 70x50feet with lawn and border, all left to grow naturally. There is clover in the lawn and dandelions in the borders, a strawberry patch to which she helps herself. We live on the seafront and I go daily to the clifftop to pick plantain, mallow and furry dandelion-type leaves. Can't think what they are called but I have checked them and they are safe. She loves them. She also likes cos lettuce, cucumber and peppers. She does seem to have been eating a lot of snails and slugs this year especially recently. I use no pesticides at all, nor fertilisers and I have removed all foxglove plants. There is ivy though. She has a little wooden house I made for her and she happily puts herself to bed every night except when she is getting ready to hibernate and buries herself in the garden. I have not created a laying area. Last year she laid her eggs in the grass without any problem, over two days. There are lots of private, hidden spots in the garden with soft soil under leaves. I regularly take her for a walk down our long driveway when she seems desperate to get under the side gate. She can't get under, of course but she will try . I also provide her with cuttle fish for calcium.



Re: Is my Hermann egg-bound?
Posted: 08/07/2015 by Tom

Thank you for the reply Sarah,

It sounds like a great place to live.

Your 1st sentence describes what tort's do after laying so as to camouflage the nest. Also they can be hyperactive for a week or so after laying, so it's poss. she has laid.

If a she still hasn't laid, she could deteriorate. The best way forward would be to discuss matters with a vet by phone & ask for an X-ray. Provided that the eggs appear well calcified, the vet could inject oxytocin & the eggs would be laid fairly shortly afterwards. It is best to leave her in a quiet place at the vet's to lay, rather than travelling straight home. If no eggs are apparent on the X-ray, then you can relax.

Shatter the cuttlefish bone into several pieces, as eating lots of snails can indicate the need for more calcium.

Nesting in the lawn make the process difficult. They prefer soil that has been dug & then firmed by walking on it. Perhaps during the winter, you could make a nesting enclosure with a low wooden fence, in which she could lay & you could observe discreetly. Put her in for short periods of about half an hour & remove her if stressed.

Let us know what happens,


Re: Is my Hermann egg-bound?
Posted: 11/07/2015 by Elf-girl

Hello Tom,

I took her to the vet who x-rayed her to reveal four beautiful eggs. Within an hour of being given an injection she had laid them in her box. The next day she was back to normal, eating well and just sunbathing quietly. However, today she has resumed the odd behaviour of pacing around restlessly, straining with her back legs stretched out and rubbing her tail end on the ground. It seems we had her induced for nothing. Could her behaviour be due to being constipated? Doesn't anyone recognise the behaviour? I shall resume bathing her daily tomorrow and leave her in until she passes something. I am at a loss. If she was seriously constipated or had an impaction, would it show up on the x-ray?

Many Thanks,


Re: Is my Hermann egg-bound?
Posted: 11/07/2015 by Tom

Have you looked carefully at the tail & around it Sarah ?

Block off a small area of the garden until you find faeces, that's the best way to find out.

It's not a waste of time inducing the eggs, given her age, it's quite late in the year to be laying, (or more's the point) not laying, which was the case.

Keep us informed,


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