ARTICLE: Guidlines to Turtle Breeding

Here you can direct all your questions about turtle breeding and what to do about those eggs you found that your turtle laid.
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Willie
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Please read this before you think about breeding!
NOTE: I\'ve written this article myself, please do not copy it and say it is your own.

General Guidelines for Breeding Turtles
Breeding turtles can be a lot of fun, but there are also many things that aren’t so fun about it. It requires many different kinds and sizes of tanks, which are all fairly expensive. It needs a lot of time commitment, especially to care for the breeding pair and the young hatchlings. You have to feed the pair a balanced, varied diet of vitamin and mineral rich foods. You have to train the hatchlings to eat commercial foods. (Most buyers look to see if the hatchlings are feeding will on commercial foods before buying.) And, last, but certainly not least, you have to find good homes for all of the hatchlings. You may have your babies for quite a long time if nobody decides to buy them. I suggest you read through this article, and really think about all the commitment that is involved before attempting to breed turtles.

Choosing a Species to Breed
Choosing what kind of turtle to breed can be rather difficult. I suggest one that you have had at least 3 years of experience keeping, a species that you are very familiar with. Next, look around, see what kinds of turtles people are looking for. Common species, like the Red Eared Slider is defiantly a bad choice to breed because they are so readily available everywhere. It would be hard to sell hatching of turtles that are common, also, you won’t get much money for them. Breed a species that is relatively unusual or rare, that way many people will want a hatchling, and you can make a good profit from them. Finally, decide how much space and money you have. Different species have different amounts of hatchlings, which won’t cost as much for you to care for. Also, some species are smaller than others, allowing you to be able to keep the pair in smaller tanks, than lets say cooters or sliders, which require a large amount of space. Make sure you really think this through before you decide on what species to breed.

Breeding Conditions
The most consistent breeding results are obtained with Turtle Pairs that are cooled down during the winter. It is recommended that beginning in January the breeding pair be kept at 50-60 degrees F, for a period of 6-8 weeks. This can usually be done by placing the Turtle enclosure in a cool room of the house. Any heating units should be turned off, and hours of lighting over the basking area should be cut down to 7 hours. Replace the Basking bulbs with 40 watt household bulbs. Turtles will usually not feed at these colder temperatures and spend most of their time in the water section. Males will often attempt breeding with females at these colder temperatures and some people feel that successful breeding frequently happens during the cooling period. One view is that the sluggish behavior of females allows for more ready breeding by males. After 6-8 weeks, the Turtles should be returned to normal maintenance temperatures, they should be placed on an optimal feeding schedule. Egg-laying will occur from spring through summer. Female Turtles that are nearing egg-laying typically go off and feed and become unusually active. Once this is noticed, breeders will remove the female turtles from the enclosure and place her in the nesting area. Female turtles that are ready to lay will usually do so within 24-48 hours. Depending on several factors, including the age and size of the Turtle and the feeding and maintenance schedules, egg clutches will be laid at intervals of 2-4 weeks. Specialist breeders will consistently obtain 5-8 clutches per year from large adult Turtles. These frequent clutches are only possible when special attention is given to the feeding of females between clutches. High protein diets during the breeding season will increase multiple clutching success.
Maturity age
Most turtle Species will be mature enough to breed at about 5 years of age, or if their shells are at least 6 inches long.
Mating tank
I recommend using at least a 55 gallon tank for breeding. I keep the water depth fairly deep, right around 12-18 inches. Deeper is usually better. Make sure there isn’t too many things in the tank that could get in the way of the breeding ritual.
Mating dance
The mating dances of most species are very elaborated and interesting to observe. The male swims towards the female, and starts caressing her face with his long front claws. He might also swim around her in circles. He might also strike her front shell lightly with his claws. This looks as if his front legs are trembling. If she is receptive, she will accept him, otherwise a fight might start. If after 45 minutes, the female is not receptive to the male\'s dance, you should remove her from the tank and try again in about two days later. The mating itself takes about 15 minutes.

After mating
I advise, that during pregnancy you keep the female away from the male so that she will not get disturbed so much. You shouldn’t handle her, except in times when it is extremely necessary. Make sure you keep the water very clean and give her enough space, a 75 gallon tank is enough for larger species. In smaller species of turtles, the tank should be at least 40 gallons. Heating is also very important as they will spend a lot of time basking to warm themselves and the eggs inside. You might notice a change in the appetite of the female, she might refuse to eat. This is normal, so don\'t stop continuing offering her food and consider a dietary change, she might feel inclined to eat certain things only. Make sure, especially during this time that you add vitamin and mineral supplements to her diet. You can buy supplements in the powder form and sprinkle it over her food. Calcium is very important to her diet during this time. Like many pregnant moms, she may have specific preferences at this time.
Laying the Eggs
I use masonry mixing tubs for my nesting quarters, like many other breeders. You can buy these at Home Depot for a fairly cheap price. They are 3 feet by 2 feet and can hold 8 inches of sand. I use just plain sand for the nesting substrate, the females aren’t too picky. Usually turtles dig their nests 6-8 inches down, so the masonry tubs work fine for this.
The average gestation period for a turtle is two months, but if she doesn\'t find a suitable place for laying her eggs, she will probably retain them inside. This causes much hassle and can very easily lead to death. During the last two weeks of her gestation, you will notice that she will spend more time on land, sniffing and digging around in order to find a proper place for laying her eggs. At this point, you need to put the female in the nesting area. Try to watch her as much as you can to see where she lays the eggs. She might lay from 2 to 20 eggs.

Removing the eggs
Leave the eggs for at least 48 hours in the nest because during this time the eggs become much more stronger. Make sure you carefully remove the eggs from the ground. If you accidently hit one, it will probably crack, sending eggs yolk on all the other eggs, which could cause an assortment of horrible things to the rest of them. This includes eggs fungus, which kills the eggs. When I get near the eggs I use a paint brush to lightly sweep the dirt away from the very delicate eggs. Carefully remove the eggs from the nest and place them in a the Incubation Container with a substrate of Vermiculite. Bury the eggs halfway in the substrate. NEVER TILT THE EGGS FROM THE ORIGINAL POSITION THE WERE LAID IN, IF YOU DO IT WILL KILL THE EGGS!!
Incubation
Buy an Incubator at a local farm supply store in your area. The ones used for bird eggs will work just fine. These cost around $40 at most places. Put the incubator in a room that has little or no traffic in it, so it won’t be disturbed. Next, make an Incubation Box out of a Glad container. Drill a few small holes into the lid for ventilation (no more than 1/4\" in diameter). Then, set up a bedding in the container of about 2 inches of vermiculite. Use the heavy grain rather then the fine one. Moisten the vermiculite evenly. Make sure it is kept damp but not wet. Now, put the Glad container (Incubation box) in the Incubator. Set the Incubator’s temperature right at 80 degrees. This temperature will give you a clutch that is a good, even ratio of males to females. DO NOT disturb the Incubation Box, or the area around it!! The eggs should be regularly inspected, and the vermiculture lightly sprayed with water to retain moisture.


Hatching
You should start to observe the eggs more carefully about 55 to 65 days after they had been laid. Hatching time is coming! The eggs should hatch in about 80-85 days. Once the time comes, the hatching will cut the eggs shell with something called \"egg tooth\", which falls out about an hour later and never grows back. If they don\'t feel secure, they will remain inside their shell. They may remain in the shell for an additional day. Do not take them out, they might not come out until the following day. Once they come out, you notice a small sack hanging out of their bellies. This is the yolk sac that fed them while they were incubating. DO NOT remove this sac, removing it can kill the newborn. It is better to wait until it drops on its own. Once it drops, you will notice a split in the plastron. This will heal by itself too, you don\'t need to treat it.

Caring of the newborn
Set the newborns in a 20 gallon tank per dozen. Give them a basking area and a shallow water area. No substrate is needed, or recommended for newly hatched turtles. Hatchlings may take a while to become confident swimmers and can even drown if not provided with an easily accessible land area. Newborns need to master the art of floating and staying underwater for long periods of time. Newborns can actually drown if you neglect them dry land. Once they are in their tank, start feeding them. It is important to get them to eat. Start offering them items on a common, proper turtle diet, you might have to chop the food you offer, since they are small babies. This includes chopping earthworms, mealworms, crickets. As with adult turtles, newborn need to have their full spectrum light. So don\'t forget to include a good lighting in the tank. The full spectrum light will help the newborn shells to harden. Keep the water clean. Make sure you have a good submersible filter that doesn’t give off much of a current (the hatchlings may have a hard enough time already swimming and don’t need a strong current)..
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yaya
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and btw,really good article,even if don\'t want to breed turtles right now,i appreciate the time u take...
Last edited by yaya on Sun Jan 30, 2005 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
dixieee
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btw,,i think this article should be linked to the main page of the site cz it includes everything in an easy to understand way..or at least be pinned (but we don\'t have it in this board)
Last edited by dixieee on Sun Jan 30, 2005 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Willie
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Oh yes, that\'s what it\'s meant to be used for, Personal Use.

Yes, I do breed turtles. Mostly Painted Turtles and Musks. We\'re going to be expanding our species into the Texas Diamondback Terrapin this fall. My buddy and I have a little \'Buisness\' going. We sell them throughout the state. (Wisconsin)
We hope to able to ship out turtles Nationally starting this summer.
Jericho199
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I hope my egg hatches :D
dixieee
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wow u\'re lucky u got an egg easily..waiting for the baby\'s news:)
contact444
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Great article!
I have been unable to find a really good informative article online. I am purchasing an albino and was thinking of using it in the far future for breeding so this was good info. Thanks.
Urbanoidstav1961
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awsome areticle.i may want to breed what u recommemded!i want to breed spotted turtles.i want a spotted turtle to butt they are expensive.they are pretty and plus they stay small.
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