7 Exclusive Tips on How to Incubate Turtle Eggs

Last Updated on November 4, 2020 by Anne Thynne

It may come as a surprise and joy to you when you discover your turtle has laid eggs in their nest. The pleasure becomes double if you are a beginner and can incubate the turtle eggs to give birth to the lovely baby turtles.

But for that, you need to know how to incubate turtle eggs at first. Luckily, you can accomplish the incubating process without any professional skills. It is pretty straightforward as long as you take care of the incubator and the eggs attentively.

You can either purchase a commercial incubator or make one with DIY projects at home. Also, there are few other tips that you need to follow for the successful incubation and hatching of turtles eggs.

Tips on How to Incubate Turtle Eggs

how to incubate turtle eggsWhen it comes to incubating turtle eggs, you don’t need to overdo anything. Instead, keep things simple and make sure everything falls in the proper place. Also, since the turtle itself has nothing to do with the incubation period, leave her like she was earlier.

Types of Incubation

The incubation systems of turtles are of two kinds. These incubation methods are differentiated by the temperature and turtle type. These are:

Low humidity method:

If you pet terrestrial tortoise from humid regions or dessert area, the low humidity method for incubators will work best. The eggs of these turtles usually have a hard protective shell. You can go for the birds’ egg incubator for the method.

These incubators are readily available and also come with a thermostat to measure the temperature regularly.

High humidity method

This method is more suitable for box turtles and water turtles. You may fix some lights or bulbs to maintain the right temperature inside the incubator. Also, keep the following rules-

  • When you move the egg from its original location to the incubator, don’t shake or change its orientation. It must be in the same direction as it was laid.
  • Maintain the temperature at 80°F or 27°C continuously.
  • You also need to maintain the humidity at around 80%.

Preparing the incubator

The incubator must be clean and free from germs. Hence, it is best to start with the cleaning and sterilization of the incubator. While many experts choose bleach solutions with mild affect to clean the incubator, some people will opt for the commercial disinfectant, especially for incubators.

No matter which way you go, the result will be the same. Nonetheless, you must ensure that you clean and disinfect each inch of the incubator surface. Also, don’t forget to disinfect the handle, buttons, and other essential gear that will come across the incubator during the long incubation process.

You may use a clean rug for the cleaning. Just soak the cloth in the disinfectant solution and rub it in all parts of the incubator. After that, you will have to prepare the incubator for the right humidity and temperature.

You can use perlite or vermiculite as the incubator substrate to bury the eggs on it. While many people opt for sand, it is not recommended. Also, after preparing the incubator, run it for at least 24 hours before you actually place the turtle eggs on it.

The earlier running time will help you know if the incubator needs any humidity or temperature adjustments. When run from a previous time, the incubator will be in the perfect condition right from the word go for the turtle eggs.

Preparing the turtle eggs

Caring for the turtle egg is a bit difficult than you might have anticipated. That’s why you need to be extra careful while working with the turtle egg before and during the incubation period.

The preparation of a turtle egg starts with its removal from the original nest. Turtles’ eggs initially have a soft and delicate shell. So, you mustn’t hurt the surface to kill the turtle babies even before the hatching starts.

Use a soft-bristled paintbrush or toothbrush to remove the dust and grime from the shell at first. Also, use a pencil or pen to mark the egg’s top with an’X’ sign. It is crucial since changing the egg orientation will destroy the embryo inside it.

Once you have cleaned and outlined the ‘x’ sign on the egg, carefully remove them from the nest and ardently place it in the incubator. Don’t twist the egg during the process, or the embryo inside the egg will be lost forever.

Maintaining the right temperature

Maintaining the right incubation temperature for turtle eggs is exceptionally crucial. The suitable temperature for most species will be around 78°F to 85°F. Nonetheless, this is not something written in the Bible that can’t be changed.

Also, note that the sexuality of the turtle will depend on the incubation heat. At higher temperatures, most turtles will bear as females, and in the lower temperature, you can expect the eggs to provide male turtles more.

Also, a slight variation in the temperature will affect the entire incubation length of the eggs. For instance, lowering the temperature by 2°F to 5°F may increase the incubation period to 10 days more.

Nonetheless, it is highly recommended that you don’t drop the temperature below 75°F or go beyond 90°. In both cases, the turtle egg will potentially face the babies’ death even before they can enjoy the light of the world.

Maintaining the humidity

The next important thing to focus on during the incubation time is maintaining the right humidity level for the turtle eggs. The proper humidity will, however, largely depend on the turtle egg types.

For instance, a higher humidity level is essential for soft-shelled turtle eggs. It will often go as high as 90% for the successful hatching of the eggs. And for hard-shelled eggs, it might go as low as 70% for the hatching process.

Soft-shelled eggs need more humidity since these have a higher rate of deflating. In natural conditions, the turtle eggs with soft shells are mostly found in a high humid area. Thus, you may see these eggs mostly near any water source or forest floor. The best example of soft-shelled eggs for turtles is box turtles, which need humidity at 90% frequently.

The turtles that lay hard-shelled eggs are found primarily in dry and arid conditions such as desserts.

Waiting is the key

Turtles’ egg needs an incredibly long incubation for the successful hatching of the newborns. Hence, you must wait patiently during the long incubation period.

Nonetheless, the period varies largely from species to species. The most common duration for the hatching is between 8 weeks to 11 weeks.  But cases aren’t rare where the incubation period has well passed over 18 weeks or more. It happens mainly in cold regions.

Also, the incubation period will vary from one egg to another in the same clutch. Although the initial hatching process will start at the same time, you need to act with patience. Even after the successful hatching, baby turtles will be connected with the egg through an egg sac. The egg sac provides the initial nutrients to the babies for survival.

The entire hatching time may go up to 18 days. Don’t touch the babies during this time since if the egg sac is broken, the baby turtle will die for the lack of proper nutrients.  Hence, allow the hatching period to cover its full length and ensure the baby turtles are safe to remove.

If the hatching period goes a bit longer, don’t be anxious. It is quite familiar even with the right conditions.

Moving the newborn turtles

The final step of taking care of the turtle eggs is actually removing the turtle babies from the incubator and keeping them in a safe location. You may keep them in another container before introducing them to the terrarium or pond.

However, when you move the babies from the incubator, clean them with a warm cloth. Also, don’t forget to disinfect the secondary container to keep the turtle babies for the next few days.

How to Create A DIY Incubator For Turtles Egg

You may want to make an incubator at home instead of getting a commercial piece. Well, creating an incubator for the turtle egg hatching is easy and straightforward.

You will need a Styrofoam cooler and a regular water heater. We have included the guideline on creating a DIY turtle egg incubator in our ‘turtle egg care‘ procedure separately. You can read the article and learn about the incubator production process in detail.

Final Words

Turtles are perhaps the easiest of all pets to take care of and maintain. Also, they are less vulnerable to diseases, which make them a perfect choice for hobbyists. The hard part of turtle keeping is to incubate their eggs and hatch the eggs successfully.

That’s why we have talked with several turtle owners who have successfully incubate and hatched the turtle eggs several times. We have also taken recommendations from the experts to compile these seven tips on how to incubate turtle eggs with a higher success rate.

Hence, we aspire you to get considerable benefits to incubate and hatch the turtle eggs’ next batch. We eagerly look forward to seeing the newborn baby turtles in your terrarium or turtle pond.  So, don’t forget to share the baby turtles’ photo with us.

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