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FAQs About Turtle Reproduction, Young 1

Related Articles: My Turtle Laid Eggs. What do I do? by Darrel Barton, Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

FAQs on: Turtle Reproduction & Young, RES Reproduction & Young,
FAQs on: Young Turtle Identification, Young Turtle Behavior, Young Turtle Compatibility, Young Turtle Stocking/Selection, Young Turtle Systems, Young Turtle Feeding, Young Turtle Disease,
Related FAQs:  Turtles 1, Turtles 2, Red Ear Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle FeedingTurtle Disease, Shell Rot, & by Species: Cooters/Mud Turtles, Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, Tortoises, & AmphibiansOther Reptiles




Painted turtle breeding question     9/16/19
<Hello. Apologies for the delay in replying.>
I’ve read Darrel’s write-up re turtle hatching and have a question. I’ve installed a pond in my backyard and have 3 painted turtles (+koi and gf) in it. Because I’ve lost a few turtles over the winter (Michigan; my pond is over 4’ deep, lined, in ground), I’ve started taking them inside now.
<Good approach.>
What I wonder, and can’t find via searching the internet, is because they’re inside now and don’t brumate, does this change the ‘breeding’ season?
<Not directly. But most reptiles will use day length (often specifically UV-A) to calibrate their internal clocks. Indoors this isn't possible, so breeding tends to be a bit more variable.>
Or will they still likely mate March through June as they did in the wild?
<To some degree, yes, more or less. Day length will be the main triggering factor.>
I ask because I would probably NOT know if my female actually laid eggs in the indoor holding pool I’ve set up for them. Which means, come summer, they head out to the big pond and a lot more space and I’d have to keep the indoor pool going JUST IN CASE eggs were laid. I also worry if I’m not allowing brumation and the breeding season is askew, that any eggs laid outside in the summer might not have enough days for gestation.
<Understood. If you keep the turtles relatively cool and with the amount of light over their tank limited, it's unlikely they'll lay eggs. Once moved into a suitable enclosure with higher temperatures, more food, and longer day lengths, this should trigger egg-laying.>
Another question; I have limited area where I’ve set up my over-winter pool so can provide only modest ‘earthen’ area for possible egg-laying. Is there a minimum amount for the female to actually feel comfortable? Or will she simply lay the eggs in whatever space I’ve provided?
<It needs to be big enough she can move about and dig comfortably, but that's about it.>
I currently have something equal to about 2 sq feet, about 12” deep.
<Sounds fine.>
And a final question; is there a optimal setup to make the earthen area conducive for eggs to hatch? Basic ground temp? Percent humidity?
<The sand needs to be steadily warm, around 28 C, and the sand should be damp but not waterlogged. The idea mix probably includes a bit of perlite or compost to hold some moisture. But at the same time it needs to be airy enough the eggs don't suffocate. Beyond that, the main thing is the sand isn't disturbed -- moving the eggs usually kills the foetus.>
Since I also overwinter orchids and tropical pond plants in the same room, I think I’ve got that covered but if there’s something I’m missing, please let me know.
<Sounds good.>
Anyway, I liked the write-up and hope either Darrel or another expert there can help out.
Thank you.
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Re: painted turtle breeding question     9/16/19
Thanks, Neale; it does help. I was going to keep the lights on for 12 hours, do you suggest I lower that number?
<Yep. Treat as per winter wherever you live; but do ensure the UV-B light is on for sufficient time (at least 4 hours/day) for the turtles to get sufficient vitamin D.>
(it was mainly for the tropicals I’m overwintering with the turtles.)
<Understood. Cheers, Neale.>

Aquatic Turtle Beh.; "Sittin' on the dock of the bay..."  Repro.      12/27/17
<Hiya Darrel here>
i have 3 must turtles(2 females 1 male)in a large tank, one of the turtles is spending a lot of time on the docking station, is she looking for somewhere to lay her eggs?
<When they become gravid (with eggs) they get very active, nervous and almost frantic>
.Also don't have enough space in my house to separate the turtles to make another nest for her to lay them, if she is looking to lay eggs, will she just lay them in the tank?
<Yes, or she will just re-absorb them. It's not a problem at all>
<That said, Bradley - when a turtle changes behavior, watch it very closely. Is it alert and active? Does she eat? If she just wants to bask more, that's OK - but if she's not active and stopped eating THAT is a sign we need to talk about>
Kind Regards Bradley Saunders

Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
We rescued a turtle (painted, we think) a couple of months ago, and brought it to our backyard pond. This morning we discovered two eggs in the water on our water lily plant. Everything I read says they lay their eggs on land.
<Yes, the get out, wander around until they find the perfect place, then they dig a hole and bury them.>
Will these eggs hatch, or can we remove them and bury them?
<If turtle eggs are exposed to water for more than a few seconds they are usually not viable. When a female expels her eggs in the water they are usually not fertile to begin with, so I doubt you lost anything at all. I would just dispose of them>
Thank you,

My Mississippi Maps hatchling     7/23/17
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a Mississippi map hatchling and a Peninsula Cooter in a 30 gal tank. Whenever anyone walks by the tank the maps turtle (Max) swims super crazy away. Now my Cooter (Thor) is beginning to do that to. Every day I pick them up and pet their heads and say there name and like hold them to my chest then give them a treat.
<That’s probably why they swim away. Being handled by humans is basically a frightening thing to them.>
I was wondering if the tank was too big and they don't feel safe or me picking them up is too early and now they are scared.
<That’s exactly right. To them, you are this HUGE thing and comes and takes them out of their “world” and does strange things to them>
<Although – they like the part about getting a treat>
Because I have a Red-Eared Slider that is bigger and when I put my hand in the water he comes and swims into it for me to hold I'm and say hi and then he knows he gets a treat. (its quite cute cuz he won’t get off my hand when I place it into the water, and when I do he moves his arms all crazy like, super excited for his treat. I also have a western side neck turtle who loves it also.
<You have it figured out. The Slider and the Side Neck have learned that you are a source of food and so they are excited by your presence.>
So idk what I am doing wrong with my babies and why they are so skittish. please help me I don't want them to be upset or them being stressed nor over stressed.
thank you so much,
Raelynn Rettinger
<Rae, you already have it figured out. They are skittish because they are scared. Remember that, in the wild, a baby turtle is just a prey item. Bigger turtles, snakes, alligators and birds – especially birds! And what does a bird do to a baby turtle? The turtle is in the water, minding his own turtle business, thinking turtle thoughts when along comes a HUGE monster that grabs the turtle and lifts it OUT of its water …. Just before swallowing it! The idea that being held close to another body is safe or nurturing is a mammal thing, not a reptilian thing. To them it means being eaten or being crushed.>
<My suggestion is that you stop handling them, give them their treats in the water until they associate you with food and good things and THEN you can start to handle them and treat them more like family … just keeping in mind that being handled will never feel like “fun” to them, so a little goes a long way>

Fine porcelain "crackling" Turtle Eggs     7/11/17
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
My 26 year old Eastern Box Turtles eggs look like a fine porcelain vase, with small crackling on the eggs. All pictures of eggs online show them looking like eggs from the fridge.
<The look of your eggs is more in line with my experience. They look white, shiny and perfect when they are first laid but usually was they dry they get a matte finish with blemishes>
The four eggs sit in Sphagnum Moss, half of the eggs covered, with moist paper towel over them, and a lid sitting on top. They are kept at a temperature of 78-82. The container has small hole in the lid and in the base. The eggs are about 58 days old.
<Sounds perfect>
Anyway, do some eggs have the appearance I've described, and still hatch?
<If they are fertile, yes. They may take anywhere from 75 to 120 days to hatch based on the temperature swings as well as the average temperature. The rule is to never give up hope until/unless the eggs collapse and begin to grow mold or fungus>
Thank you for your expertise, and time.
<no charge! -- good luck.>
<Oh ... when you get hatchlings there may be issues with initial feeding. They tend to be carnivorous when they are young, so what I do each day is soak them in 1/8 inch of lukewarm water for a few minutes and then offer them a teeny-tiny bit of moist cat food on the end of a toothpick. Sometimes it took two weeks after the yolk sac adsorbed before they showed the slightest interest>
Lori ��

Male turtle with something that looks like a tumor on his penis.     7/25/16
Dear who ever I am speaking too,
<That would be the person reading this (me)>
I have 4 red ear sliders, two grown ones and two baby ones in separate tanks.
<Wise choice to separate them by size>
I noticed a month ago my turtle’s penis was out often I had though maybe they're mating it had the color black which is normal. I don't wash the tank occasionally:/ and I noticed my male turtle had the whole penis out and it has a really big red thing above the penis still apart of it just above the head of the penis. And I don't know what it is or why it's like that... any help?
<Not without a specific examination. There can be many different sizes and shapes and some very odd formations along the way. As long as they are able to extend it and retract it I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you get a chance to take a photo of it then we could be of more help>

wild painted turtle    6/5/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I found a large painted turtle digging a nest this morning.
<Way cool!>
She appeared to lay eggs (I was watching from the kitchen). When she left there was a deep hole about and inch wide but she didn't cover it up. Do I cover it (it's right where my dog can get it) or does this mean she is coming back?
<She won’t be back, she probably forgot. If you cover the hole the eggs MAY hatch naturally, but why not hatch them yourself? It’s not hard and the babies are adorable {until they grow up, drop out of college and come how with some loser who thinks he’s going to be a musician, at least!}>
<read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm > I didn't disturb her and she appeared to be content.
Jeanne Paul

My female and male turtles       4/20/16
I have been wondering about this behavior that my female turtle tends to do to the male, I am sure she likes a lot because she follows him everywhere in the tank and when he hides she tries to get in. But I am mainly wondering why she is always getting in his face, she does not really get in his face she is always on top of his shell and doing the twiddle of her nails in his face. He does not seem to care at all so I assume he will never want to breed with her since he does not care, but it could also be that she is still young she fits in my hand while he is my whole hand and is not interested in none mature turtles. not really sure if they will ever mate but I am wondering why she keeps doing this and he is not caring.
<First ... he is a she and she's not>
<The smaller one with the long fingernails is the male and he is indeed trying to impress her with his attention and display of fancy claws. She is, typically, not interested. For one ... males reach maturity sooner than females, so he may be doing this for a year or two before she even gets a clue as to what is up.>

Terrapin question; beh.; repro. poss.      11/1/15
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I am confused by my terrapin's behaviour. She's not all quite active and will always let us know when she's hungry by coming to the front of the tank and splashing. She's otherwise content, she enjoys playing with the water filter and rattling her claws on the outlet. However the last 24 hours she's behaving as if she's ravenous, really agitated and trying to get our attention by clawing at the glass and constantly splashing.
However, she's not hungry. Her cleaning and care routine has not changed, I can't figure out any reason why she's upset.
Any ideas please?
Thanks a lot, Bex
<Bex, she may not be upset at all. She may be gravid. (That's a $5 word that means she may have eggs). Many of the water turtles gestate eggs even when no male is around. They eggs form inside them and then usually they reabsorb them. Once in a while the eggs inside form a shell around them and then they can't absorb them, so they have to lay them. At this stage
they get frantic and active almost all the time. If you take her out and let her walk around she'll seem non-stop like she's "looking" for something. Back in the tank she will be active and yet not eat.>
<This is all fine. If there's no male around then the eggs would be fertile. Eventually she'll just expel them, even in the water, and then she'll feel better. You can scoop the eggs out and dispose of them>
Re: Terrapin question        11/9/15

Oh wow, I had no idea about the eggs, that's really interesting. Thanks so much for the fast response. So shall I just leave her be and let her get on with it? How long might she be like this? Thanks again, Bex
<Eggs are one possibility, Bex, but it fits the description and the timing, etc. In any case, yes, just let it pass (to make a pun)>

Reeves turtle over fertile?       6/28/15
Hi Darrel,
Thank you for answering my question last time regarding my gravid turtle!
<No charge!>
She laid 2 clutches of eggs since we spoke last, 3 eggs and 6 eggs respectively which is normal.
A few days ago (her third time) she has been laying eggs very comfortably but to a total of 9 eggs so far. I'm concerned that its too many and i wonder if there is something i have been doing wrong?
<No, it's not too many. A single clutch is usually determined by physical space -- the size of the eggs and how many will fit in the reproductive tract. In her case, there were probably 6 in the left-hand duct and 3 in the right - although there could have been as many as 6+6. What I'm saying is that her first clutch was 9 eggs, laid 6 - then a pause - then 3 more. What you're seeing now is a true second gestation of eggs. Unusual to be sure, but not rare or dangerous. Just enjoy!!>
<As far as the number of

Baby yellow belly sick      3/21/15
Hi i am writing because i have a new hatchling and its sick. I have had the hatchling for only 10 days and by the third day i noticed its eyes were closed. By the 5 day i took my baby to the vet. It has been given two antibiotic shots and no improvement. We took the hatchling to the vet today and it was given a vitamin a shot. It hasn't eaten since we got it. I have mealworms, blood worm, hatchling pellets and purchased critical care flakes to try and feed via dropper with no luck. We also were prescribed eye drops. It just doesn't seem to be improving. It lives in a 10gallon tank with basking lamp and UVB light and filter with floating dock. I have purchased water conditioner and have been cleaning tank every couple days.
I am at a loss as to why my hatchling isn't doing better and i don't know what else i can do. Do you have any additional suggestions?
<If a turtle doesn't eat, then it won't put on weight, so your problem seems to be getting your turtle to eat. Let's review. Turtles, like all reptiles, have appetites dependent on metabolism which is in turn dependent on ambient temperature. They won't feed much below 18 C/64 F, and it's significant that baby turtles emerge from their eggs in time for late spring and summer rather than the middle of winter. So check the temperature of your vivarium. If the turtle spends most of its time basking and very little time in the water, the water may be too cold. Check its temperature. While it isn't standard practise, you can put a regular aquarium heater in a turtle tank to warm the water, up to 18-20 C, and that will be quite helpful in "intensive care" situations. Do remember turtles mostly feed in the water, so if they're staying on land all the time, they
won't get much to eat. Next, review the range of foods on offer. Some floating aquarium plants are a good "buffet" meal for any turtle, so grab some of those to start with. Also review the range of meaty foods.
Earthworms are like crack cocaine to most small predators, so if you can find some, try offering these. Since you're already getting help from a vet, then your turtle is getting the best possible support already, but as described above, there are some ways to entice starving turtles to eat.
Force feeding is possible but extremely risky. If you force food into the turtle, there's a good chance it'll go down the wrong pipe and suffocate the poor thing. So while your vet might be able to do this, I would never recommend it to pet owners. On the other hand, using a toothpick to place a very small morsel of food inside an open mouth is doable, particularly if you have a turtle that likes to "snap" when picked up. A tiny piece of prawn or a smear of tropical fish flakes would do the trick nicely. Don't try and force its mouth open though; again, the risk of doing more harm than good is a very real one. I've cc'ed Darrel, our turtle expert, in case he has anything to add. Cheers, Neale.>
Fw: Baby yellow belly sick /Darrel      3/21/15

<Hiya - Darrel here>
I am writing because I have a new hatchling and it's sick. I have had the hatchling for only 10 days and by the third day I noticed its eyes were closed. By the 5 day I took my baby to the vet. It has been given two antibiotic shots and no improvement. We took the hatchling to the vet today and it was given a vitamin a shot. It hasn't eaten since we got it. I have mealworms, blood worm, hatchling pellets and purchased critical care flakes to try and feed via dropper with no luck. We also were prescribed eye drops. It just doesn't seem to be improving. It lives in a 10gallon tank with basking lamp and UVB light and filter with floating dock. I have purchased water conditioner and have been cleaning tank every couple days. I am at a loss as to why my hatchling isn't doing better and I don't know what else I can do. Do you have any additional suggestions?
<My immediate concern, Heather, is to get him out of the water. Although they are normally aquatic, when a turtle is sick the warm wet environment works to help the bacteria or fungus or whatever is ailing him. We have a treatment that has become affectionately known as "dry-docking" which means to take him out of the water and keep him warm and dry while he heals and/or recovers. You can read all about it here:
<As far as his underlying sickness, the loss of appetite and the closed eyes all point to a vitamin deficiency, which in turn is part of a dietary deficiency, which Neale already covered.>
<You've given him the vitamin shot already. If you dry-dock him it will help him rest and recover - then it's a question of if we caught it in time. For what it's worth, if you've only had him 10 days, he was malnourished and vitamin depleted before you got him.>
Re: Fw: Baby yellow belly sick
Darrel I will remove the hatchling immediately from the tank with water. I was thinking the same thing as far as it already being sick when i got the hatchling. i just really hope we can save him or her at this point so i want to make sure i do everything possible. We also have a older red ear slider in a 20 gallon tank which he "Soup" yes we named him soup started out as joke but stuck. He is about 5 inches across his shell and have had him for a year. He is very active and friendly. I noticed last night his stool is soft like he has diarrhea. He eats feeder fish, pellets and meal worms. Should i be concerned or do you think i should first add more greens since we really haven't been giving him much? Sent from my Boost phone.

Help with slider egg       8/9/14
<Hello Kim,>
I found your website while looking for information on incubating a yellow bellied slider egg.
<Fire away.>
This egg was laid on 6/30/14. I have kept it in the same position it was when laid.
When it was first laid there was a noticeable dent in one side. The dent filled in nicely after a few days. I have kept this egg in a plastic container with potting soil in it on my porch (out of direct sunlight). I keep a spray bottle filled with water nearby and mist it each morning and evening (not the egg but the dirt). I keep a lid on it but sitting askew because it doesn't have holes drilled in the top.
I started to candle it and have been able to detect an embryo and vessels.
The night before last I noticed movement of the small embryo. I have candled it every day since and continue to see movement. I also decided to place a white paper towel over the dirt to keep the egg from getting dirty so it would be easier to see through the shell when candling. I just nestle the egg in the paper towel and then cover it slightly.
My problem/question is that this morning I noticed a concave dent in the bottom that runs the length of the egg. I also notice that the side (where the original dent was) seems weak.
<May well be if the shell was deformed. As the embryo grows, water pressure inside the egg will change. Since reptile eggs aren't hard in the same way as bird eggs, this can result in the shell imploding or expanding slightly.>
I'm concerned because I have read that this denting/collapse usually happens either when they die or right before hatching.
<Indeed; see previous statement.>
I don't think it's dead (yet) because I did see movement this morning. It is also too soon for him to hatch (the egg will be just 6 weeks old on Monday - and what I see moving is a very small spot). Do you have any answers as to why the denting has happened? And is there anything I need to or should do?
<Try to do as little as possible. This is the golden rule with reptile eggs. Turtles have been multiplying away busily for some 200 million years, and they really don't need our help. Indeed, the many endangered species would do better if we left them alone, and that's almost always a good idea with pet turtles too.>
I bought an aquarium heater, Styrofoam cooler, and thermometer today with the thought that I might need to make an incubator that may keep him at a more constant temperature and level of humidity. But I'm not sure. If the dents are ok and not hurting things or if there is something I'm doing wrong, please let me know. I live in south Alabama if that helps.
Thank you so much for your help!!
<Rearing turtle eggs is very much trial and error. Everyone has their own method (see the Internet for a slew of these!) though the fundamentals are widely accepted. Since there's nothing you can do if the turtle egg is damaged, carry on what you're doing, avoid handling as far as possible (cracking the weak spot is more lethal than the egg simply having a weak spot) and hope for the best. Have cc'ed our turtle expert, Darrel, in case I've missed something. Good luck, Neale.>

Wild turtle      7/19/14
Hi there!!!
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Great site. Today we saw a large pond slider (around a 12 inch long shell) laying eggs. She was in the actual laying process when I saw her, possibly burying. . Was really cool, even though there is a man made pond, we live in north Texas and are in the middle of a major draught. Anyways, she herself had filled the hole with water. As you will see in the picture she laid them right up against a garage wall. My main question is this....what can we do to help prevent the eggs from being dug up? And as our temps are around 100 right now, how long is the incubation? Thanks for the help in advance :)
<Here is everything you need to know:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm >
<Good luck!!>

Re: Wild turtle      8/1/14
Thanks for the reply.
<Sorry I'm so late, I was traveling and unable to access mail>
We used to have up to 10 various terrapins and tortoises when our kids were growing up. We gave most to other herpetologists in the area though someone stole out ornate Chinese box turtle out of our backyard :(. Anyways, I think I will attempt the removal process as we won't be here much longer, and I would hate to have the other kids around get to any babies and injure or kill them. So, more questions for you :).
1. Will condensation from the box lid be sufficient for moisture over the next 90 days or so?
<I usually test the moisture every 30 days and sometimes add a tint bit
using a syringe or baster (so as not to get the actual eggs wet)>
2. If not should I mist them and if so how often. (I would do the separate boxes but I do not wish to move them more than one time)
<When I incubate tortoise eggs commercially, I do just that. I prepare a new tray of vermiculite every 30 days and gently move the eggs. In your case, just checking for moisture will be fine>
3. Will outside on a shaded balcony be ok?
<That depends. Summertime in Oregon or California, yes. Summer in Phoenix no -- then inside, perhaps on an upper shelf in a closet>
4. The temp often gets over 100 here in the summer, is that ok once I excavate them.
<Closet shelf then>
5. Is it best to dig from the outside into the chamber, straight from the top or a combination of both
<I go from an angle and get VERY cautious as I dig. Remember to preserve the orientation of the egg. I try to make a dot with a graphite pencil (don't user a magic marker) on the top before I move them>
Sorry so many additional questions, but I want to do this right. I have successfully rehabbed many species of baby wildlife, but never dug up turtle eggs.

Reeves turtle gravid?      6/19/14
Dear WWM,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm a concerned parent of a 3 year old Reeves turtle. In Hong Kong there aren't a lot of Herp Vets so I asked the pet shop owner a year after and he confirmed that my turtle is a female.
She's really friendly usually and eats a LOT.. but recently she's been acting really strange. She doesn't eat, she keeps running towards the glass, not basking (she loves basking usually), and rearranging everything. She hasn't touched her cuttlefish bone which she usually consumes quickly.
<off her feed, unusual behavior and a sense of being …. Frantic? When I see that the first thing I think is gravid. You may or may not be able to probe her abdomen accurately so without a fairly invasive internal exam it's hard to tell.>
On Google it keeps showing posts about female turtles being gravid and wanting to lay eggs. I tried checking for eggs in between her hind legs and her shell but I couldn't feel any eggs. Despite that I introduced a sand box to her every night but she shows no interest.
<That is normal too. Usually they ignore any man-made nesting box that is introduced suddenly. In order to really effectively use a nesting box, it has to be connected and accessible via the main tank so that she can visit at her convenience -- and this is important -- we attach these boxes MONTHS in advance of the breeding season so that by the time she needs it she'll take it for granted. And even with all that, many will refuse to dig or lay and eventually drop the eggs in the water>
Please help! It's been about 5 days now. I'm not sure what to do at this point and she's my first turtle.
<First - check for basic things. Make sure there are no outside forces agitating her: No fans, motors, vibrations… nothing that would make YOU nervous if you felt it. Next, make sure the water is very clean and clear, the food offered is clean and fresh, etc. Last, put her in your sand box every evening before dark and leave her there until after daylight the next morning. Do this every day, like clockwork, for as long as it takes for her to sense this as "normal" and not "special." She may lay the eggs, or drop them in the water --or-- sometimes they reabsorb the eggs and suddenly start acting normal.>
<If she has been well fed and is otherwise healthy, she can go 6 weeks without eating -- so don't let that scare you. What I mean is the lack of eating is always a disturbing sign because they are creatures of habit… but the lack of actual FOOD is not to worry about.>
Thanks so much for your time.
Re: Reeves turtle gravid?      6/19/14
Thank you so much Darrel! I will give that a go right away. I've made a bigger sand box and put potting soil which she seems to prefer and has been digging a few holes.

Concerned     3/21/14
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I need some help about 5 years ago I saw my ornate box tortoise pooping out a white oblong soft rubbery substance I assumed it was a still born egg
<it was an egg, yes. No way to know if it was fertile>

so I threw it away and today I went to go feed my 12 year old RES and on the bottom of her tank was the same white oblong substance a couple were still intact with like a runny almost yolk like substance and then a bunch of pieces floating on the bottom I cleaned her tank and returned her to it can you tell me what is going on I am concerned I don't have the money for a reptile vet but if she needs to see a vet then I know I have to come up with the money
<No need for a vet at this point. Your turtle is laying eggs. Turtles often start to gestate eggs in their normal biological cycle but if the eggs are not fertilized the female's body just absorbs them again. In some cases even unfertilized eggs will form the outer shell, in which case she lays them even through they are not fertile.>
<If your female has not been with a male for the last 5 years, there is virtually no chance that the eggs are fertile - but if she has… then they might be and if the eggs were laid on land (in other words not expelled into the water) then it might be worth trying to incubate them. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm in either case, this is nothing to worry about. Just remove the egg parts and clean the tank and she'll be fine>
Thank you...shanti ~~shanti Simon~~

Turtle laying eggs one at a time
Turtle Having Problems Laying Eggs    11/9/13

Hi there, In 2006, Chuck helped when my turtle got her head stuck in some tubing.
She's generally been fine ever since. However, she's kind of a mess right now. At the beginning of the summer, we saw she was acting listless as per usual when she's gravid, but she wouldn't lay her eggs in her dirt bucket.
We took her to the vet. He confirmed eggs, gave her vitamin shots, and encouraged us to feed her more cuttlebone. In July, she managed to get her flipper stuck in the filter intake after breaking the intake apart (seriously not the brightest turtle). She pulled through and, with some very bite-inducing physical therapy, is now okay.
However, she still hasn't laid all her eggs and now it's November.
Bringing her back and forth to the vet, plus the stress of life, led to her having pneumonia (she's getting shots and is improving). She's living in a new 45g tub with about a foot of soil and peat moss. The ambient temperature is around 80 degrees and she has her basking lights that bring the dirt to around 100/105 directly under the lamp, though she doesn't seem to want to bask and spends a lot of time under her cardboard box. She gets about a half hour of swimming time as per the vet's suggestions. She's not eating every time we put her in; sometimes, she'll eat 3-4 pellets and other times she'll eat 15-20. She can swim better now but tires quickly. Much of the time she'll spend on the dock, basking or chilling out with her head slightly submerged. What does that mean?
< Ambient temps may be too high.>
As of now, she's laid two out of her six eggs. The vet says the turtle needs amazing conditions but my turtle has laid eggs multiple times before without any issues or Barry White. What can I do to get her to lay the rest or is it time to get her induced? Thanks again, Veronica
< Normal turtle habitats have a cyclic temperature range. Hot during the day and cool at night. If the habitat is kept too warm the turtle does not have a rest period and she is on high metabolism all the time. In fact most temperate  turtles hibernate during the winter  and have a much better time reproducing in the spring.  When conditions are very good some turtles can double clutch and lay eggs in the spring and the fall. Your vet can give your turtle a shot to induce her lay her eggs. That may be the best coarse of action at this time to reduce the stress of prolonged egg binding.-Chuck>

Pregnant Diamondback Terrapin     5/21/13
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My concern involves my 9 year old female Diamondback Terrapin.
<When I was a kid in Florida and I wanted a turtle, by parents bought me the basic care book on Turtles - and it had a Diamondback on the cover.  Thinking was THE coolest turtle in the world, I read and learned and got all set up to have one -- and there was none to be had.  All the pet stores had were Red Eared Sliders, so I never got my Diamondback.  Even to this day I think about them kinda wistfully.   Hmmm … now I'm wondering if that's part of my problem?>
First off, I found her (and a male) 9 years ago off of a Jersey Bay when I was walking home. The two terrapins were a little larger then quarters so I imagined they had just hatched. Instead of heading to the bay, the babies headed into the road and they were the only two out of about 20 I saw that were still alive. Anyway, about a month ago my female started wanting out of the tank constantly, attempting to climb out anyway she could. I had no idea she was pregnant until about a week and a half ago I found an egg at the bottom of the tank.
<Strange, frenetic activity during the early spring is a typical sign>
Since I found the egg, she would do nothing but lay out on the basking dock 24/7. After two days of her not eating or swimming, I set up a separate tank for her with a swimming area and a beach of crushed shells and sand hoping she would lay the 'rest' of the eggs so she would start acting normal. Since she's been in this tank she's ate some food, but she still doesn't seem right. I'm very worried and I just want to know if she's acting this way because there's more eggs to come, she's sick or dying?
<She's probably not sick or dying.  She probably is gravid (That's a $5 word meaning 'pregnant with eggs') and she's probably uncomfortable.  Let me give you the general picture about turtles and eggs:>
<Females often gestate eggs - even when there are no males present.  If the conditions aren't right in any number of ways, her body just reabsorbs the eggs and that's the end of it.  If the conditions are good enough, the eggs will develop the hard shell on the outside.  Once that happens she can't reabsorb and starts looking for places to lay them.   They become nervous and active and frantically walking around.  Even when presented with a nesting box they'll search every inch, often digging "test holes" just to see, only to abandon them in favor of another and another and another.  It always reminds me of my ex-wife shopping for shoes - no male, human, turtle or otherwise, could ever know what's better about one than another but if we even dare to ask the question we're liable to get our heads bitten off.>
<ANYWAY … if no suitable location is found they will often just deposit them on the floating dock or even in the water - just to get rid of them.  In a very small percent of cases - and I mean one in perhaps a thousand, the eggs just stay in the oviduct and sort of calcify into stones.  If that happens they seem to lead normal, happy lives, but their fertile days are over.>
<What you can do for Snickey (assuming her name is Snickey) is to give her a nesting box.   Get a large plastic storage tub with high sides from a Building Supply store and a bag of peat moss and a bag of Vermiculite.   The Vermiculite now comes only in large (2 cu ft) bags called Therm-o-Rock.   Mix half & half into the tub until it's about 8 inches deep and then place it in the direct sun.   Place a cover over part, so there is some shade, and then put Snickey in there and see what she does.   You may have to arrange some sort of additional walls so that she can't climb out, but if you leave her in there for a couple days and nights, she might decide it's worth trying.>
<Don't worry about her not eating or basking.   She's well equipped to go a week or two without either of those.  On the other hand, after a few days, if she's just sitting there looking at you like she has no idea what she did to be put in turtle jail, put her back in her regular tank for a day or two and then try again>
 Any advice would be great. Thank you so much.   -Sheena

Emydid repro./beh.      1/13/13
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have two turtles, a male Red-Eared Slider and a female Painted turtle. I know they've tried to mate before (I was freaking out because she was bleeding and he had a strange bulge so I took them to the vet and that's what they told me).
I see them doing, what I assume are,   rituals all the time (including
quickly wiggling their front fingers at one another).
<Yes, the male turtle waves his fingernails in front of the female, as if he's saying HEY! LOOK AT MY PRETTY LONG FINGERNAILS!  WANT TO GO GET A CUP OF COFFEE?"
Meanwhile the female is thinking "AS IF!!!  I WORK FOR YEARS TO HAVE PRETTY
Now I'm worried for a few reasons. The female seems to be getting on half of the dock that we have in their tank but keeping her body under water and biting at the air and then blowing bubbles under water. This has been going on for a couple weeks and the bubbles are accumulating in the dock area.
Tonight I came home and while she was doing that, the male was apparently trying to mount her (getting on top of her while she was on the dock and wiggling his tail underneath hers). I'm worried that she either has a lung infection or she is trying to lay eggs (which I didn't think was possible with two different species),
<Yes - all the Sliders, Cooters, Painteds, etc. will interbreed>
in which case I don't know as I have the proper set up for her to lay them.
<When the female is gravid (with eggs) and it's time to lay them, she'll usually behave differently - nervous, moving all the time, wandering around her enclosure, scratching everywhere, etc. This behavior is SO unusual compared to their normal activities, you won't miss it.   Building a nesting box for her is more complicated that just putting her in a box of dirt, because even then they just might not find the right spot.  Ideally, the box should be at least 2 feet by 3 feet and have at least 8 inches of a mixture of potting soil and vermiculite.  Place a small, incandescent 60w bulb at one end (about 12 inches from the soil) to provide some ground warmer that other places, place her in there for a few days and see what happens>
<All that said, in your case she's not exhibiting that behavior.  The gaping is not terribly unusual and the bubble blowing is a bit more unusual, so I'm "concerned" at this point, but not "worried" if you understand the difference.>
<Here is a link to an article on illnesses.   The article describes what we playfully call "dry docking" a turtle - and it's based on this principle: 
When the turtle becomes unhealthy, the warm moist environment they normally enjoy becomes a problem -- when they are weak for any reason, the warm moist world gives an edge to the bacteria and fungus that can hurt them.
SO, we take them out, place them somewhere warm and DRY for a couple weeks - and if they are fighting any sort of infection, the tide turns, the advantage is on the Turtle and it's easier for her to lick whatever is ailing her.  Try it for two weeks - it's all carefully explained - and let's see how she does.>
Please help!
<I hope we did!>
Love & rockets,

Baby Painted Turtle, laying eggs?    9/25/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a baby painted turtle that I've had for five months or so.  Its shell was the size of a quarter and now it's probably about 2 1/2  inches long.
<That's impressive growth>
 It stopped eating about 2 weeks ago so I did some  research and realized it didn't have the proper lighting, so it now has  a heat lamp as well as a UVB light.  It seems to love the heat lamp and  has been on its rock basking a lot but still hasn't started to eat  yet.  I noticed the past couple days it has been kicking its back feet  a lot and has never done this before.
<They do that as a normal part of basking>
It also seems restless and will  jump on and off its rock and will swim frantically into the glass.
<Also typical behavior - they do that when they see you coming because they associate you with food>
I  already did a lot of reading and all these things seem like signs of  egg laying.
<Not in this case - all signs of a typical turtle>
But I also read that they usually don't lay eggs until  they're at least 4 years of age.
<No, that's incorrect information - Reptiles attain sexual maturity by SIZE, not age>
My turtle isn't even a half a year old  yet.  I'm just hoping there is a reason for its loss of appetite other  than illness.
<Let's not get too nervous just yet.  Not eating for a few weeks does sometimes happen for no apparent reason.  First things first, your description is that he's awake, alert and active? All good signs.  Is the shell firm and hard?  No soft spots?  The eyes are clear?  No bubbles from the nose?>
<If all the basic health signs are positive, then let's look at environment.   A warm basking area?  Cool, clean, unheated water?  No dogs or babies or other 'monster-looking' things that might be terrifying him?
Read this article on basic care - every word - and measure your care standards against the recommendations.  
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm  if everything is in line, STOP trying to feed him for another week - then offer something like an earthworm and see if he doesn't go right for it>

Ornate Box Tortoise, repro. issue?   8/1/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Jaremiah - Darrel here>
I am really worried about my estimated eight year old ornate box tortoise.
She mated with a male about two months ago and I started finding eggs but it turned out to be another tortoise we have, she however has not laid any eggs and is becoming lethargic and I am worried she is egg bound.
<I wouldn't worry too much, Jare - while tortoise and turtles do get egg bound, it's a LOT more rare than people think.  Usually, if conditions aren't right to lay the eggs and/or they don't expel the eggs, they simply re-absorb them.   They don't become a problem until the hard shell forms and that usually happens just before laying>
She won't eat but she will soak in her water in some kind of trance most of the time.
<I feel the same way many days, recently>
The rest of the time she stays in a trance with her arms, legs, and head out of her shell.
<That's only because she can't swill Bourbon>
She was digging holes and seemed to be preparing to lay eggs.
<Sometimes they dig around and for whatever reason decides it's not going to happen, but it's too early to know that yet.>
I cannot afford a vet and it is so sad is there anything I can do to help her if she is egg bound.
<The only thing to do is soak her in 3/4 inches of lukewarm water for 20 minutes a day.   Occasionally that will stimulate expulsion.>
<But if you're asking me, monitor her for now.  Let her be.  Offer food every other day or so, but let her go through what she has to go through. 
If she's still in this torpid state by September, then consider the baths>
FW: Ornate Box Tortoise     8/5/12

Thanks a lot, I have recently notice she has one eye she doesn't open and some liquid was coming from it today. So I brought her inside in an aquarium until she feels better. Is this ok. I personally despise people who keep turtles in a small confined area, My habitat is almost 100 square feet, but it is over a hundred degrees and she doesn't dig into the mulch like the other turtles.
<Discharge from the eyes, called 'weeping' is not uncommon in some turtles, but it's not common in Box turtles.   See about giving her a vitamin A supplement.   If she's eating, very small chunks of liver (beef or chicken) can be given along with their regular veggies and they usually gobble them up.>
<In a large garden-type area like you describe, are we sure that no one has used any pesticides or snail-bait?  Or fed her a snail from another garden that did?>
Re: Ornate Box Tortoise     8/7/12

We have used Seven on our vegetable garden that is about ten feet away from their habitat. We wash everything we give them. Could this be it.
<Snail bait is toxic to turtles - but unless she ate a turtle pellet or ate a snail that had eaten a pellet, it wouldn't be a factor.>
She is a little lazy sleeping most of the time.
<It's not a great thing that she's sleeping most of the time, but then again my box turtles are healthy and they're only active during the morning and dusk hours.  In the middle of the day they usually seek shade and sleep.>
<If you continue to be concerned about her lethargy, bring her indoors for a few days and see if more moderate temperatures and simply a big change stimulates her in any way>

Terrapene carolina; repro.     7/29/12
Hi, I have an Eastern Box Turtle that has recently laid 3 eggs. One she laid and didn't bury, so I'm guessing they're infertile. The other 2 she laid under her "home". Is there anything special I should do for her eggs?
<Chuck 'em away? Seriously, rearing turtle eggs is very difficult. For one thing, if you move them so they aren't oriented with the "up" the right way, you'll kill them. In zoos they draw an "x" on the top when they expose the nest, and make sure to carry the eggs with "x" upwards. In any case, if there isn't a male with the her, or hasn't been for a few weeks, they won't be fertilised, so they're no more likely to hatch into turtles than eggs from the grocery store hatching into chickens.>
I have them in a bowl with moist (but not wet) potting soil, they're in a warm environment, and partially buried. I spray them everyday just to make sure they're not drying out, I'm using distilled water because I read tap water wasn't good for them. Am I not doing something, or should I change something, because I would like to have at least 1 baby turtle live. I caught her in the wild, so I know nothing of her past. Also, is there a way that I can tell if anything is forming inside the egg?
<Yes, holding up to a light can reveal what's going on inside a few days after laying. It's called "candling" because candles have been used in the past. Google "candling eggs" and you'll get some photos. Infertile eggs are just a dark mess after a few days, but fertilised eggs will have visible blood vessels inside you can see. Smell is also a good clue.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle help  11/17/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two snake neck turtles and one of them has laid her second egg, the first egg was hollow except for some yolk but this second egg feels quite heavy. It was on its side underwater and when picked up it was upside down until I flipped it around to right side up, because the egg was found in water I presume that it is already dead.
What should I do next time I find an egg? Should I make a nest in its basking area, if so how should I come about doing this?
There isn't a whole lot of information on snake necks and it would be very helpful, thanks :)
<The good news is that this is still in the realm of basics. Prior to laying eggs, your female turtle's behavior will change. She'll seem restless and over active or lethargic and under active. She'll eat too much or not enough, etc. You should notice this.>
<In a perfect world you'd add a nesting box to her existing enclosure or add a deep tub of nesting mix (I'll get to that later) into that enclosure. But if they're in a glass tank, what you have to do is remove her to a separate nesting box. Unfortunately this is an attempt to get her to lay eggs on OUR schedule and not let her naturally lay them on hers. Many times a keeper will place the turtle in the nesting box, leaving her there for DAYS and in the 15 minutes that she's back in her home tank for drinking and eating, she plops the egg right in the water. An external nesting box is an imperfect solution, but it's what we have to work with.>
< I suggest that you get a dark sided plastic tub, approximately 24 inches by 16 inches by 30 inches tall (all these are VERY approximate). If you find a container the right length and width, you can fabricate higher sides even by using cardboard taped in place around the edges. Add a basking/heat light of some sort. Make a mixture of Vermiculite, play sand (sandbox sand) and potting soil in equal parts to cover the bottom 6 to 8 inches deep, more if you can. Turn on the basking lamp and point it toward one corner of the nesting box, so that part of the substrate is HOT, areas around it are warm, and places further away are cooler.>
<Place her in the box and for most of each day, returning her to the regular tank in the evening. With any luck -- and a lot of patience on your part (this can take weeks) she'll figure out what she's supposed to do.>
<The hard part is that you have to notice when she has finally laid the eggs. Usually you can see a change in her demeanor -- she's calm again. Either she laid the eggs -or- if she hadn't found the right spot and the eggs hadn't shelled yet (the hard outer shell forms last) she may reabsorb them.>
<If you get the eggs, here's what to do next: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm >

Egg question   8/10/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm sorry if this seems like a silly question, but I'm having trouble finding the answer when I search on Google
<Too much information is also as bad as not enough - not to mention that every answer eventually gets to Google, right OR wrong>
It just strictly talks about breeding and nothing else. I've had my painted turtle for close to seven years now and she laid eggs right when I got her, I read everything I could about hatching the eggs but I was unsuccessful.
<Here's a simple article about how to incubate turtle eggs: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm >
My silly question is...Do female turtles lay eggs even when they're not being bred? One sit lead me to believe that they lay them yearly like a cycle and if you don't have a place for them to bury the eggs the will retain them and become very ill? Which I feel like this information isn't correct since I've had my turtle for so long and she never laid eggs again, but it still got me all worried, I'm only a teenager so I'm attempting to learn as much as I can about turtles...sorry if this was a dumb question!
<Actually, Kelsey, that's a GREAT question!!!!>
I just don't want her to die because I love her :)
<Well, thanks for that Kelsey. We all appreciate that you care and are trying to make a good home>
<Here are your answers: Yes, it is possible for a turtle to lay eggs even if there has been no sexual activity. Some turtles have been known to lay fertile eggs for as many as 10 years after their last mating. Other times, for reasons we don't fully understand - if the seasons and times and feedings and {whatever else} is JUST RIGHT, they can gestate eggs for no reason at all.>
<Now here's where it gets interesting and/or complicated: It takes the female a few weeks to gestate the eggs. During that time she usually eats a bit more, but is otherwise acting normally. The eggs inside her are soft, jelly-like things. If conditions are wrong (too hot, too cold, too little food, too much stress not fully understood) her body can just reabsorb the eggs. Toward the end of gestation, the eggs "shell" or form a firm leathery outer covering in preparation for being laid. As THAT is happening, your turtle begins to act weird. Little or no appetite, swimming against the glass almost all the time, roaming the basking area over and over listening to 60's music and joining mainstream political parties yanno just WEIRD.>
<This is the time that, if she is provided a nesting box with the right kind of substrate at the right depth and the right temperature, she'll dig a hole and lay the eggs. But even if she CAN'T find these conditions, most of the water turtles will just eventually squirt the eggs out ... on land even in the water just to get rid of them>
<The dangerous condition that some people write about is called "Egg Binding." And this happens when the she doesn't lay the eggs or is having trouble expelling them. I have at times treated this by inducing labor with Oxitocin - the same drug used to induce labor in pregnant women. If the eggs bind and are not expelled, she can carry them for the rest of her life (they calcify and become like rocks) or they can decay and rot and she can get sick.>
<ALL THAT SAID . 99 out of 100 times, if they can't lay the eggs they expel them in the water. Of the 1 out of 100 where they can't, 90% of those times the eggs calcify and all that means is that she can't have any fertile eggs in the future so the egg binding condition that leads to a serious health problem is a real long shot and nothing I'd worry about on a regular basic.>
<Look for clear, alert eyes. Steady appetite. Basking and swimming, etc. Normal activities keep her out of traffic and away from credit cards (Painted Turtles have NO financial common sense at all!) and she'll be fine!>
Re: Egg question, painted turtle    8/21/11

Thank you so much for your help!!!
<No charge!>
She's definitely a normal, happy, and hungry turtle!
<Does a parent proud, doesn't it?>
Also now I'll know what signs to look for in the future, so I feel a lot better now :D
Thanks again!
<Tell your friends about us!>

Yellow Bellied Slider Hatchling Questions    6/17/11
Dear WWM,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I had a couple questions regarding my new turtles.
<Well, let's see if I have a couple of answers>
They're each about 1.5" in shell diameter.
1. I noticed one of them sleeps with its neck almost completely outstretched and its head resting on the basking log, is this an indicator of the turtle being unwell?
<Well, it's not normal, so yes. It's an indication that he's ill>
2. Their eyes are very slightly swollen and I've been giving them eye drops daily, but I wanted to know what are some good foods that are easy for them to eat but also rich in vitamin A.
<An earthworm, beef or chicken liver or shredded carrots - but with that said, they need quite a bit more than just that. They should be warm and dry, have extra amounts of UV-B lighting and a full vitamin supplement in their food initially. The first link I'm going to give you is on treatment of illnesses.
What is important to note is that illnesses to due to dietary or environmental conditions took quite some time to develop and will take quite some time to heal. During this time, their "normal" warm, wet habitat can actually be a detriment to them. Also make sure that they are eating a well balanced diet. ReptoMin food sticks and a good quality Koi pellet are perfect foods. Coat a few pellets with Cod Liver Oil and offer them during the feeding period.>
<Now, while they guys are in the ICU, you can take the time to go over their normal housing and see if you have a proper setup. Here is a link to basic care instructions:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm it's important to note that while they don't need very much in the way of specifics, they absolutely need what they need. Food, temperature, UV, etc. Read the entire article and measure your care against the standards.>
3. Do you have any recommendations on how to change the water in their tank? It's not exactly easy carrying out 6+ gallons of water every week and generally only the bottom of the water gets cloudy so I wanted to know if it's possible to remove the bottom water and just pour in clean water to replace it.
<Essentially yes. Just like in a fish-based aquarium, you can siphon out water from the bottom, actively using the tube to suck out visible particles, and then replace that water with new water. If you have just 2 or 3 hatchlings and 6 gallons of water, you can repeat this partial water change 4-5 times before a full, complete drain, wipe & refill every 6th time>
Thanks so much for the help, I've spent many hours reading information on the site!
<You are so very welcome!>
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider Hatchling Questions    6/19/11

Thanks for such a fast reply, I know my turtles will appreciate the immediate help I can give them.
<Time is always of the essence in treatment of turtles and fish, Jon -- they often show no outward signs of sickness until the condition is quite advanced>
I read through the two articles and honestly I feel like I have a very adequate environment set up.
They are in a 20 gallon long tank with two filters (a hanging one and the zoomed filter that looks like a rock waterfall). The basking area is between 87-91 degrees and the water temperature sits at 76.
<A tad on the warm side. 68 to 73 is best -- plain old Room Temperature.
No heater needed or even desirable>
They have the basking light and a UVB bulb that are on for 14 hours each day and then there is a red bulb that turns on at night which keeps the tank at ~81 degrees over night. I'm feeding them Zoo Med natural aquatic turtle food (hatchling formula) should I abandon this?
<No - it's a fine food, Jon. I'm just partial to plain old Koi pellets - I raise hatchlings to breeders on that one staple formula>
When I put the turtles in isolation do I need two separate containers for each of them, or can both be in the same one?
<the same is fine. Not only are we not talking about infectious diseases here, but even if we were - both would be exposed to it. So yes, by all means keep them together>
Should I continue with the heating light then red light at night to maintain the day/night cycle?
<It can't hurt>
Thanks again.
<You're welcome, Jon>
Jonathan Hsu

Food gets stuck in baby turtle's mouth   3/12/11
Hi there again,
Thank you for your advice last time.
<Yer welcome>
After 6 weeks isolation a few months ago my baby turtle recovered and he has been doing fine, quite energetic, has an appetite however for a while now I've noticed he seems to have more and more trouble eating his food. At first I thought it was cute the way he tried to tear at the food in his mouth with his hands, but now I see that the reason why he does that is because the food seems to get stuck in his upper mouth. The food now just gets stuck then floats away after he unsticks it with his hands. Today he tried so hard to eat but could not. He eventually gave up trying. :( I looked through your web but I'm not sure what the problem is?
Looking forward to your reply and thanks in advance for your time.
<I've experienced that a few times, too. Not ME but baby turtles, I mean. The problem is just the shape of the food and therefore the size of the bite he takes>
<The thing to do, for now, is change foods for a little bit. If you're using Koi pellets, they come in smaller sizes. If you're using Repto-min food sticks, change to Koi pellets for a while. (Don't buy a huge, expensive bag, just a small bag).>
<Also, visit your local pet store or bait shop and buy a small container of earthworms or night crawlers. Offer the turtle one worm and see if he's interested. You can dump the rest into your garden if it's warm enough>
Re Food gets stuck in baby turtles mouth  3/26/11
Hello wet web media,
I feed him Zoo med aquatic turtle food, which is the smallest turtles food I know out there,
<Here's what I'd do: try mashing some of the Zoo Med pieces with a fork. Some will break into almost dust - and you can just toss those away, but a few will break into smaller pieces. Place him in a shallow bowl of lukewarm water - just up to his shoulders and after a few minutes (for him to get over being freaked out) place the pellet pieces in the water and let him eat. This way you'll be able to closely see what he eats - AND the small pieces wont foul up the water in your main tank>
my baby is around 1 inch shell big, some days he can eat some days he can't, how often are baby turtles suppose to eat?
<I feed mine all the can eat in 5 minutes, every other day. When they are about a year old, I change that to 3 times a week.>
I've also noticed that his under shell is a bit soft in the middle, is this normal? Or some sort of vitamin deficiency or shell rot?
<Hard to say from way over here. Remember, Turtles need UV-B light. They can't get that from sunlight that goes through glass (even going through window screen blocks some of it) and the bulb has to be within 8-10 inches of the basking area for a UV-B bulb to be effective>
<read here to make sure youre covering all the basics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Many many thanks you once again for your time and advice!

Another event taking place with Ralphie... Turtle, shell, now repro....    3/23/11
I last heard from you wonderful people on March 16th in regards to Ralphie losing her shell. Well today Ralphie proved she is in fact a female by laying 3 eggs.
<The tiny earrings and painted nails weren't a tip-off?>
I've read on line that she may have more and I am unsure of what to do. It's 35 degrees here today so I am thinking putting her outside to finish laying isn't the right idea but her tank isn't set up with a place to dig (she has a platform to bask on but the rest of her tank is water) can you tell me if she is going to get egg bound or whatever it's called. I see many people warning about this on line.
<She'll not likely lay eggs on ground that is too cold, so outside isn't a good idea>
She has never laid eggs before to my knowledge. She hasn't mated so is it possible that all she is going to have are the 3 she laid?
<The internal process is that the eggs are gestated and then, right at the end - just before laying, the shell begins to stiffen. Many turtles will gestate eggs and then absorb them again when there are no laying conditions. Because Ralphie hasn't mated (that we know of -it's 3am do you know where YOUR turtle is?) we can be certain that the eggs aren't fertile and our concern is to help her expel them. Shelled eggs that don't get laid can stick in the canal and actually calcify.>
Would a box of dirt be OK?
<A box with some dirt and maybe some Vermiculite (a kind of potting soil) mixed in and then set up inside the same room as her tank might do the trick. But she's unlikely to do it while you watch. Put her in the box, leave her overnight, then back in her tank in the morning. Repeat for just a few days and if she has any eggs to expel, she'll drop them>
Sorry to annoy you with questions but being female the idea of eggs stuck sounds horrifying to me and I'd like to help her avoid that if I can.
<No annoyance here. We live for this. We're chained to desks in the basement of the Flemner Building in downtown Cleveland and this is our only contact with the outside world so keep the cards & letters coming!!>
She is still losing pieces of her shell and our vet seems to think it is SCUD. Any thoughts
on that?
<The Vet has a few million more educational credits than I have AND actual hands on exam of the turtle. If it's SCUD, then the course of treatment is probably Baytril IM for 2 weeks. If it IS Baytril, make sure it's diluted with saline as it's highly irritating and can cause necrosis of the skin at the injection site. -- See - sort of makes the egg thing no big deal, huh?>
My husband swears we are getting ripped off and the vet made it up.
<No, SCUD (Septic cutaneous ulcerative disease) is very real. Ralphie needs to be warm and dry during the course of her treatment, so read here on "Isolation"
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  This will work in conjunction with the nesting box - now we have an all purpose place for Ralphie to nest, rest & heal.>
It cost me 90 bucks and hubby is now injecting an antibiotic every night into poor Ralph. If he's right I'll never hear the end of it.
<Awww don't worry. In time (say, about a week or so) he'll screw something up so this will be a forgotten incident.>
<Meanwhile - since Ralphie is now "High & Dry" for at least the next week and for best results 2 weeks. Take this opportunity to clean and sterilize her home: sterilize the tank by adding chlorine bleach. One cup per gallon of water [approx 75ml per liter] (not the size of your tank, but actual volume of water - including filters). Let the setup run for 24 hours, drain & rinse well with fresh water, then break it down and wash with soap (such as dish detergent). Fill again and run the setup for 24 hours, then drain, rinse and refill. This is why we run the setup with the filter and gravel and basking areas, etc. - every area the contaminated water could touch.>
Thank you as always for your help, Sara and Ralphie

Floating hatchling   11/22/10
Hi crew.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a question I have a little wild hatchling turtle that was given to me since I like and have two other water turtles (red eared slider and alligator snapping turtle).
<Just so you know the entire snapping turtle family will have no problem at all eating a slider at their earliest opportunity. Snapping turtles (Chelydra and Macroclemys) are two species that are always kept alone. They'll even eat each other>
I don't know what kind of water turtle it is just that it is indeed a water turtle. It was found outside very small even still had it's beak
<egg tooth>
-- to break the shell. I took it to a local pet store to try to find out some info on what kind it is and they told me to put it back but also said it would most likely die since it was born so late in the year and it is now cold.
<You're right in that regard>
I am an animal lover hence the two dogs, two cats, now three turtles and a gerbil that I am not just going to let it die without giving it a chance. It wouldn't eat for about a week or two which I read was normal for new hatchling.
He now does eat occasionally not daily but does eat.
<Nor should he eat every day. Turtles in captivity expend very little energy. At the most, feed a captive turtle all it can eat in 5 minutes, 4 times a week>
He seems healthy for the most part except he floats evenly not tilting to either side.
<That's normal .. so what do you mean by "healthy except" ??>
He is in a small plastic tub with heated and filtered water and I also have a UVB light on him.
<OK for now>
He can swim although not very well and I have never seen him go to the bottom and sit, occasionally he somehow manages to get himself upside down.
<The problem with shallow water is that they CAN get themselves upside down and don't have the water depth to easily turn over.>
What can cause the floating?
<Turtles can float. Not seeing the problem yet but I have a guess>
I did notice once when I cleaned the tank I accidentally made the water I'm guessing a little to warm (he started like panicking) but he didn't float.
Although he didn't care for the too warm water he sank like a normal turtle would. I am completely lost on this and why he floats with water 77 degrees but sank when it was warmer (I didn't take the temperature of the water but it felt a lot warmer than the normal). Any suggestions on what is wrong with the little fellow.
<Not yet - but 77 degrees is too warm for a typical water turtle. We'd like the water temp to be in the low 70's and the basking spot to be in the high 80's to low 90's so that the turtle can make his own choices about warm or cold.>
<Mary, can you please do this? Can you use a camera, even a cell phone camera, to take pictures of all three of your turtles and then email those to us? What I'd like is a picture from "almost" head first, meaning directly at the shoulder one from 4 feet away and one as close-up as you can get it without losing focus. If I can see pictures of all three turtles, I may have some answers and suggestions for you>

Attn: Neale - Aquatic Turtles, sexing, repro.    7/27/10
Hi, You told me I probably had sexed my turtles wrong due to the finger wiggling situation.
<I did indeed suggest you might have got them sexed back to front.>
OK, how do I know for sure which one is male and which one is female.
<Turn them over. Look at the tail area. On females, the combined urogenital opening, the cloaca, is near the end of the tail. The tail after this opening is usually short, less than the distance between the base of the tail and the cloaca (sometimes called the pre-cloacal length). Females usually have quite short tails overall. Males have the cloaca nearer the base of the tail, and the bit after the cloaca is usually about twice the distance between the base of the tail and the cloaca. The tail is usually much longer overall. I know this sounds complicated, but if you have two turtles next to each other, and they're the same species, it's usually pretty easy to tell one sex from the other.>
And...how do I tell if one of them gets pregnant?
<They don't; they lay eggs.>
How long is their pregnancy?
<Females will lay eggs within a few days of mating. HOWEVER, they sometimes lay their eggs even without mating. Although infertile, the females will try desperately to lay them in soft sand or coconut fibre, and if they can't do that retain the eggs in their bodies, leading to Egg Binding. This is a VERY serious problem that can kill female turtles.>
My large aquatic turtle is as big as a man's hand and the small one is only as big a golf ball. They were about the same size when we got them last September. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Attn: Neale 8/9/10

Hi again, OK, we followed your directions for sexing our aquatic turtles and think we have it right now.
I don't believe my female is carrying eggs now.
<Good. Does happen though, even with females kept alone, so do please keep your eyes open.>
We read a book on what to look for when carrying eggs and she doesn't have any of those symptoms yet. We'll watch for that but back to my original question emails ago, why does the male turtle do that finger wiggle thing at my female turtle?
<Why do builders whistle at passing women? It's just a way for the male to get some attention. I expect it's annoying. For what it's worth, females need to be fairly large to be sexually mature, and tend to be larger than
males of similar age. So if the female is small with a shell length of, say, less than 10 cm/4 inches, chances are she's immature. Male attention will simply annoy her.>
She's so much smaller than him, should I move her to a different tank?
<There's an argument for that. They don't need friends and do fine alone.
Also try making two basking spots so that they're not next to each other all the time.>
I do take them out of the big tank and feed them in smaller separate fish bowls. Thanks for all your knowledge!! Cliffie
<Good luck, Neale.>

Aquatic Turtles, repro. beh.  7/20/10
Why does my female aquatic turtle act like she wants to scratch the eyes out of my male aquatic turtle? She's larger than he is and she will get right in his face and wiggle her finger nails right toward his eyes. I'm afraid she's going to hurt him. Any information and help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
Thank You, Cliffie
<Hello Cliffie. Are you sure you sexed them right? The fingernail wiggling thing is usually done by the males to the females. There's no reason I can think of for a female to do it to a male! In any case, no, no harm is done.
The only thing to make sure of is that once the female is carrying eggs, you ensure she has a sand-filled tray somewhere for her to lay her eggs, otherwise egg-binding is a common, and potentially fatal, problem. Cheers,

Turtle mating ritual or dominance? 5/21/10
Hello Crew,
<Hiya! Darrel here>
April 14, two years ago, I found an Eastern Painted Turtle hatchling which I adopted. I have kept it in a bowl on my desk at work Mon. thru Friday, bringing him home with me on the weekends. This April, I set up a ten gallon aquarium for him/her at work, which he/she shares with a small crab (not me). Since it has been in its new home (two months), it has almost doubled in size. (Is this normal?)
<The crab?>
<No, you mean the Turtle, right?>
<Reptiles do not grow to the size of their enclosure, as is sometimes the case with fish, but what CAN happen is that a larger enclosure leads to more comfort, more activity and more eating, all of which lead to faster growth>
Last Friday (5/14) I found another Eastern Painted Turtle hatchling which I adopted. I have it in the bowl vacated by "Killer".
<Wow. What are the chances of that?>
Several self-proclaimed turtle experts (research vets) have told me that because both turtles are the same species, Killer would not harm "Ditto".
<Well, it's like this: The sliders, Cooters, Painteds & family are not combative or predatory upon each other. Generally they can live happily in families or even a colony. But with that said, individuals can get snappy at times and the rule I generally follow has two main components [1] Match them to relatively the same size (no hatchlings with grown adults because one little 'snap' from an adult female is 'hey! Where did my arm go?' to a hatchling) and [2] give the group a large enough environment so that individuals that don't get along can get away from each other. Not likely in a 10 gallon tank>
I have tried putting the hatchling in the larger tank for several hours each day and until this afternoon there were never any problems. Today, Killer started vibrating his/her claws on both sides of the baby, but without actually coming in contact with it. I put Ditto back into the smaller bowl and my search for info on the internet brought me to you. I found an answer from '06 'Mixing turtles' about mating rituals and an answer from '07 'Mixing older & younger turtles together' about the older turtle showing the younger one who is the boss. Is it possible that both answers apply (even though both turtles are Eastern Painted)? Does this mean Killer is a male? I know the larger tail and longer claw nails are distinctions, but I have nothing to compare against.
<Killer is probably a male, if for no other reason that he's exhibiting male behaviors. The thick tail thing is a subjective judgment, but the front claws are obvious: They either look like short nails barely extending beyond the hand or they extend OUT and are clearly long nails. Let's assume Killer is a male>
I can barely see the baby's claws at all. Does Killers response mean that the baby is a female? Will a larger female turtle show dominance the same way?
<No way WE can tell with a baby, as the sexual characteristics aren't visible on the outside until the turtle grows quite a bit. What Killer can tell that we don't know>
<This is my suggestion: Since we can't tell and don't care and Killer thinks she's a girl let's call Killer the expert in this situation and giver her a girl's name>
Any feedback would be appreciated.
<My secondary feedback is regarding the tank and the bowl -- proper nutrition, proper basking and especially UV lighting. All pretty much covered in this article:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Thanks for your time,
<Yer welcome>

Agitated African mud turtle 03/20/10
Hello -
<Hiya! Darrel here>
I have a female African mud turtle (Pelusios subniger). Her name is Ruby. I've attached a couple of pictures (I think she's the prettiest thing!). I've had her for 10 years, and, according to the information I received when I got her, that would make her about 25 to 30 years old now. Ruby has always been very healthy and hardy. She even survived a 7 hour plane trip without batting an eye when I moved from San Diego back to Connecticut..
<She is a cutie!>
Back in 2002 (I'd had her for two years then) she became very agitated. Kept trying to climb out of the tank, always digging, swimming.... so agitated. I was getting anxious since she was so anxious. I did some research online, but just couldn't find anything that described her symptoms. A few weeks after it started, I came home from work and found eggs on the bottom of her tank. They were all crushed by then, and, of course drowned. Now that I knew to look for eggs, I was suddenly able to find articles regarding her behavior. She was trying to find dry land in which to lay her eggs! She had never laid eggs before in the two years I had owned her, so I just didn't expect it. Afterwards, I took her to the vet for an X-ray since I had read that if turtles with eggs can't find dry land, they might retain an egg or two in the hopes of eventually finding dry land. And holding on to eggs might require surgery, and surgery is very bad for turtles. Luckily Ruby didn't have an egg on her. And she hasn't laid any eggs since that whole episode.
<Usually, when they can't find suitable nesting sites, they just drop them in the water, but it never hurts to check>
Now that whole thing, of course, has been kept in my mind, just waiting for it to happen again. I have found articles barely describing breeding, but none tell me outright if females kept alone will regularly produce eggs. If so, how often? Why did she suddenly produce eggs 2 years after I got her? Although, I did read the females of some species of turtle can hold on to sperm packets for up to two years, waiting for the right time to fertilize their eggs....could that have happened to Ruby? I have almost no idea of her history prior to my getting her from a reptile/aquarium shop in San Diego.
<She obviously was a party animal down in 'Diego, wasn't she? Sneaking out at night, maybe hopping the border (it would be easy for her to swim the river, after all) and be back before you work up. Clever girl!>
Anyway, it's been 8 years since that whole drama, and for the past 5 years she has been living in a well lit, well filtered, well warmed 210 gallon tank. She looks healthy as normal. She lives with guppies, glass shrimp, snails, sometimes crabs, sometimes mollies or other fishies - all are sources of both entertainment and nutrition for Ruby. She also has 3 tinfoil barbs and a gibbiceps as non-food companions (although I've seen her take half-hearted swipes at them on occasion).
<That is my #1 complaint with live fish-as-food for turtles. Forget the fact that they're usually not part of their diet anyway they rarely catch them and eventually you end up with the fish as pets! Complaint #2 is that feeder fish are very common carriers of parasites, but I'm not going to be a downer this morning>
She's almost exclusively carnivorous, but every now and then I'll also give her some banana plants - she really likes eating the roots. She (and her tank buddies) also get frozen shrimp, frozen blood worms, and live meal worms. I did try earth worms once - never again! What a mess! She snubs turtle sticks. She has a cave that serves as her underwater shelter as well as her sunning rock. She has rocks and fossils and things lying around for her to push and dig up and wedge herself under so she can take a snooze without floating to the surface. As far as I can tell, she's happy and healthy. (As an aside, the first 5 years I had her were under the same conditions, except she was just in a measly 55 gallon tank.) Okay, so that's her and her current living situation.
<Sounds like the care is great! The only think I watch for in the mud, musk & snapping turtles is that their caves/logs/snags are sufficiently big enough that there is no possibility of getting stuck & drowning>
Back to the questions.
So, it's been 8 years since that whole egg-laying business. This past week she has become all agitated again. In the fall and winter she does tend to semi-hibernate, not eating for days, snoozing under water for hours. And in the spring and summer, she does become active again, gorging on food, shedding her skin, growing another mm or two. But the activity this past week... it makes me think of eggs! She ISN'T trying to get out of her tank, so maybe I'm paranoid. But I've had her for 10 years - I know her behavior pretty well, and this is unusual. Her eating has also dropped off quite a bit. Not entirely, but usually when she's knocking around in the tank, it's to get some easy food handed to her (rather than hunting it herself). But she just watches the frozen shrimp sink to the bottom whenever I try to feed her. And actually, I've also noticed the guppy population is pretty strong at the moment. I haven't had to supplement them with fresh blood for a few weeks now (this time of year she usually decimates them, so I'm regularly buying new ones to keep the population up.) So. Right. Question. Should I be worried about eggs?
<Worried, no but help her out a bit: Get a plastic container (like a small-ish storage tub, fill it 1/4 full with vermiculite potting soil (not the horticultural type, just the regular potting soil) and put her in that and leave her for an hour or so. She'll wander around for a while, try to climb out, etc. but eventually she'll settle down and either burrow in (which is a fine way to spend an afternoon) or she may try to dig a few test holes. It's sort of hard to explain, but the difference between "get me out of here!" and "Hmm, can I nest here?" behaviors are pretty obvious.>
Should I even be worried about eggs, or was that a one-time fluke? And if it isn't eggs, what is up with Ruby? And if it is eggs, what is the best way to handle it?
<What you have appears to be nesting behavior, even if there's no nesting. The increased, wrestles activity combined with loss of appetite is the indicator. These behaviors are triggered by other events (the presence of males, seasonal temperature changes and/or day/night cycles, etc) and trigger the production of eggs (when possible) and the nesting behavior. It's possible (and common) to have the behaviors without the eggs and also possible to have infertile eggs, but that's less frequent.>
....Okay, well, I hope I haven't written so much you stopped reading somewhere in the second paragraph. I think the world of Ruby, and I hate it if I can't figure out what she's looking for.
<Probably just what we all look for Barb -- Good conversation, a nesting site and a decent Cheese Steak without having to go all the way to Philly>
Thanks so much for any help you can give me!!
<Yer welcome! Write back when you have more to tell>

turtle eggs   2/9/10
is it normal for a reeve's turtle to lay eggs as often as every few weeks?
<If kept with a male, then yes. When sexually mature, turtles and terrapins will mate once and then the female can store the sperm across a period of months or even years. Once the sperm is used up, she should stop laying
eggs, but that can be a while.>
we aren't interested in hatching them; we just want to be sure our turtle isn't stressing herself out.
<So long as she lays the eggs, and you keep her sufficiently well fed that she's in good health, it isn't something to worry about unduly. A calcium-rich diet will offset the calcium she uses to form the eggs.
Protein will make up for what she provisions as yolk within the eggs.>
also we think that she doesn't get them all out as she has two hard marble sized lumps at the base of her tail. is everything normal or should we be concerned & do something?
<Yes, be very concerned. Egg binding is common among females if they can't find a good nesting site. Some females will drop their eggs almost anywhere, even underwater, if they can't lay them, but in general female turtles need a sandy pit of some sort. If the eggs aren't laid because she can't find somewhere big and soft enough for them, she can end up egg-bound. This is painful, life-threatening, and requires veterinarian help. Typically, hormones are used to force egg laying, a bit like inducing labour. In fact the Oxytocin used is the same hormone used with pregnant women. In extreme cases, surgery is required. Egg-binding clogs the cloaca, restricting elimination of waste, and a rotting egg quickly becomes a focus for bacterial infection. It cannot be treated at home. Call your vet or animal welfare charity for help ASAP.>
thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Frequent turtle eggs   1/21/10
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
we acquired an approximately 7 yrs old Reeve's Turtle 4 months ago. She has laid 3 clutches of eggs so far! It seems to be once a month. First 6 eggs, then 4, now 5. She is mostly in the water with a basking platform so
the eggs are in the water. We dispose of them but are concerned that she is laying them so frequently! Is this normal? She has a cuttlebone that she chews on. Also, we are concerned that she might not be getting them all
out. Her backside on both sides of her tail feels hard like there's a marble on each side of the tail. Help! What should we be doing for her?
<Eileen, it's doubtful the eggs are fertile, but it's not out of the question. Make her a nesting box. Get an 18 gallon plastic tub from a building supply store and put a 50-50 mixture of potting soil and vermiculite in it. Try to get a depth of around 8 inches. Put a lamp of some sort (a regular incandescent lamp is fine) shining on one corner -- to
make it hotter than other places in the next box and place her in there.
You can leave her for a day and overnight and just peek in occasionally to see if she's digging and/or depositing. The chances aren't good and she's likely laid all the clutches she'll lay this season, but it's always a fun thing to try and to hope for. If you DO get eggs that haven't touched the water, this article will tell you how to incubate the eggs. Good luck.>

My turtle laid 4 eggs. how to take are of them????  11/22/09
<Hiya - Darrel again>
My Turtle is FAMILY: TRIONYCHIDAE (Softshell Turtles) Indian Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata andersoni).
<Another one?>
my turtle laid 4 eggs on 20th September 2009. so I 1st keep it rapped in towel & cotton cloth after 5 days. then I got sand from the river & put it the box , which I filled with moist river sand. what other things I need to take care of it? do I need sun, water, room, rooftop & what else location & things for it???
<Well, we have a link here for freshly laid turtle eggs>
< http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm>
it has been 3 months now how do I check the progress of my Turtle Eggs or they wont hatch now?
<But it's a little late for this care>
- 1st I kept them(in plastic box with river sand) in a Normal room with normal room temperature.
- Then later for 3 week I kept it on my roof top where it got direct sun light in morning & cold temperature at night(that might be same situation in its natural place/habitat right??)
- since last 2 weeks I brought it back to normal room temperature, because of extreme cold season at night & a lot of rains last 2-3 weeks.
<That's a lot of change and stress on the eggs, Rehan. My GUESS is that they're not fertile or they would have hatched by now -- HOWEVER, we have a saying "incubate until they go rotten" because stranger things have happened to eggs that did indeed hatch.>
<Unless the eggs look black or smell rotten, you have very little to lose by continuing to try. Treat them as stated in the article for 90 more days before giving up>
thanks in advance.

Turtle rearing 5/31/09
I had a Florida soft-shell turtle lay a clutch of eggs on the canal bank  behind my house. we have a lot of opossums and raccoons in the area plus tons of ant hills. I would like to bring the eggs in and keep them safe until they hatch then release the babies to the canal (I know natural selection continues on then as well).
<Would strongly suggest you leave the eggs where they are. Over the last couple hundred million years, turtles have evolved to be pretty good about finding "just right" places for nesting that balance heat, shelter, security, and moisture. In some places it may even be illegal to tamper with turtle nests, so do check this very carefully.>
can you help me with how I should go about doing this?
<Almost always, the best option is to leave them be, or perhaps use chicken wire to create a cage over the nest that keeps casual predators out. But that won't stop animals like raccoons that are good at digging, and obviously ants will get in no matter what. If you must move them, then the
two things to watch are the orientation of the eggs and the temperature of the incubator. Rolling the eggs can (will) kill them, while the wrong temperature will either kill the embryos or skew the sex ratio towards males or females.>
the eggs were laid about a week ago. is it too late to move them?
<Moving turtle eggs (and indeed reptile eggs generally) is extremely difficult because they must be kept the right way up at all times. Typically, scientists use a marker pen or soft pencil to mark an X on the top as the sand is removed, and then lift the eggs with the X upwards and into some type of egg box that keeps them that way up between the nest and the lab.>
will they have a better chance at maturation leaving them alone or should I go ahead and take them in?
<I'd perhaps get expert advice first. Since you're in St Lucie, try calling the Smithsonian Marine Station on Hutchinson Island; while they're mostly about marine stuff, there might be an ecologist on hand who could help advise on what you're planning to do. Failing that, if it really looks like the eggs are going to be dug up, then you have nothing to lose by moving the clutch of eggs yourself. You can either move them to a reptile egg incubator (typically a plastic dish filled with vermiculite warmed to around 25-30 C depending on the species being kept, in your case whatever local air temperature is should do) or else re-bury them into a similar, 15 cm deep sandy nest on your own property, protected with chicken wire as
best you can. The eggs hatch in about two months.>
and what do I need to do for them once I do.
<Until they hatch, you don't really need to do anything! Once hatched, these snappy little predators will consume small prey of all kinds, though earthworms are perhaps the ideal to begin with. Maintenance of Trionyx species more generally is freely available in the hobby literature.>
thank you, Ginny
Ginny Cornett
Hands for Paws
Port St. Lucie, FL
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: turtle rearing

thank you so much for the excellent advice.
<Happy to help.>
and I totally concur. I would only do it if there was a good reason for the turtles. my dad was all hot about me taking them in a hatching them - I tried to tell him it wasn't a good idea - but hearing it from you
convinced him! thanks!
I am looking into getting a weatherproof infrared motion-activated camera that I can set at the nest and turn on around the hatch date - now that would be cool! Ginny
<Sounds cool indeed. Good luck, Neale.>

Snapping turtle mating & comp.  1/25/09 Dear Crew, <Hiya Sucari, Darrel here tonight> I have a 2 year old 7 inch snapping turtle and, age unknown 5 inch Red Eared Slider in a 50 gallon tank. <Actually, what you have there is a tragedy just waiting to happen.> They lived in the same tank for about a year now with no problems they get along great. <Get along great? Tell jokes? Like the same movies? Enjoy lively political debate without crossing the line?> For about a month now I have noticed that they are trying to mate. I was wondering if I should have any concerns? <I sure would have concerns, Sucari. For one thing, these mixed relationships rarely work out. What would the neighbors think? What about the in-laws? And the kids? Red Eared Snappers? Snapping Sliders?????? And the kids! Think of the kids!!!! How sad to have a clutch of babies that swim into the pond to try to lay in wait to ambush a piece of river grass or hyacinth?> Thanks <OK, seriously, Sucari. All kidding aside, most turtles are very tolerant of dissimilar species. They don't compete for food, no mates to speak of and no territorial issues that really matter. Neither see each other as a threat. And I too have seen Sliders and Snappers and Soft Shelled turtles all kept together in relative harmony ... until that day when one of them is just GONE. Sliders are non specific scavenging herbivores and Snappers are ambush predators with very short tempers and an instinctive, vicious 'ambush' strike that pretty much destroys what it touches.> <This is not to say that all snappers are mean or evil, Sucari. My snapper, Biff, is mild tempered and easy to handle and he puts up with a LOT before he starts to show any signs of stress. But still, I never EVER forget that he is a wild animal with a tiny brain.> <My point ... if there is any chance it has escaped anyone so far ... is that everything will be just fine right up until JUST the moment that the snapper attacks and kills the slider. Will it ever happen? Maybe not. But how will you feel if it does?> <Please separate them as soon as possible> <Regards, Darrel>  

At what age do turtles mate? Will older turtles try to mate with babies? 10/16/08
<Hiya -- Darrel here tonight>
Here's my story.
<It's sad, but true - you met a girl named Runaround Sue?>
I have a 30 gallon tank with 3 turtles, one is a soft shell turtle about the size of a sand dollar or around 3 inches long from head to tail
<I like Softshells. When fed and otherwise cared for I find Trionyx to be fairly good citizens>
I also have 2 painted turtles; one is a hatchling barely bigger than a quarter but around 7 months old and the other is around 4 - 4 1/2 inches long head to tail.
<I like the Chrysemys too! (btw: in case you were wondering, no real reason to mention the softshell's or the painted's scientific names .... I'm just showing off!)>
I have seen the larger painted turtle act aggressively toward the hatchling, but after upping the amount of food it seemed to stop, but lately the larger turtle seems to be exhibiting mating behavior or what I think is similar to mating behavior according to what I've read. The larger turtle will chase it and go face to face with it and clap it's front feet together in front of the baby, really close to it. I've been trying to watch it closely to make sure it isn't biting it's face, but so far I haven't seen that.
<What you are saying is indeed mating behavior and the problem is that the turtles you have mature by SIZE .... not age.... so even if the Painted were the same age, the male would become interested in the female years before she could return his affection. The entire family of Emydids (there I go AGAIN - showing off!!!) are pretty much social and get along great in groups, but that is a generalization. If your particular male happens to have an aggressive attitude, then one bite is all it would take to kill the little one. Depending on the size and shape of your tank you could perhaps make a partition for the little one -- or get it it's own tank ... which opens the door to get 2 or 3 more to join it and that leads to a place that looks like mine (http://www.xupstart.com/wwm ) -- it's fun!>
Also, most of the stuff I've read says to feed turtles around 3-4 times per week, we've been feeding ours 2-3 times per day and they always seem hungry. They aren't growing very rapidly however, from what I've observed.
<Reptiles metabolize food relative to the amount of food, light and heat they have. You're feeding them WAY too much and at best they'll become obese and have health problems. 3-4 times week is MORE than enough. Really.>
There are a few minnows in the tank with them that the larger painted turtle will eat if I don't feed him daily.
<I feel your pain. I once tossed some feeder goldfish into my outside turtle pond and 6 years later they were so big they were picking on the adult turtles so they had to be put into the Koi pond. Fish and turtles just DON'T mix.>
The water is kept fairly warm, but I'm not using a heater and I only have a normal aquarium florescent light on the tank, but they seem very healthy and active.
<They need basking heat -- a 60 to 100 watt incandescent will do ... but the florescent needs to be a full spectrum bulb. Aquarium lights for fish aren't quite the same>
They have reptile sand, aquarium rocks, a filter, a bubbler and a floating dock in the tank.
<read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and respond!
<No problem, Shannon - just put me in your will!>

2 part question about turtles and identification   8/26/08
Dear Crew,
<Hiya -- Darrel here>
Ok, so this is a two part question, first what kind of turtle is this??
<Oh dear .. if I'd known there was going to be a test I'd have studied!!>
<When I first looked at the pictures my sense was that it was a Rhinoclemys (a South American Wood Turtle). When young their carapace (top shell) is fairly flat and somewhat resembling an Pseudemys (the slider families) and as they mature it becomes more domed like a Box Turtle (Terrapene). In this case, Google is your friend. Try Rhinoclemys T  Terrapene and reeves turtle and see what you think>
I got him from a lady who was not taking care of her and she gave her to me. After cleaning her up I put her in my 100gal tank with my RES who is a male (very long claws) who I have had for about a year, and is just a little smaller then the new turtle.
<Not sure the new kid on the block is an aquatic turtle though -- from most aspects it appears to be semi-aquatic at best and needs more dry land. Your identification from more comparison photos will tell all.>
The other day I noticed my RES vibrating his legs in her face, so he wants to mate with her, so if you know what kind of turtle this is, are they close enough for them to mate or is he barking up the wrong tree?
<Yes, in this case my guess is that you're shaving the wrong beard, to make a different metaphor>
thanks for your help!
<I'm also passing your pictures along to a more learned colleague for his opinion. Neale?>

2 part question... Turtle ID, cross-breeding?   -08/27/08 Ok, so this is a two part question, first what kind of turtle is this?? <I have absolutely no idea. The fact the shell is domed rather than flat implies its either an amphibious or fully terrestrial species rather than a truly aquatic species. The front feet appear to lack webbing, but the back feed are webbed, so again, I'd tend to go with some type of amphibious rather than truly aquatic species. I would be keeping this species in an enclosure with equal amounts of water and land, and I'd also make sure the water wasn't too deep. But I really think you need to get in touch with a dedicated Chelonian support/rehoming site such as Turtle Homes: http://www.turtlehomes.org/ They have contacts and resources for identifying "mystery" Chelonians.> I got him from a lady who was not taking care of her and she gave her to me. After cleaning her up I put her in my 100gal tank with my RES who is a male (very long claws) who I have had for about a year, and is just a little smaller then the new turtle. the other day I noticed my RES vibrating his legs in her face, so he wants to mate with her, so if you know what kind of turtle this is, are they close enough for them to mate or is he barking up the wrong tree? thanks for your help! <They are absolutely not the same species! Male Red-ear Sliders will attempt to mate with anything. So long as he isn't harassing her, I wouldn't worry too much. Cheers, Neale.>

River Cooter... eggs, ethics... beh.  - 6/20/08 Hello, I found a turtle laying eggs on my property in Floral City, Florida. I guess it was some type of river Cooter. I did not want to get to close and scare it away. I noticed that there were other nests with eggs shells around and I believe that something is eating them as this is a mostly uninhabited acre of land. In an effort to save the eggs I covered the nest with a open milk crate. I don't want to leave it too long. I don't know how long it will take for them to hatch. Do you have any suggestions for protecting them but still allowing them to get free once hatched. Thanks Melissa <Hi Melissa. There's two ways to handle this. You could either take a "big picture" approach, and let evolution handle things. Female turtles that aren't able to make good choice about nest site and nest depth need to have their genes removed from the gene pool. So protecting the eggs isn't doing the species any good in the long term. The other approach is to find out if the species in endangered, in which the loss of even a few clutches of eggs is a very bad thing. Your local Fish & Wildlife agency will be able to help here (being British, I can't admit to knowing anything useful about the freshwater turtle fauna of North America!). On the whole, turtles produce a lot of eggs because the eggs and juveniles are subject to high levels of predation; it's only the luck few turtles that get big enough to have a thick shell that live for decades, even 100+ years. Often collecting turtle eggs is prohibited (again, check with your Fish & Wildlife bureau) so removing a few and rearing them yourself isn't really an option. But if this species isn't so protected, as is likely the case with common freshwater turtles, then do read this excellent article at the World Chelonian Trust specific to the precise situation you're in: http://www.chelonia.org/Articles/Emergency%20Incubation%20Techniques.htm Good luck, Neale.>
Re: river Cooter   6/23/08
Neale, Thanks for your input. I guess I will just let nature take its course. I never really thought about it the way you explained the gene pool only about the poor cute little babies being eaten. But, I think its a good theory so I'll just watch the nest and see if she was smart enough. Thanks again Melissa <Often the safest and best approach where a species isn't endangered. But you may care to identify the turtle and figure out if it needs a bit of help from humanity. Or maybe even collect a couple of eggs to rear yourself as a pet project. Cheers, Neale.>

Sliders mating - 6/20/08 I have a pair of yellow belly sliders and they have started the mating ritual, please can you tell me what happens now and how to raise a successful clutch, I live in North Wales, U.K., Kind regards, Angie x <Hiya Angie, Darrel here today> <In response to your inquiry I wrote a web page this morning and hooked it onto my site. I'll try to get it linked to WWM soon with pictures, but in the mean time ... go here http://www.xupstart.com/wwm/  and the third line down Help! My turtle just laid eggs! should answer most of your questions. If not, please write back>

Re: Sliders Mating   6/23/08 hi, sorry to bother you again would an airing cupboard be ok? Kind regards, Angie <Hi Angie. The average UK airing cupboard won't be warm enough to rear the eggs of tropical/subtropical reptiles. (For everyone outside these fair islands, an airing cupboard is a closet built around the hot water storage tank, and is used to keep linen warm and dry.) You can of course test the maximum/minimum temperature of your airing cupboard using a standard max/min thermometer of the type used by many gardeners in their greenhouses. If it stays steadily warm, then fine. But chances are it won't be steady enough unless you have hot water 24/7, and even then you need quite a narrow temperature range for success. For Red-ear Sliders, you need to keep the eggs warm, at precisely 27 C if you want a mix of males and females, for anything up to 4 months. The only practical approach is to use an incubator, either purpose built or fabricated using a glass tank, under tank heater, and Vermiculite. Periodically you will need to spray the eggs so they stay moist but not wet. The eggs must never, EVER be turned over, and preferably hardly moved at all. Typically reptile breeders use a permanent marker to put an "x" on the top of the egg as laid by the female, and ensure that end is always upwards. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sliders Mating 06/23/08 Thank you for getting back to me so quickly but how do you make an incubator and where can I buy vermiculite? Kind regards, Angie <Angie, a basic incubator needn't be big -- a 5-10 gallon tank would be ample. You'd put a heating mat underneath the thing (you buy these from pet reptile stores, small ones cost about the same as an aquarium heater). The guy in the reptile store should be able to advise on what model will work well for your needs; in a centrally heated home, only a low wattage unit is likely to be required for this purpose. Fill the glass tank with coarse Vermiculite (bought at a garden centre, very cheap) to a depth sufficient to hold the eggs securely. Get a house plant sprayer from somewhere (again, cheap). Put a sticky plastic thermometer on the tank so you can check it stays at the right temperature. Too warm or too cold and you'll either get all of one sex, or worse, no turtles at all. That's it! Warm it up, pop in the eggs carefully, use the Vermiculite to stops the eggs rolling about, but don't cover them. Spray them periodically so the vermiculite stays moist but not wet. Put on a lid if you're worried they're drying out/cooling down too easily. Make sure there's good ventilation though -- fungus is very bad in humid, still air containers. Dead eggs will begin to smell quickly, and they should be removed as you go along. Minimum hatching time is about 2.5 months, maximum about 4 months, so in between that you should check them periodically for signs of movement. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Turtle Eggs in our Garden 6/16/08 hi this is Jessica <Hiya - this is Darrel> A little over two weeks ago I found a large turtle laying eggs in our garden. <Now how cool is THAT?????> I don't know what kind of turtle she was but she did leave behind two nests. She definitely left eggs in one of them but not sure about the other one it was covered when we found her. <Jessica -- take a look at this list and see if any of these turtles look familiar. Doesn't have to be an exact match, but see if you can pick something that looks close.> <http://www.lantera.com/wwm> I would like to know how long until the eggs will hatch? <It all depends, Jessica. When I collect a clutch of turtle or tortoise eggs, it's usually "90 degrees for 90 days" and most turtle or tortoise eggs will hatch -- IF they are fertile (not all eggs laid are fertile) and IF the ground is properly moist (but not wet) and depending on a lot of other things, too. Temperature dictates time. If a clutch that will hatch in 90 days at 90 degrees is incubated at only 87 degrees, barely 3 degrees lower, that 90 days becomes 118-125 days. In the wild (or in your garden) temperatures will be lower and will go up & down on different days, so there's no way to tell how long.> Is there anything to that I could do when they're hatched? I plan to let nature take it's course on if they all hatch or not but I would like to know a little about keeping one or more of the little guys? <See if you have go to the hardware store or building supply store and get what they call "hardware cloth." It's like screen only the squares are larger and it's a much stiffer material. Make a circle about two feet in diameter and about a foot or so tall. Dig a small trench around where each nest is and put the hardware cloth around it. Then take another piece and cover the top. You might need to devise some way to hold it into the ground. Sometimes I take a couple of long thin wooden dowels and place them through the sides of the cylinder like an 'X' laying on the ground and then put bricks on the outside ends of the dowels. This is to keep any nosey pets or wild animals from digging and it also will keep anything that hatches from wandering out.> <This is really all I have to tell you right now if you're going to leave the eggs in the ground. They might hatch this season, or next spring -- we'll just have to wait & see. If for some reason you decide to try to dig the eggs up and hatch them in the house or garage, that's a delicate & complicated thing and you'll have to write back and we'll talk about it> if you would like to have more information on what I know of them I will answer as best to my knowledge as I can. <Please keep us posted!> Thank you for your time! <you're MORE than welcome, Jessica, good luck!>

Yellow Belly-laying eggs 5/18/08 Hi, My female yellow belly has laid eggs for a few years now. However, she always lays them in the water. Does this mean that the eggs are infertile? <Well, they're dead anyway. To remain viable, they need to be laid on land, in warm, dry sand. Whether or not they were fertilized depends on the presence of a male of the species in your vivarium.> If I take them out as soon as I see them will this save them if in fact they a fertile? <Moving reptile eggs almost always kills them. If you want to rear hatchling turtles, you need to create a place the female can dig and lay her eggs, and then very carefully remove them to an incubator. The egg must not be rocked, rolled, or otherwise disturbed because this invariably kills the embryo.> and what can I do to get her to lay eggs on land? <She will look for a deep bed of warm, dry sand before laying them anywhere else. So provide that.> Thanks Michele <Good luck! Neale.>

Box Turtle Eggs  2/8/07 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a box turtle who is laying eggs and it looks like she is stepping on them. The turtles (male and female) are in a terrarium in the house. I just acquired them a few months ago and they were living in an apartment all their lives judging by their size they are probably 5 or 6 years old. I have one that's outside as well. I didn't want to take the chance of them getting sick with the cold weather. I'm going to put them outside in the spring. <Be sure the enclosure is well secured.  A fence dug deep is necessary to prevent them from escaping.  Recommend 2"deep & turned in 8".  Same for the walls--they can climb, so turn in the top of the walls 8" also.  Chicken wire works well.> I found the first egg Thursday evening on the 1st of Feb., the second on Tues. the 6th an another one yesterday. I have them separated in the vermiculite, moist like all the site say. The moisture level is at 80. I check it regularly. It's after she has it before I see it when she steps on it. Maybe she's not stepping on it but that's what it looks like. It's right in the middle of the egg. Is there a chance that they are ok?  The first one was fine. <I have seen eggs with a side that is concave.  Should be alright with some moisture. Keep them moist but not wet. Box turtle eggs are temperature-dependent.  The incubation temperature should be 84°-86°F if female offspring are desired, keeping the temperature around 72°F will produce males. Lower 80s might produce some of both.  To tell if the eggs are fertile, within a few days the yolk should settle to the bottom part of the egg. Within 10 days to 2 weeks you should see veining in the eggs if you candle them with a pen light or flashlight in a dark room. If everything works out you'll have young'uns in about 60 days. Once hatched, the hatchlings will require the same care as the parents except for feeding. They will need a higher proportion of insects and other carnivorous foods in their diet. It is best not to house the parents with the hatchlings.> How long will she lay eggs? I thought I read 24-48 hours? Can you give me more info? I've never done this before. <For more info: http://turtle_tails.tripod.com/raisingbabyturtles/tour8.htm Good luck with your turtle breeding.  Baby box turtles are the cutest!!!  ~PP> Thanks for you help, Jennifer Wollard

Eastern painted turtles repro, behaviour  - 1/31/08 I have two eastern painted turtles in a 20 gallon tank with all the necessary apparatus. They are definitely opposite sex. The female is approximately four years old and the male is three years old. The female is about 4" and the male is half that size. Problem: They have been together about three years. In the last year or so when I go to feed them the male becomes aggressive, attacking the female and biting her head, pulling her under water. Once he sees the food floating on the top he leaves her alone and begins to eat. He does not do this to her any other time but feeding time. Should I separate them? Do turtles prefer to be with others or along? If it ok to keep them together how should I set it up for them to reproduce this spring? Thanks for your help Carol <Carol, unfortunately it is quite common for male turtles/terrapins to become snappy towards one another and towards females. There's no real fix as such. About the best you can do is put them in an enclosure that has two (rather than one) islands so that they can rest and bask separately. Turtles are not really social animals, and they can be kept perfectly well on their own. In fact in a vivarium as small as 20 gallon (far too small for them, really) I don't think you will be able to keep more than one specimen permanently. If you want to breed these animals, you will need something bigger than a 20 gallon tank. At the ages your turtles are, they are both sexually mature, and will breed readily given the chance. A big problem with females is egg-binding, which happens when the female cannot drop her eggs. Precisely why this happens is a complex issue, but you should be aware that a sexually mature female that is trying to dig or climb out of the tank is likely wanting to lay eggs, especially is she looks swollen. Egg-binding is an issue that needs vet help. Anyway, mating is obvious, with the male mounting the female and (simply put) seeming to scratch her eyes out with his front flippers. Eggs are laid a few weeks later. The female will lay the eggs in a fairly deep pit of some sort containing a mix of sand and coconut fibre. Incubating the eggs requires that they be kept warm (around 25 C) and very, VERY still. Hatching takes a couple of months. Few people breed turtles in captivity, but it is certainly do-able. Cheers, Neale.>

Pregnant Turtle??  8/20/07 I have 4 turtles currently living together...3 yellow bellied sliders and 1 red-eared slider. I have raised them all since they were the size of a quarter! I have 2 males and 2 females. They have been doing courtship behaviors for years, but I have never once seen an egg. They are all in a 55 gallon aquarium with mega filtering, and heating. I know its small but, its temporary. They have all been living comfortably for years, so I do not understand what is wrong. <UM, if they've been living comfortable for "years" then ... what is your definition of "temporary"?> About a week ago, my largest female yellow bellied slider and my largest male yellow bellied slider, both nearing 5 years of age, began mating behaviors. Now, my female slider is acting sluggish. She sleeps for long periods of time as if she is hibernating. She keeps her tail tightly tucked in, and sometimes shields it with her feet. The male turtle is constantly bugging her and continues to swim on top of her, biting her on the neck or feet when she comes up for air. She still has an appetite, but stays away from the other turtles until dinner time. She does not seem sick. Her eyes are clear, her breathing is normal, and she is very active around dinner time. But, she seems so tired and sluggish that I am afraid she is sick. <She's probably not sick, she's depressed. Male sliders (in fact, all the Pseudemys) reach sexual maturity many years before the females because it's based their size and it's not uncommon at all for the females to be bugged and harassed by the males. When the females can't get far enough away, they can begin to act as you are describing.> I thought she was pregnant so I separated her from the other turtles and put her in a nice little environment but nothing happened. She just crawled around for a little while and slept the rest of the time. Now I put her in there to give her a break from the harassment of the other turtles. Also, the male turtles both have actually been seen dropping their you know what's! <You're doing the right thing -- a 55 gallon tank simply isn't enough room for that many ... um .... active turtles. My suggestion is to put the MALES in another enclosure temporarily, maybe putting them back in just for feeding, and give her a couple of weeks to come out of her shell (to make a pun!)> The only turtle acting normally is my younger female yellow bellied slider. What is wrong with my turtles!? <I don't think she's pregnant (technical term 'gravid') she just sounds grumpy.>

A Turtle gave us some eggs! 5/25/07 Hi, <hi> I live in Louisiana, last night a turtle laid eggs in our back yard. <that's a neat thing to witness, isn't it?> She covered them and left.  Will she return?   <No, Michelle, she's done her job.  Normally Nature would take it's course from here on> Do the eggs need care?  It's very warm here but I am concerned that they will get enough moisture or be harmed. Please help. <There are three choices, Michelle. (1) Do nothing and let nature take it's course, knowing that not all egg clutches hatch and even then not all babies dig their way out  (2) Take some hardware cloth or chicken wire and make a cylinder (and top) around the egg site to protect them from predators like raccoons, possums, dogs, cats & kids and then wait until nature takes it's course.  (3) Dig the eggs up and incubate them.  Steps 1 and 2 are self explained, so here goes number 3: Buy a bag of Vermiculite from your local home supply store and a small plastic container (like Tupperware) about as big as a shoebox.  Poke some holes in the too of the container -- use a screwdriver or scissors -- about 6 holes will do.  Mix the vermiculite 1/2 and 1/2 with slightly warm water.  This means 1/2 and 1/2 by weight, not by volume.  We don't want MUD ... just moist potting soil.  Place about a 1 or 1 1/2 inch layer in the bottom of the plastic container.  Now comes the fun part -- dig the eggs up.   You have to be REALLY careful doing this for two reasons -- first, you can break the eggs -- so after you dig down a little bit you need to use something like a brush to wipe away the dirt or use your fingers really carefully (this is a lot like dinosaur fossil hunting like in Jurassic Park:  careful, careful, careful!).  Second, unlike bird eggs, once a reptile lays the eggs, you have to keep the UP end facing UP -- never rotate them.   Some people put a pencil mark on the top part just as they take them out ... but I just treat each one like ... well, like an egg ... and I never take my eyes off of it from the time I take it out of the hole until I place it in the plastic container ... always keeping the end that was UP ... up!  Place them gently in the vermiculite ... 1 inch apart and around 3/4 down into it.  When all the eggs are in place ... put the lid on gently and place the container somewhere that will stay warm ... like your garage -- but on an out of the way shelf where they can be left alone.  Try to find a place that doesn't get jarred by door slams or vibrations, all of which are bad for the eggs.  Now, just wait somewhere around 90 to 120 days (depending on the temperature) and maybe you'll be a turtle mom!> Thanks, Michelle <lets us know how it turns out, OK>

Re: Turtle repro.... Where are the eggs? - 6/25/07 Darrel, you are such a gem. <Yes, I am ... and you show a tremendous sense of taste and style for noticing!> By the way, I believe that we have met once, a few years ago, at a herp convention in Valley Forge. <There are two reasons this is unlikely. The lesser of the two is that I've never been to Valley Forge and the greater being that, for better or worse, I'm not the sort one "believes" they've met -- if we've met in person, you KNOW it .. and even with drugs and years of therapy you never forget -- just ask my ex wife!> I'll let you know if we find anything after our second dig. <Happy Spelunking!> This turtle is indeed young, only about 5 years old, and she was raised in captivity (bought illegally as a baby in N.Y.C. Chinatown) and given to us a few summers ago, when she had outgrown her aquarium. Her name had been George up until we got her. <My entire current herd of Sliders and Cooters are the progeny of tiny babies obtained essentially the same way> Our male Red Eared Slider immediately began to court her. He didn't seem to succeed until last summer, <Turtles generally attain sexual maturity by SIZE rather than age, so captive males often spend a few years "waiting" for their female cage mates to catch up. In slow growing species, like the pair of Map Turtles I have ... the male spends almost a decade in utter frustration while the young female seems to spend that same amount of time totally annoyed with him.> and we began to make preparations for an expectant Georgia to lay her eggs then. I am fairly certain that this first clutch will have been fertilized. <as we speak, I'm watching a pod of Spur Thigh Tortoises (G. sulcata) poking their heads out of eggs in my incubator -- a wonderful and fun time awaits you next year!> Many thanks again. Elisa <Yer welcome, Darrel>

Re: We found the eggs! - 06/27/07 Dear Darrel! <Yes, Ma'am?> We found them!! <she's talking about Red Eared Slider Eggs, folks! Amazing how DEEP they were, huh?> See photos! <How cool!> I think the gentleman I met spelled his name Darryl and misspelled just about everything else, therefore, I was certainly mistaken! (He was from an old mailing list about turtles to which I no longer subscribe). <It's OK, Elisa -- all that matters is that you have the correct "Darrel" now!> And by the way, my husband is the one who misspelled "tutle" on the attachments. <Heh Heh .... silly goose> On to study all the internet has to offer on incubation. If you have any incubation and/or Red Eared Slider hatchling care sheets already prepared, please send. <Why yes, I do. Get a plastic container from your local building supply or hardware store about the size of a shoe box. Buy a bag of Vermiculite at the nursery department. Mix a batch of warm water & vermiculite 50-50 BY WEIGHT (see below) and fill the shoe box container 1/2 full. Place the eggs in the container in EXACTLY the orientation that they were when you found them (Turning reptile eggs can be deadly to the embryos - but if you didn't know that and you've already turned them, don't sweat it .. just don't add any MORE changes). After placing the eggs gently in the container, fill the rest of the container with your vermiculite & water mix until the tips of the eggs are barely sticking out. While you're doing this, Ron should poke about 6 small holes in the top of the container and have it ready to snap (gently) in place when you're done nesting. Now ..... 90 degrees for 90 days. At 80 degrees ... up to 240 days (all times approximate, your times can and will vary) If you have an incubator that's great. If not, a high shelf in your garage where it stays kind of warm all summer will do just fine. But this is important -- vibration from slamming doors or dresser drawers can damage and destroy the embryos ... so you want some place out of the way. That's all you "have" to do. Now ... what *I* do?? About 45 days into the cycle, I'll prepare fresh vermiculite in another shoe box and I'll gently uncover and transplant the eggs -- making sure to preserve orientation. I do this to preserve the moisture content and that helps the eggs develop.> A very excited Elisa and Ron <Congratulations, Darrel> <50-50 by weight!!! 2 cups of Vermiculite and 2 cups of water would make MUD that would drown the eggs. The easy way is to put a plastic pitcher on an electronic kitchen food scale, zero out the scale after the pitcher is in place and then fill it with vermiculite and then record the weight. After dumping that into a clean mixing pail, replace the pitcher and fill with water to the same weight. No Scale? No problem!!! Place a ruler flat on top of a pencil laying on the counter. Place a drinking glass filled with Vermiculite carefully on one end of the ruler and an empty (identical) drinking glass on the other end of the ruler. Make sure the pencil (the fulcrum) is centered ... then fill the empty glass with water until ... the home made scale starts to balance! Yes, you'll have to sort of hold the glasses in place and no, your measuring won't be as accurate as a scale ... but it WILL BE more accurate than really matters .... FAR more accurate than Nature herself. Then, once you know the water level in the glass to equal one glass full of vermiculite, you can repeat this until you have a full mixing pail.>

A Mystery turtle and some turtle help, fdg. young    5/24/07 Hello,    I'm Jessie. <Nice to meet you Jessie, I'm Darrel> Recently, my mother found a baby turtle roaming around while at work. So she brought it home (mainly because our family has a need to care for animals... and it was cute). It's a bit larger than a quarter and has intricate yellow markings. These markings include 2 swirls near the back of its shell and black spots on the underside of the shell (these are just main markings I'm trying to point out it has yellow stripes everywhere). The spots are on the underside of the rim of the shell, other than that it has an all yellow underbelly. Oh, an it has this little ridge on its back. Now I've been doing research, and I think that it is a baby River Cooter. <That what I was thinking, too.> She found this turtle kind of out of its area. You see, it says that this turtle lives in the northern part of Florida, but we live in Sarasota.  I'd be happy to send pictures of it... when my dad comes home with the camera. <many different cooters live in Florida, Jessie and I'd guess this one lives in your area.  You don't have to send pictures> I HAVE been trying to find out what I could about Florida turtles and about baby river cooters. Unfortunately, I find myself in a very difficult situation. 1. I don't know how old it is so I don't know if its still using the yolk for food. <I doubt that it is, so it's time to start feeding it> 2. I am lacking the foods that the sites I have visited suggest feeding to this turtle (cut up minnows or lettuce) <a small cotter would like Koi pellets that are available cheaply at your local pet store> 3. I'm not completely sure if this turtle will be a permanent pet. Seeing a show it's a baby, it's cute, we love animals, and my Dad seems to have taken an interest in it, I'm guessing it will be. <let's hope so!  They make fun and interesting pets> Can anyone help me? And or does anyone have suggestions? <first, make sure it has a place to get wet and a place to get dry and warm and is safe from any other animals like dogs or cats.  They like sunshine, but direct Florida sunshine can get that little guy overheated quickly, so never leave him alone out under the sun.  Here is a link to a care sheet that will tell you a lot more  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm  Good luck to you, Jessie, and thank you for writing us!>

Tough Love Is Needed When Feeding Turtles  - 04/20/07 When feeding my hatchlings in their feeding tank I put assorted food in their feeding tank (pellets, shrimp, krill, and micro size pellets for hatchlings), in the tank they live in I put red and romaine lettuce for them to munch on as well as a cucumber slice every few days which they love. The problem is that since I introduced the shrimp and krill about 4 weeks ago both hatchlings have stopped eating all the pellets and only eat the shrimp and krill. I just read on another website that this is not a healthy diet and the shrimp and krill should only be a treat - how can I get them back onto pellets? I tried today to get them to eat the pellets and they wouldn't - I weakened when they seemed to be begging for the shrimp and I gave in and gave them some! Help... how do I break the cycle and get them back on a healthy cycle? I'm also afraid I am overfeeding my larger turtle's shell is definitely pyramiding and the smaller one's shell is starting to pyramid - I want to stop it now before I cause too much damage. Thanks Jen <Your turtles have you well trained. Larger turtles need more vegetable matter in their diet. Too much protein makes their shells very hard and thick. As the turtle grows the shells stops growing and the turtles are trapped in their own straight jacket. I have seen turtles suffer this slow death before. Once you see it you never forget it. Hatchlings really need a varied diet to get all the vitamins and minerals they need. They can get imprinted on shrimp and never eat anything else again. Do not feed your turtles anything for three days. Offer the hatchling turtle food for 5 minutes. Remove any food after 5 minutes. Next day do the same thing. Eventually they will start to eat the pellets. Feed the pellets for a week before offering anything else.-Chuck>

Turtle Laying Eggs 4/13/07 I have read some of the cached links. But I still need much more info, please. How does one create a sand laying area in a tank? < Divide the tank, place a combination of 50% sand and 50% peat moss in the dry area.> Or if I am able to create an area in the yard this summer then how do I transition them back to an aquarium for winter if this is what is to be done? < When the air temp highs get below 65 F then bring them back inside for the winter.> And what do I do IF I am able to see the eggs in the water before they are eaten? <They are probably no good and need to be discarded.> Please tell me or refer me to a site that tells me what the outside area should be like and what I do with the eggs in the water? < Do a Google search on the California Turtle and Tortoise Club Website for the info you need.> I have raised my 2 females and 1 male since they were half dollar size and the girls are now 10" long and 9" wide, weighing about 2 lbs each, my male is half their size. I use a Cascade 1000 canister filter and considering putting the in-tank pump back in also. The turtles are in a 55 gal wide with 1 large Zoomed basking platform. Which only holds 1 girl and the male on top. There is about 40 gal of water. They have lived here since babies and eat feeder fish, turtle pellets, crickets, and large worms. For the last week they have not had a light coz the clip lamp wore out and I couldn't find one with a goose neck strong enough to not fall in the water. So I went to the pet store and spent the money for one there but it really is not strong enough either. I see in this time one of my girls has acquired a yellowish rough spot on her neck skin. Could you give me some info on this too? < Could be shedding, if not a bacterial infection.> It was not there a week ago. They are both growing again. Well the shells are losing scutes this time. I love my turtles and want to make their living quarters as desirable as possible for all seasons. Do you think I might have enough room in the tank for a second basking platform? < Conditions are tight any additional room would be a benefit.> Should I put a sulfa block in the tank? < With the irritation and temporary lack of proper lighting the Sulpha Block may be a good idea.> Thank you for listening this is the first place I have found that I was actually able to write to someone for help. I have had concerns for some time but not able to find the info I want. Please don't hesitate to email me. If you don't email directly with the info where do I find your response? < On the WWM website for all to see.-Chuck> I am very very excited to get some info. Thank you again in advance for your response.  Dee

Keeping, Feeding, Sexing Map Turtles  3/28/07 Hi there. We have two Mississippi Map Turtles that we bought as hatchlings in November of last year (2006).  My first question relates to how much we should be feeding them.  We have two different types of pellets but haven't managed to get a definitive answer of roughly how many we should be feeding them so we have no idea if we are massively over/under feeding them.  At the moment we feed them every day and give them approx. 8 pellets each - they gobble these down in a few seconds which makes us think they need more but I'm sure I remember being told that they should only have a few each?  I'm very worried as I read somewhere that if you over-feed them, their shells can crack which we obviously don't want to risk happening. The pot says to feed them as many as they will eat in five min.s but with our two that would be LOADS - is that right?!  We have tried them with other food as well as the pellets but they don't seem to be very interested - they will occasionally eat freeze dried shrimp but won't touch live river shrimp or most other things. < Feed your turtles three to four times a week. Keep feeding them until their appetite starts to slow down indicating that they are getting full. Then remove all the uneaten food. When they are hungry again they will be very active and searching for food. this is a sign that they are hungry and can now be fed again. try the new foods after not feeding them for a few days. Hungry turtles will try anything. Hatchling turtle food is best with treats of washed earthworms and insects.> My second question relates to the sex of the two turtles.  At what age should we be able to tell what sex they are? < At about 4 inches you should be able to se some of the different sexual characteristics.> I know the females will eventually be bigger but when would we notice a big difference between them if they were different sexes?  One has always been larger than the other but we don't know if that is just "one of those things".  Also, please could you tell me any other signs that will enable us to tell them apart and at what age we should be able to notice them? Many thanks. Adele Davis <When two turtles are kept together one always seems to be dominant and get most of the food. This dominant turtle always seems to grow faster regardless of the sex. This can make determining of the sexes difficult for a while, but eventually the female will grow larger that the male.-Chuck>

Different Species Of Turtles Trying To Mate   3/27/07 Hello !I am hoping you can help me.  2 years ago I found a painted turtle  and have been taking care of him with no problems.  My daughter thought it might be nice to get him a "friend" so we picked up a  baby map turtle.  We have had them together for  about 5 months now and they  seem to be ok together...I do however feel they get a little rough once in a while. Anyway, my question is this...  He seems to be trying to mate with the new turtle a lot . How do I know if she has become pregnant??  and is it dangerous if I don't know that she is and do nothing??  What do I do for her  once I know that she is?  I have a 30 gallon tank  with a basking rock and gravel . and some plants  but nothing else.....am I doing  anything wrong ?? please help    thanks    Susan < Your situation is a standard case for people who try to get their turtle "friends". In the wild turtles look upon other turtles as competition and try to chase them away from their territory. You have now two different species that don't get along. Now that it is spring the hormones are raging and the male turtles are trying to breed. It may be breeding or it just may be a territorial situation. I doubt a female would allow a different species to mate with her despite the male's advances. The new turtle may still be gravid from a previous mating in the wild and have nothing to do with this situation. If the female is pregnant then in a few weeks she will be digging a nest in the sand/gravel to lay her eggs. Unless you plan on getting an incubator I would recommend that you throw the eggs away before they rot.-Chuck>

Crossing Turtles  - 03/02/07 Hi there! I have a yellow-belly slider about 4 long in an outdoor FL pond 125 gal, though the center is taken up by a huge basking rock.  Theres also a couple feet of fenced area around 2 sides of the pond for them (dug down about a foot & curves inward a few inches at the bottom). I was given a RES today thats only slightly smaller than my yellow about 3.5 - and as his tail & claws are MUCH larger than my yellow Im assuming the yellow is a female & the RES is a male.  (I cant really tell by the bottom shell the RES may be slightly concave or just my imaginationthey yellow looks flat or even bowed out a bit by the tail)  If so, is it possible these 2 will produce hatchlings?  If they do, what would the babies be called slider mixes? < It is possible for your turtles to cross. Not sure what the baby turtles would be called.> I know color fades with age & this RES is much paler than other young, smaller ones Ive seen kinda a drab olive color - does that mean hes near adult or adult sized? < Older turtles are usually more drab than the brightly colored hatchlings.> How big would a female need to be to breed? < Around 4 inches.> I have no idea how old she is bought her several months ago & shes grown fairly quickly since then. Last question: the area around the pond is sandy, pebbly soil covered with a couple inches of topsoil.  The topsoil tends to become quite firm and it seems it would be hard for the female to dig a nest in it.  Do you think Id have to change it for a successful nest? < Sandy soils are best for incubating eggs. The sandier the soil the better the chances of hatching. Your soil does not sound very good.> Would I still be able to water the plants in the turtle run if there is a nest? < Excess water can drown turtle eggs. A light watering every day would be better than a deep soaking once a week.-Chuck> Thanks in advance for the great site & helpful info! Tamara

Sexing Yellow Bellied Sliders  2/25/07 Hi.  I recently purchased a yellow-bellied slider. I'm not really sure how old it is, but it's about 2-3 inches.  I am looking to determine the sex of the turtle.  I've read that you said males will have longer claws and tails, while females' will be shorter.  But, I have only one turtle so I can't compare a male and a female.  So is there another way I can determine the sex of the turtle?   -Thanks < Males may have very long front claws. Almost to the point to where they look like they will get in the way. The females nails are usually in the same proportion to the claws as the younger turtles. A male will have a very long tail. Once again the tail will grow out of proportion to the rest of the turtle while a female turtle's tail will seem the same as a young turtle.-Chuck>

Turtles Mating    12/9/06 My son has two painted turtles in a 55 gallon tank. We have proper filtration and UV lighting. The larger one has a shell length of around 4", the smaller one around 3.5". I believe they are both female since they both have flat bottoms. We have had them for over two years and they seem to get along well. They both share the basking area at times comically with one on top of the other. I started noticing that the larger one sometimes approaches the smaller one and extends her front legs and shakes them at the smaller one. In fact I believe she injured the smaller one's eye with her claws. I placed the injured turtle in a separate tank with a sulfa block, then treated the eye with Terramycin. They were separated about two weeks. I just placed the smaller one back in the tank and the larger one immediately started up with the leg shaking. But now the smaller one seems to be the aggressor and is going for the larger one. The smaller one looks as it is trying to mate with the larger one because it keeps coming around the other one's back and trying to climb on it. Currently the tank has no land area except for the basking spots which are just piles of slate. Any ideas on what is going on and more importantly what should I do. Thanks < Male turtles tend to be smaller and have longer front claws and a longer tail. It is possible that you have a pair and they are now getting old enough to breed. Painted turtles are not as aggressive as red eared sliders so I would let the water cool down and the aggression should cool down too. If you want to breed them then in a few weeks you will need an area with damp sand for the female to come out of the water and lay her eggs.-Chuck>

Turtle nipping other turtle feet, Turtles Trying To Mate   12/3/06 Okay, here is the scenario, we have 4 turtles in a 125 gal. tank with all the proper set up, (i.e. UV basking lamp & dock, Fluval 404,heater,etc.).1 musk or mud turtle,1 yellow belly NW pond turtle, 1 painted, and 1 Red-eared slider who is presumably female and larger than all the others. They are all healthy, eat well, etc. until recently the painted and NW pond have begun relentlessly pursuing the RES and nipping at her rear feet. They have even made some bite marks and the RES is trying to swim around with her rear legs tucked in. She is larger than both of them, why doesn't she fight back? Is this a seasonal thing? Like maybe she is in season and they are nasty little boys looking for action? What can I do about this behavior? There is no dirt or nesting material in this set-up, so if she is in season will she need an area to lay eggs? We don't need her to reproduce, but does she need to? Do I have to separate her? If so, for how long? Should I treat the small nip wound on her, and with what? I hope that this too shall pass as this set-up is nicely done and we have hopes of building an indoor pond for them, and our hatchling size turtles when they are larger, to cohabitate with each other. < In the wild turtles view each other as competition. They stay away from each other and only come together to mate. In the aquarium they are all forced to get along. If their is only one female then the other males in the tank will mate with whatever female is available. Try cooling the water temp down to the low to mid 60's. You may have it too warm for them. Cooling it down will slow their metabolic rate and take them out of the breeding temps.-Chuck>

Infertile Turtle Eggs  - 06/07/2006 I have two red ear sliders that I have had for almost 7 years.  For the past few years around this time of the year I have noticed eggs in the pond, but by the time I see them they have been eaten by my turtles and all that is left is the shells.  I thought both of them were females so I don't know if the eggs are infertile or I was wrong about the sex of the turtles.  Is there a way to determine if the eggs are fertile or not?  Thanks, Laura <If the eggs were fertile the female(s) would probably be laying them on land and burying them when they were done. Females have short stubby front claws and a short tail. Males have rather elongated front claws and a much longer tail. Infertile eggs go rotten pretty quickly in the summer heat but you can't really tell right after they are laid.-Chuck>

Breeding Wood Turtles  - 05/22/2006 Hi. My name is Celia, I am twelve years old. On Christmas of 2003, I got a north American wood turtle and she was about 7 months old (just born the spring before). I got another turtle in 2005 for her because we wanted her to hopefully have a companion to mate with. Unfortunately the newer turtle died and we quickly got another one so that Woody (my older turtle from 2003) would not get lonely and sad. Now it is 2005, this new turtle is a year old and doing so great! We are so happy! They seemed a little annoyed with each other at first but quickly warmed up. They would get near each other and were not afraid. The younger, newer one (Corky) is about half the size of Woody though (Corky - Male Woody - Female). But Corky isn't afraid to climb on Woody and show her who is boss. Because of their extremely sweet behavior towards each other I don't know if they are gonna mate when I'm at school or asleep so I won't be prepared. The man I bought the turtles from says that they will mate in about three or four years, but from what I have read I don't think that is true for every turtle. My turtles are about the same age, maybe eight or so months apart, but they are both about two or three years old. So does the age difference or the size matter? <The turtles actually need to be old enough. Because of food and temperatures you turtles could be considered large for their age and still not be old enough to breed.> Would it keep them from mating if they wanted to? < If the turtles are actually close enough in size then you may see some mating activity in the late spring and early summer. Probably in the morning after they warm up.-Chuck> It would help very much if you could help me so that I am prepared when it happens, Thank You, Celia.

Woodland Turtle Laying Eggs   5/15/06 My daughter was given a jeweled woodland turtle for her  birthday. We do not know how old this turtle is.  This morning when she woke she discovered a what looks like an egg in the tank.  Now do you know if this a good or bad one? < It is probably a bad one now.> Do I need to remove this from the tank? < Yes or it will rot and pollute the tank.> Any help you can give me, I would be grateful. Thanks Juli < Woodland turtles are semi aquatic and need an area of dry land as well as water. Turtles will dig a pit in the sand and lay their eggs. The eggs will then be buried with no further care by the mother.-Chuck>

Found Turtle Eggs  - 04/19/2006 Hi I was just wondering if by any chance you could send me some pictures of turtle breeds and what their eggs look like. <Most turtle eggs look alike so a photo really would not be much help.> See my boy friend found some eggs this weekend while we were at the river. They were in a hole in like a cliff type deal along the river. They were  about 5 feet from the rivers edge. The hole that they were in was horizontal.   They weren't fully covered and there was about 8 there from what we could tell.   My boyfriend pulled out about 3 and one went further back and another was empty on a small ledge below where the other eggs were. I've got 2 of the eggs at home  in a small incubator, the heat isn't too much though. The eggs are about an inch  in length and about a 1/2 inch in width and is all white. The shell isn't too  thick because when we held it up to the sun we could see straight through it. Please help me out, I don't want to be hatching something out if it's going to be something poisonous, you  know. Thank You, Sosha Marie < The nest you describe is consistent with descriptions of a turtle nest. Snakes and lizards usually lay eggs under rocks and logs. Chances are the female was chased away while laying the eggs or else a predator uncovered the nest. Turtle eggs can be moved in the first 24 hours with out too much danger of hurting them. After that the egg yolk attaches to the side of the shell. If the egg is moved it tears the egg yolk from the shell and can kill the egg. Keep them moist between 75 and 85  F and see if they hatch after a couple of months.-Chuck> <<Editor's note:  PLEASE do not take ANYTHING from its natural habitat if you don't know how to care for it, let alone if you don't know what it even IS....  -SCF>>
Turtles Laying Eggs  - 04/19/06
Is the mating season for females before or after she lays eggs? Also is it better to get just one turtle as a pet or do they want a friend with them? Thanks, Stephanie < Turtles actually do best by themselves and don't really get lonely. Turtles usually mate before the eggs are laid but may still breed and lay an additional clutch later if they are in good shape.-Chuck>

Turtle Eggs  - 04/19/06 Hello!  My house mates and I recently acquired 3 turtles.  To the best of my knowledge we have a map turtle, a painted turtle and a red belly slider.  They're all still pretty small.  (The painted is the smallest.)  I have seen the map turtle do the "mating dance" towards the RBS but have seen no interest on her part.  What is the likelihood that the two of them will reproduce? < Not likely but not impossible.> Also, the tank they are all in does not have any sand or soft soil.  There are a lot of small rocks that stay dry, would that work as an area for egg laying? < No, the eggs require soft sand/substrate to provide a consistent damp and uniform temperature.> And finally, what do you know about Map turtle reproductive organs?  A few weeks ago while cleaning the tank I thought I saw the maps "thingy". However, I was sitting by the tank this weekend and saw the map on the bottom of the tank, head pulled in, with the most gigantic, black, spiky thing poking out of his tail.  Please, tell me what in god's name that was.  Thanks for what ever information you can give me. Sarah < It could be the hemipene of a male map turtle.-Chuck>

Crossing Turtles  - 04/02/06 My boyfriend and I have 3 turtles, a Red Ear Slider, Mississippi Map, and Western Painted. We have been noticing that the RES seems to be doing the "courtship jive" thing you discussed to the Mississippi Map turtle. Do you think that they are courting each other? I guess I am just wondering if turtles that aren't the same type court and mate? < It is spring and love is in the air. Male red eared sliders will court anything, rocks logs and other turtles. It is highly unlikely that they will mate, but in an enclosed set up any thing can happen.-Chuck>

Baby Turtles With Problems   1/7/06 Hi, I have 4 baby turtles (RES) and two of them have eye infections. I wasn't sure if I should separate the sick ones from the other two. One of the sick turtles aren't eating for over 2 weeks and I am very concerned. How can I make him eat ? :(   Thank you. Please help . <Keep the turtle's water clean. Make sure the basking spot gets up to at least 85 F. Use the proper lighting for vitamin development. Use Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops and  feed Zoo Med Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food. They may have a vitamin A deficiency too. Chuck>

Wood Turtle Laying eggs  12/5/05 My wood turtle finally laid eggs. Years ago I was in contact with a breeder in Port St Lucie FL. He gave me instructions to purchase some type of medium used in potting soil and place it in a Tupperware container with the eggs. I don't remember the specific instructions. Do you have any advice or who I can contact. We have had the pair for many years but this is the first time she has laid eggs. Thank you Janet < You need the advice from an experienced turtle breeder. Go to tortoise.org and I think they will help you. The Calif. Turtle and Tortoise Club has been around for a very long time.-Chuck> 

Two Different Turtle Species Mating  11/16/05 I have two turtles in a 75 gallon tank in the winter and in a 150 gallon pond in the summer. Since I have moved them to the tank for the winter, the yellow belly is doing the mating ritual. Is it possible that these two turtles will mate? < Probably not.> The yellow belly is a male but I am really not sure about he wood turtle. How do I tell if this is a female and should I separate them? < The male turtle will court just about anything when conditions are right. The wood turtle may be a male if the lower shell is concave or kinda hollowed out. This is so the male turtle can mount the female during mating. Females are usually flat on the bottom. separating them may be a good idea. Wood turtles prefer a semi-aquatic set up anyway-Chuck> Love ya, Giggles 

Sexing Yellow Bellied Sliders 10/22/05 I got two yellow bellied sliders about a year ago. One is larger than the other and has longer nails. Which one is male or female? < Usually the female is larger with shorter nails and a shorter tail.> Also the smaller has seemed to be sleeping a lot is there an explanation for that? < Could be sick. The larger turtle is dominating the tank and the smaller one is not getting the nutrition and care it needs.> And last how can you tell if a yellow bellied slider is pregnant? < Females are large, fat and have an incredible appetite. Especially in the spring time when things warm up. Though this is not always certain, adult pairs will usually produce eggs.-Chuck>

Turtle Laying Eggs 8/20/05 Hi. I have 2 large RES I put them in a large fenced pond about  3 months ago. I noticed her laying eggs on 7/8/05 I dug them up carefully  there was 5.   Then today 8/18/05 I noticed her laying more I haven't dug  them up because I wanted I know if they will lay unfertile eggs. I  thought they were both female. Then I wanted to know how often they  will lay eggs. Thanks  very much Natasha < Females that are in very good shape and well cared for will still lay and bury infertile eggs. They will not hatch and should be removed so they don't attract predators or ants. Usually turtles lay eggs when the weather starts to warm up. If they are in very good health a female may (Double-Clutch) and lay a second batch later in the year if the weather stays warm-Chuck>

Box Turtle Babies  8/16/05 I am getting Eastern Box Turtle Hatchlings from a friend.  A clutch of three eggs have hatched and one more clutch of 5 eggs should hatch in the next week or so. His adults are 4 females, one male, one unknown, so I don't know if my turtles will be siblings, half siblings, etc.  I have requested two hatchlings, he suggested I take three (the babies are too small to sell and he knows I will take good care of them).  I am concerned that if I get three and end up with two males and a female, they will fight when they mature in five years or so.  Should I be concerned?  < Worry about it in 5 years.> He thinks most will be females because they were incubated at 88 degrees Fahrenheit.  If I get a male and a female, will their offspring have problems if they are related? < Probably not.> Also, he is going to keep them until they absorb their yolk sacs and begin eating.  After that point, is there a large mortality rate if I take proper care of them? < Absorbing the egg sac is the critical time. After that they need to be feed well to build up fat reserves.> (if you tell me "yes" I am more likely to take three)  My friend had really good luck with last years babies. Also, at what temperature should their basking spot and the cool side of the cage be? < 70 to 84 F> I have heard conflicting temperatures, my book says 75-82, but I don't know if they mean the basking spot should be 82 F and the cool side should be 75??? < Box turtles are found over a wide geographical area that varies in temperature. Keeping the temps in this ball park will be fine.> My friend keeps his outside, so they thermoregulate naturally.  Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. < Follow your friends advice. He is doing very well with his turtles and you should try a copy his success.-Chuck>

Turtle Laying Eggs? 8/11/05 I have a red eared slider, its about 4 inches big. First I know a male has long claws and a female has short claws, should I be able to tell what my turtle is now? < Yes> Second it moves the rocks in his tank around, if it is a female does this mean she's trying to lay an infertile egg, its also moving rocks from its basking area into the tank with its mouth, what does this mean? <The female will use her hind legs to dig a hole for her eggs. Moving gravel with her front legs is probably searching for food.-Chuck>

Turtle Eggs 8/5/05 Hi! Recently my turtle, who I've had for eight years, has laid four eggs. The problem is that she does not have a mate, and she has not been in contact with any since she was about a month old. Is it normal for a turtle to do this? Is it possible for the eggs to hatch? Thank you! < Females turtles that are in good shape and well taken care of occasionally lay infertile eggs. They will not hatch and should be discarded.-Chuck>

Turtles Breeding 8/4/05 I have a female yellow belly turtle who I am pretty sure is pregnant by our painted turtle.  Today my daughter noticed the male turtle eating something coming from the rear-end of the female turtle.  She got the male turtle off and the black stuff went back into the female.  I am not sure what is going on except that I told her to put the female turtle in a tank by herself and watch her.  I know for a fact that they did mate. I saw it.  How long are they pregnant before they hatch and then how long till the eggs hatch and how do I preserve them.  I have had these turtles for 12 and 9 years so they are very well taken care of.  Please help Thanks Yvonne < If the female has eggs then she should be laying them within a couple of weeks after mating. The eggs are laid in a sandy burrow that the female excavates. Once the eggs are laid they can be moved to an incubator within 24 hours. After that they should not be moved or they will die. Water turtles take up to 6-8 weeks. Sometimes they go on for a very long time before they hatch. Keep them humid and around 80 degrees F. Keep the eggs in the same orientation in which they were laid. Keep the same side up.-Chuck>

Slider Sexing Hello, We are Child Development Center in Weston and we do have a red ear slider turtle who's name is Chocolate she is about 10 years old.  We were actually wondering if there is a way to tell if a turtle is male or female.  If you can provide us with this information we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Beginnings' kids <Hi,  the easiest way to tell is to look at the claws on their front feet, the males will have much longer claws than the females, the underside of the males will also be slightly concave.  The females will usually grow larger than the males.  Good luck, keep those little hands washed.  Best Regards, Gage>

Red Eared Slider My turtle has been acting up lately. When I let her out of the tank she goes to a rug and seems to be enjoying herself. Is it possible she is masturbating? Her tank has become real sudsy also? Please help! <Hmm, I am not familiar with this behavior in turtles, you might post your question on some of the turtle discussion forums to see if anyone else has experienced something similar.  Best Regards, Gage http://forums.kingsnake.com/forum.php?catid=32 http://www.turtletimes.com/Forums/default.asp >

Red Eared Slider Eggs Under Water  hi there- I've read a lot about turtles laying eggs, and now it's happened to me. well, not me, but my turtles. She laid two eggs. what I'm concerned about is the fact that they're underwater. is that safe? also, I found them trying to clean out the tank, and I'm afraid I jostled one a little bit.  1. can they still hatch underwater (safely)  2. can they be moved around at all? how delicate are they? thank you thank you thank you thank you. -nick  <Hey Nick, sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I do not have much experience breeding sliders, but am fairly certain the eggs should be moved to an area where they can be properly incubated. Check out the link below for some more information.  http://petshub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10729   Best Regards, Gage >

Red Eared Slider Aggression <Hi, MikeD here> I have three red eared slider turtles and noticed that the two of them have been showing what I think are signs of aggression.  They take both of their front feet and vibrate them in front of their face while at the same time, aim for one another.  A friend of mine was wondering if this was a sign of courtship?<It sure is! Males have very long claws/toenails on the front feet and they "flirt" with females by placing their paws in front of their face and doing just exactly what you are describing.  Males MAY do this as a sort of "hand jive" with other males as a stylized form of a dance in lieu of real and possibly fatal attacks. You might also want to consider giving the female access to some dry ground for egg laying, where they dig a pit similar to those excavated by their larger, more famous marine relatives!> Thanks! <You're welcome> Slider Fanatic

Red Eared Slider Turtles <Hi, MikeD here> First of all, thanks for the speedy reply!<You're welcome>  If it is a female and male and they are courting one another, than what do I do if I do not have a space for them so that she can lay her eggs?<That's a tough question that only you can answer. If she HAS to she may lay them on the rocks or even in the water, but there's an equal chance that she'll retain them and become egg-bound, which can be fatal. My solution, of course, is to get a larger container where you can build a dry land section to the terrarium>  They are all in a 20 long tank with about eight inches of water with about 10 inches of rocks piled up so that they can get out of the water and "bask" in the heat lamp.<Nowhere near large enough. They will grow to about 10"-12" long each>  Also, one of the sliders got out of the tank and fell to the floor!<Might I suggest a screen top as well?>  It's shell is cracked a little bit but its been eating and swimming fine.  Someone had recommended to put baby oil on the shell to promote growth.<I'd use a good antibiotic ointment for a day or so, then superglue along the crack, depending on the size of course>  The other two have been digging in the rocks quite a bit.<They'll likely injure themselves soon if you don't fix this situation as well>  I don't know if they are looking for a place to build their nest, but I don't know what I will do if I have turtle eggs!<I'd be more concerned with your turtles surviving than about any eggs, which certainly won't. They can be hatched and the babies raised quite easily, but not without a well designed enclosure, which you do not have. My honest suggestion is to do some reading and consider building a terrarium for your charges where they can be healthy and you will then truly enjoy them> Thanks! Slider Fanatic

Slider Stuck First of all, thanks for the speedy reply!  If it is a female and male and they are courting one another, than what do I do if I do not have a space for them so that she can lay her eggs?  They are all in a 20 long tank with about eight inches of water with about 10 inches of rocks piled up so that they can get out of the water and "bask" in the heat lamp.  Also, one of the sliders got out of the tank and fell to the floor!  It's shell is cracked a little bit but its been eating and swimming fine.  Someone had recommended to put baby oil on the shell to promote growth.  The other two have been digging in the rocks quite a bit.  I don't know if they are looking for a place to build their nest, but I don't know what I will do if I have turtle eggs! <I hate to say it, but if you cannot make room for them, it is in the best interest of the turtles for you to find an appropriate home for them.  It is all too common for a pet store to sell young sliders with a 20long setup.  Great for them, they made the sale, but what about the turtle?  They need a lot more room than this.  Climbing out of the tank just emphasizes the point.  A cracked shell should be looked at by a vet, it is hard for us to see the extent of the damage.  I recently had to find a new home for my Mexican musk "honey".  Heartbreaking yes, but it was in her best interest, which is what we have to consider.  We may be attached to them emotionally, but they are going to die. If they are courting and breeding is not the plan they should be separated, there is a chance that she could become egg bound and die.  There is no chance for a successful clutch without the proper conditions.  Best of luck, and please consult with a quality reptile Vet for the best way to handle your current situation- Gage> Thanks! Slider Fanatic

Gay Turtles?  11/29/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have 2 male red ear slider turtles in a 75 gallon aquarium. One is about 5 inches long the other slightly smaller. Every once in a while they stroke each other with their front claws. But lately the smaller one has been trying to bite bigger one. They sit together on basking platform eat well like to float on weeds together but the little one seems more aggressive. The bigger one does not seemed to concerned about the little one. However I thought he might be getting stressed out with this little turtle bugging him all the time so I separated them. Well the big one started swimming back and forth along wall would not bask. Then after a week I put them together again. The big one stopped pacing wall and basked again. They got along fine then 2 weeks later I noticed little one being obnoxious to big one again. What should I do? They miss each other when gone but bite each other when together. They are both males they have the long front claws. Thanks <As far as I know, the claws are not how turtles are sexed.  It is by their tail.  The males have short, stubby tails & the females have long, fat tails.  It doesn't seem that they are hurting each other.  It seems more stressful to keep them separated, as the larger one stopped basking, when the smaller one was gone.  There has also many instances of homosexuality in the animal world.  ~PP>

Question about baby red -eared sliders Hello,     Hello my name is mike, I have 2 red eared sliders that I bought in may, and they have gotten bigger since. One is about 4-5 inches and the other 4 inches.  And just recently I bought two more babies (red eared sliders).  I was wondering if it is ok to put them with the bigger ones.  thank you for taking my question. < Turtles should all be close to the same size. They are incredible eaters and the larger ones would eventually pick on the smaller ones as food items when they got hungry and you weren't around. They may not be able to kill the smaller ones but the could bite off a leg and then you will be taking care of a imperfect turtle for the next 15+ years.-Chuck>                                                                                           greatly appreciated,                                                                                                     Mike D

Red eared slider baby hatchlings I had 4 new red eared turtles and 2 of them died I keep the water clean I have a 20 gal long aquarium, basking ramp, light. filter .... I have well water do turtles water need to be tested like the water of fish and if so what are the levels I need to keep < Water chemistry is not as critical for turtles as it is for fish. If the turtle shells are soft and mushy then the lighting is wrong. They need a bright warm full spectrum light to bask. These little turtles are usually pretty hardy under the right conditions. Hopefully you are giving them a varied diet.-Chuck>

Sexing Turtles Hi. I have two red-eared sliders. One of them I just got, and it's bigger than the other one. I don't know what sex either of them are, but I think the smaller one is a girl, and the larger one is a male. The big one that we just got, I noticed, has recently started blowing bubbles a lot. What does that mean? Write back as soon as possible!! ~BY <Red eared sliders are usually very easy to sex. Males are usually smaller than the females, have longer front claws and a much longer tail. The bubbles thing is normal. If they are blowing bubbles at the surface like they have a mucus then it might be signs of a respiratory infection. Simply blowing bubbles under water is not a problem.-Chuck>

Sexing Red Eared Sliders Hi. I have two red eared slider turtles and I was wondering what age I can tell what sex they are?- Sean age 9 me , not the turtles < Red eared sliders sex can usually be determined when they are around four inches long. At that time the males should be developing longer front claws and have a longer tail. Females of the same age should be larger than the males. -Chuck>

New Turtle laying Eggs 6/31/05 Hi, We found a turtle about 6 weeks ago and now it has started laying eggs. It has been exposed to another turtle-the sex I am not sure of yet- What do I do? She has backed her bottom literally into a pile of dirt and will not move. Earlier today, she laid an egg out in the open. Do I remove her from her eggs after she lays them or keep her in the same aquarium? I'm trying to get in touch with a turtle rescue team near me for answers but have not heard back from them yet. I really want someone to be able to help these eggs survive if in fact they are fertile. I do not have a basking lamp. Should I get one and put it shining on the eggs? Help please. I'm very uneducated about turtles and hope to put her in safe hands after all of this. Thanks < If this was a wild native turtle then you probably caught her moving between bodies of water and should have released her. The eggs are probably fertile. If this is a red eared slider then it is probably an escapee and the eggs may or may not be fertile. Either way, if you really want to try and hatch these eggs then here is what you need to do. Within 24 hours after the eggs are laid they can be gently transferred to an incubator. This can be any device that keeps the temperature between 75 and 80 degrees with keeping the humidity relatively high. Keep the eggs in the same position they were in when you picked them up. The embryos attach to the side of the egg shell within 24 hours. Twisting or turning the eggs can sometimes shear the embryo from the shell and kill the embryo. Direct heat from a basking light will dry the eggs out and kill them. In the wild turtles bury their eggs in the warm sand were the temperature varies little and there is always some moisture so the eggs don't dry out. I use to fill a 10 gallon aquarium with about 4 inches of water and place a submersible heater set at 78 degrees in the bottom. I would then place a brick in the center of the tank and place a Tupperware square bowl on the brick. In the bowl I would put about an inch of coarse sand place the eggs on top of the sand. In 8 to 10 weeks some would hatch. Leave her alone until she has laid all her eggs then make your move.-Chuck>

Red Ear Slider Need info on how to distinguish a red ear slider is male or female...thanks. Jeff <Please read here: http://www.kingsnake.com/forum/res/ Bob Fenner>

Turtle Gender I have two turtles "red ear sliders" .How can I tell male or female? The store where I got them said they were male & female, but how can I make sure.. Thank You, Gina Lauro <quite easily... as they mature, the males grow very long nails on the front feet while the females stay short and stubby. Males use the nails in a courtship display to stimulate females to spawn. Best regards, Anthony>

Red Ear Sliders I have two red ear sliders. I just want to know how to tell them a part. Write Back, Gina <Males have the long nails. -Steven Pro>

Re: eggs wow I have 6 eggs . I have them in a small fish tank with a heat lamp the temp is between 80 and 90 I mist it about 3 times a ay to keep some moisture there . the eggs are in peat moss that I got at the pet store . I'm doing what they said but I just want to make sure I'm doing this rite. and how long are they pregnant for before they lay there eggs <Nowhere in this email or subject line have you mentioned what kind of eggs you have. -Steven Pro>  
sorry  about that . we have red ear sliders. and marry xmas and happy new years <Hello, I do not have any experience breeding/incubating red eared sliders, I did find the following link which looks like it has some useful information.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.tortoise.org/archives/elegans.html>

Pregnant Turtle? Hi a month ago a turtle wandered into our flower bed in our front yard. she's a red ear slider, and her shell length is approx. 12 ". since this is the first time I've ever had a turtle I have been on the internet almost everyday since looking for information about how I should care for her, etc. The only problem is that many of the websites say one thing, and another says something completely different. <Everyone has their opinions, and there is more than one way to keep a turtle.> I got a kiddie pool, left it outside next to my house, and put some bricks in so they just peeked out of the water in order for her to bask. there's no filter at this time, so I change the water every 2 or 3 days. <I would do partial water changes, and look into getting a filter.  Also, depending upon where you live, she will need to be housed indoors for the winter.> I read that red ear sliders mate in the spring and lay their eggs in the summer. is this true? <From what I read, the breeding season is March-July.> also, how do I know if she is pregnant? <I do not have much experience in the breeding department.  As far as I know, the female will start to eat less, and become very active looking for a nesting spot.  I cannot find my turtle book right now.>   she's obviously mature enough to have mated in the spring. the nearest body of water to my house is 100 yards away, so she may have come to land in search of a nesting ground. if she is pregnant, I read that you should put the eggs in a container half buried in moist vermiculite. why is this? <First you need to put in some soil for her to dig a nest and lay her eggs.  Then excavate them and move them to a separate container for incubation.  The moist vermiculite helps to insulate the eggs and keep them moist.> cant I just use moist, shredded newspaper or paper towels instead? <I am not sure, I would just go with the vermiculite.> and what temperature do the eggs have to be in? <High 70s to mid 80s.> none of the websites have said the same thing. It would be really really awesome if there were eggs. <Better yet, babies.  I strongly recommend a good book on slider husbandry, if she is pregnant, you have to worry about her laying the eggs and not becoming egg-bound, then if she does lay them you will have to incubate them, and if they hatch successfully, you will need to raise them.  ugh, I get tired just thinking about it.  I would also find a good reptile vet in the area.  The link below is to a care sheet on Melissa Kaplan's site, she knows her stuff.  Best of Luck, Gage http://www.anapsid.org/reslider.html > Please help! thank you! -new turtle owner

Is my turtle pregnant? ok I promise this will be the last time I ask anymore questions lol... first of all, my res has been acting very strangely over the past two days. since yesterday, she kept trying to get out of her kiddie pool. I mean, very very frantically trying to get out, like she was going to dye if she didn't. after watching her all morning, after lunch I went to a small area of my lawn that's behind my house where the grass had all died and was replaced by dollar weeds and moss. I spent about half an hour clearing the weeds and stuff away and put them in a pile. next, I dug a few inches into the 'deweeded' area and thoroughly turned the dirt around. the dirt was mostly sand with chunks of clay mingled in. I crushed the clay, fenced off the area with some wood and bricks and whatever I could find, then put my turtle in the area. the deweeded area is 4'x5', with a few inches of weeds surrounding. I spent the whole afternoon sitting by a window overlooking the area, but in vain, because the turtle did nothing but try to escape. of course the fence stopped her, and she flipped over on her back a few times (then got upright again by digging her head into the sand and pushing), but NO NEST DIGGING. I don't understand. the sand is moist enough to dig in, the clay is no problem at all since I crumbled it up, but no digging! so I put the turtle back in the pool after 4 hours of waiting, but then she started to frantically try to get out again. this morning I put her back in the area, misting it slightly first, but after all these hours she has done nothing but try to escape. what am I supposed to do?????? if I leave her in the kiddie pool, she tries to get out like a dog is going to maul her, but when I put her in a nesting spot, all she does is try to get away. its getting a bit frustrating, and I will be glad for ANY help or advice whatsoever. I have tried palpating her in the area right in front of her hind legs, but feel nothing by the way, her shell isn't 12 inches long, sorry. its about 8 or 9 inches long thank you <Hmm.  It sounds like she is either not pregnant and just acting crazy, or maybe she is not ready yet.  I would try incorporate both the land and the water in her enclosure maybe with a sort of A Frame or something going over the side of the kiddy pool so the turtle can come and go as she pleases.  The land area will need to be fenced in of course. Best Regards, Gage>

Slider Love Hello I have two red-eared sliders--a male and female who have co-habited in a 75 gallon aquarium for three years with no problems. HOWEVER in the last few weeks they have become very hostile to each other--he often tries to engage her in mating but she will respond by attacking him and then he attacks her (biting mostly) to the point where I have had to pry them apart--no serious injuries have occurred and I have tried to take them each out of the tank for several hours to give them alone time....will this end? is this normal behavior? what can I do to stop it? Is buying a separate tank my only option? Thanks for your help Louise <Hi Louise, I have never tried breeding sliders, so I am not familiar with their breeding behavior.  From what I have read it sounds like he is feeling frisky and she does not want any part of it, and this is when the aggression starts.  The link below is to the first site I found that mentions breeding, the sites I check out after that all seem to have identical information. http://reslider.free.fr/breeding.html I would see if I could find a good discussion forum to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, chances are that many have.  I found a forum on turtletimes.com http://www.turtletimes.com/ I would start there.  If the aggression gets too bad or one gets seriously wounded, I would definitely separate them.  Best of luck, let us know how it turns out or if we can be of further assistance. -Gage>

Turtle Eggs I have a question about freshwater turtle eggs.  How can you tell if the eggs the turtle lays are good or bad? And how long before the hatch? Thanks for your time. <It depends on the turtle, I am going to assume a pond slider of sorts.  If you have a male and a female who performed the mating rituals (as opposed to a lone female), chances are you have good eggs.  Fuzzy eggs are bad.  You will want to keep the eggs moist and warm, mid to upper 80s.  Best of luck, Gage>

Side Neck Turtle Incubation We have a side neck turtle that has laid eggs and we have put them in a Tupperware bowl with Vermiculite with a little warm water, we are going to put a light over them, but we don't know anything else......PLEASE help us, give us any source of info we can use Thanks Kristi <Hey Kristi,  I have never incubated turtle eggs myself, I would start with the articles at the link below and see if you can pick up a book specific to Side Neck Turtles for specific information on temperature and what not.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/articles.html#breeding  >

How Do I Know if my Turtles Babies are Still Alive my turtle just laid eggs and I don't know if there is some thing in there or not or if she is going to have more babies help < Take the eggs out of the water and bury them in a potting soil vermiculite mixture and incubate them at a constant 80 degrees if you can. You will be able to tell in a couple of weeks if the eggs are good or not. Keep the soil moist but not wet and you may have baby turtles in a couple of months. -Chuck>

Determining Sex of Juvenile Turtles Hi!<Hi, MikeD here>  Today I purchased two adorable turtles, the size of a quarter<Those are newly hatched and often quite delicate>.  I figure they are Painted Turtles, because of their colors<Many little turtles offered for sale are quite colorful, with the most common being the Red-eared Slider, which is green with yellow striping on the neck and one red stripe in the middle. True Painted turtles have red edging around the shell and no "red ear", but in either case, determining the sex is done the same way.>, but how can I tell whether they are male of female?<For now this is nearly impossible. As they get larger males will develop very long "fingernails" on the front feet, while the females will remain short, the same as on the rear feet. The males "court" underwater by placing their feet in front of their face and waving these long front claws. Another method is by "probing" to locate the hemipenises (they have two each), but this again ought to be done when they are larger and by a professional, as it entails risk of serious injury if done incorrectly>  I would really like to know, please answer back.   Thank you,<You're very welcome> Melissa C.R.

Sexing a Painted Turtle  11/22/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 21 year old painted turtle that I adopted from I friend about a year ago.   <Now that's an old reptile!> My friend claims that some time ago should found a small egg in the turtle's aquarium and so she assumed that the turtle must be female. <Very good guess.> But when I held one of my female box turtles up next to the glass of the aquarium to say hi to the water turtle, the water turtle started doing that weird hand swishing mating ritual, which would suggest the turtle is a male turtle, right? <I think the egg was the giveaway on this one.  It must be a female turtle.  You can also tell by it's tail.  Males have tiny short tails & females have longer fat tails.  My turtles do happy dances whenever I go near their tank, thinking they might be fed.> Assuming my friend wasn't hallucinating or lying,  where could an egg possibly come from? Strange question, I know. <Unless there was another critter in the tank to lay an egg, it had to come from the turtle.  ~PP> -LG

Turtle Questions Hi, My name is Ben I am 12 years old and I have some questions that I would please like you to help me with. I got two yellow bellied turtles for Christmas. They are now nearly 5 months old and already are showing signs of mating. The male is maneuvering in front of the female and flapping his front legs franticly. No biting occurred so maybe they were just playing. I don't know. Could you please help me? < Five months is pretty early for mating behavior in turtle. If they are really older and you have had them for only five months then it could be a mating behavior. Females are usually larger and have shorted tails. Males are usually smaller and have longer claws and a much longer tail.> Also I have a large enough tank to last them a while but when they grow I know you're supposed to move them out side into a pond (which I have the resources for) but I live in cold and wet Ireland and even in the summer it's not great so what should I do when the problem arises? < There a number of things you could do. For long term housing you could get a very big aquarium, large plastic tub or any other large clean vessel that would hold water. You then need to set up and area where they can get out of the water to bask themselves. This could be a log a pile of bricks or anything else. Over the basking spot you need to give them a light source that provides heat, UVA and UVB light for up to 12 hours a day. The water can be heated to 65 degrees F using a titanium submersible aquarium heater. You really should go with the metal heater so the turtles don't break like they would a glass one. A large siphon hose could be used to change the water in the tub. Look at pond filters to keep the water clean. Basically you are making an indoor pond. Natural sunlight through a window will help but I would still recommend these other things to be sure.-Chuck> Yours sincerely Ben P.S. I think your site

Turtle Laying Eggs Hi, My name is Jamie. I am in need of some help. I have not been able to find anything close to my problem. My turtle came from the wild as a young turtle. I have had her (I now know she is a she) for about 7 years. We have no other turtles. She is in a 55 gal tank that has fish, snails, and a crayfish. The problem is that we have found eggs in the tank. There has never been another turtle for her to mate with. She never laid eggs in the past. I don't know if this is something that can happen or if I am mistaken all the way. I read the listed information on your site and found it very detailed on many topics. I hope that you can shed some light on this for me. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Thanks, Jamie < Sexually mature female turtles in good shape often lay eggs in the springtime. The eggs are infertile and should be thrown away. She will need a little extra care. She will be hungry and probably need some vitamins too to regain her strength. You have been doing a good job caring for her.-Chuck>

Murtle Laid an Egg Dear Crew: We have a 25-26 year old female painted turtle, by the name of Murtle.  Murtle is healthy and happy and lives in a (3/4 full) 75 gallon aquarium complete with a heater, a dry platform, an underwater cave, a UV basking light, etc., and she has her own school of guppies to keep her tank clean. Murtle has never been ill except an ear infection when she was around 10 years old, the vet gave her antibiotic shots and she recovered rapidly.  Murtle has not been exposed to another turtle in about 10 years as she killed both of the males that we tried to acquaint her with. Every spring Murtle seems to go thru a cycle, she suddenly eats all of her guppies constantly begs for additional food and is very cantankerous for a few weeks. Then everything suddenly goes back to normal.  We have jokingly referred to it as her annual turtle "heat" cycle. This year was no exception, the guppies disappeared a couple of weeks ago, but today we had a surprise. Murtle laid an egg. Is this  just her body trying to reproduce without a mate? <This is an infertile egg that is occasionally laid by female turtles in captivity.> Is she wanting to reproduce? < This is probably less a function of what she wants and more so a function of her reproductive cycle responding to being well taken care of and spring time.>  Can this activity hurt her? < It doesn't hurt per say but it will deplete her of vitamins and minerals. I would make sure she has a well balanced diet and include some vitamins.> Is there any way to stop this type of activity? < Not really, it is caused by her hormones.> Is there anything special we should be feeding her in addition to her ReptoMin turtle floating sticks, occasional geckos, bugs and fruits? < I would add some washed earthworms, crickets dusted with calcium powder and kingworms that have been gut loaded with a good reptile additive.-Chuck>

Keeping and Breeding Sideneck Turtles Hi there. I tried finding an answer for this on the other questioners' queries, but their answers either weren't specific enough or didn't exist. I am the proud owner of an African Side Neck turtle, named Elijah, whom I've hesitantly labeled a male. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure of my turtle's gender or age. When I bought him he was in a tank at Petco with other ASN's and some RES's. However, I was not informed of his age or gender by the shopkeeper. Is sexing in ASN's similar to sexing in RES? With long claws and long thin tails meaning it's a male (I read that that only applies after five years old)? Or does that not apply? < In general male turtles tend to be smaller than females of the same age and some species do have longer front claws. Look at the belly of the turtle. Males usually have and indented belly area to mount the female during mating. Females usually have a very flat belly area.> And how might I tell my turtle's age by looking at him? He's about six and a half inches long, if that helps. < Very difficult to determine an exact age.> I'm asking all this, because I'm intending to breed him/her when he/she reaches sexual maturity, so perhaps you might be able to tell me when that might be for this breed, as well. Thanks a bunch! Stephanie < Breeding herps is usually not too easy to do. I would recommend that you go to Kingsnake.com and get in contact with some serious turtle and tortoise clubs to see if you really want to get into this area.-Chuck>

Turtle Eggs 6.12.05 We found a turtle in our driveway that we expected was pregnant because of the season and the size. It was heading towards construction and was not very colorful. So we put it in our old turtle tank because we didn't want it to get hurt. (Especially if it was pregnant.) We were feeding it our aquarium turtles` mushed worms and it was eating. While we were gone it laid eggs and we did not have time to put a nest in for them. Now she keeps running over them and we don't know if she'll try to bite us if we try to take the eggs or the mother  out of the tank. Will she bite us? Do the eggs need their mother? Do you think we should  put them in a butter container full of moist soil/dirt? How long till the eggs hatch? THANK-YOU! <So far as I know a turtle will build a nest deposit the eggs and be done with it, no tending to the eggs.  I am not sure where she deposited the eggs but if it is not a safe, warm, moist place they probably do not have much of a chance.   The  time it will take to hatch will depend on the species of turtle.  Try to determine the type of turtle you have and do a search on incubating turtle eggs there is a lot of good info out there on the web.  You have to be pretty slow to get bit by a turtle, when you put your hand in the tank the turtle will either run/swim the other way, ignore you, or try to sample your fingers as a possible food source (if she gets a hold of your finger pain will vary depending on species).  Best Regards, Gage (who has been bitten once by a Mexican Musk Turtle)>      

Breeding Turtles Hi there.. Quite a few years ago I was young and decided I wanted 2 pet turtles, so my dad brought home 2 baby yellow belly sliders, and I'm guessing about a year ago [I was living with dad, the turtles were with mom] one of them laid eggs. We're not sure which one we still don't know if ones female, ones male, or they're both female or what], mom tried to incubate them following a book she had, but they died, it didn't work. Just tonight I noticed they were acting funny so I walk over and there's a single egg there, being messed with by one of the turtles, pretty much torn apart. Frankly, We don't know how to deal with this, and I have some questions. Their habitat is a large tank not sure how many gallons], full of water, with a big rock in the middle they can climb on to bask and regular fish-take rocks on the bottom. There's also a heat lamp over the tank. I believe I remember being told that sand would get in their shells and irritate them, is that true? <No.> Don't they lay eggs in sand/dirt? < Sand is needed for the turtles to deposit their eggs. If there is no sand then they have not place to deposit the eggs.> How exactly can you tell when a turtle is preparing to lay eggs? < Usually the female will excavate a pit in a sandy beach along the river or stream bank. once the eggs are laid the female buries them and takes off.> I've seen this on some sites but they're all different, and I wonder if there's any other way of predicting it? < Not really. If your turtles are in good shape then you can pretty much expect this sort of thing every spring.> Do they lay eggs once a year or.. is there any usual schedule or is it just random? What does it depend on? < Usually in the spring when the weather starts to warm up.> If we found eggs ..not torn apart and battered around =/] in our tank, what do we do? < If you have a pair of turtles with one being a male with longer front claws and a longer tail , then you could set up a sandy area for the female to deposit her eggs. If you have two females then the eggs are infertile and should be thrown away.> Take them out, and what exactly do we need to set up an 'incubator' for the eggs? What sort of dirt/container/whatever do you recommend? How will we know if they are fertile? What are your personal thoughts/opinions on this? Any tips? ANY Help on this would be very much appreciated! -Chelsea. < Turtle eggs can be moved in the first day and placed in a sandy type medium. They should remain moist so they don't dry out and maintained between 75 and 80 degrees. In 8 to 10 weeks the eggs should hatch. I would recommend you do a Google search for breeding turtles to get some specific facts on breeding your specific species of turtle.-Chuck>

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