The simultaneous maintenance of heterosexual individuals of red-eared turtles at home, subject to the creation of optimal conditions, can result in pregnancy and childbirth of a female individual.
A small decorative turtle gives birth to several eggs, and this ceases to care for posterity. Reptile lovers create ideal conditions for mating animals, caring for the expectant mother and her eggs, from which charming tiny babies of bright green color subsequently appear. To successfully obtain offspring, you need to know how long the pregnancy lasts, how red-eared turtles give birth, and what to do if the reptile has laid eggs.
At what age can pregnancy occur?
Under natural habitats, puberty of red-eared turtles occurs at 6–8 years of age. At home, puberty is faster, males become sexually mature as early as 3-4 years old, and females as young as 5-6 years old. The ideal age for breeding aquatic reptiles at home is 5 years, before attempts to obtain offspring will be unsuccessful.
Accurately determining the age of exotic animals is quite problematic, therefore, for mating, it is recommended to select individuals along the length of the carapace. Sexually mature males have a shell of not less than 11 cm, females by this age already reach 15-17 cm. Before puberty, it is almost impossible to distinguish the sex of animals, all reptiles look like females.
Secondary sexual characteristics in red-eared turtles can be determined by comparing several individuals. Males have a smaller elongated shell, an elongated tail and the presence of sharp long claws on the forelimbs. In addition, a typical gender of males is a triangular notch in the final part of the abdomen. Males sometimes swim out of their penis, like a rose flower, while swimming. After determining the age and gender, it is possible to form heterogeneous groups of females and males with a ratio of 2: 1 and wait for the mating games to begin.
Unfortunately, there are no external signs of pregnancy in reptiles. A pregnant red-eared turtle looks exactly like all the other relatives. Most often, the pregnancy of freshwater turtles in the wild occurs in the spring and summer. At home, mating reptiles most often occurs in the spring in April-May after prolonged hibernation. During this period, it is recommended to carefully monitor aquatic turtles so as not to miss the courtship process.
The mating games of the red-eared turtles are manifested by the active courtship of the male for the female she likes. The boy swims in front of the girl with his tail forward and gently tickles the cheeks of the chosen one with long claws of his forepaws. On land, males can approach females and strike the female’s back with their carapace. With the simultaneous maintenance of several heterosexual red-eared turtles, males can arrange bloody battles for the right to care for the female. In this case, it is recommended to leave a group of several girls and one boy.
Video: courtship games
It is almost impossible to find out that the red-eared turtle is pregnant, but you can suspect a successful conception of a female if you can notice mating games and the process of reptile intercourse. Mating of red-eared turtles takes place in water and lasts from 5 to 15 minutes, during intercourse the male hugs the female tightly from behind. Sperm can maintain its activity in the genital tract of a female individual up to 2 years. One sexual intercourse is enough for a female for 4-5 deposits.
It is possible to understand that the red-eared turtle is also pregnant by the characteristic behavior of the future mother. When the reptile carries eggs in itself, it has a change in appetite: from its increase to complete rejection of feed closer to the date of birth. Immediately before laying the eggs, the water turtle becomes restless, begins to dig soil, spin on land in search of a good place for its nest.
The most accurate confirmation of a reptile’s pregnancy is a radiographic examination, with which you can reliably verify the presence of eggs in the female’s genitals.
Pregnancy of a red-eared turtle lasts an average of 60 days and ends with egg laying. After mating, it is recommended that the future mother be mated from the male in order to avoid harm to the health of the female individual and her future cubs. During pregnancy, turtles must be fed a variety of foods, the main part of the diet should be animal feed, rich in calcium.
How the red-eared turtles lay their eggs
Under natural habitats, pregnant females of red-eared turtles go to land to lay eggs in warm sand. The tortoise is looking for a suitable place for its nest, the reptile can start digging sand several times and throw a dug hole. The construction of a future egg housing can last from a few minutes to three hours.
It is recommended that pregnant red-eared turtles create the same conditions as their wild relatives. To do this, on the shore of the aquarium, you must install any plastic container measuring 3030 cm, covered with sand 10-15 cm in height. Eggs of a red-eared turtle, laid directly in the water, have minimal chances of preserving the viability of the embryos, therefore, if a pregnancy is suspected, the turtles must be immediately prepared for their laying.
Toward the end of pregnancy, the female is intensively digging the sand offered to her. The female digs the nest with its hind legs, gradually moving in a circle to form an even rounded entrance. To maintain ideal humidity, the female wetts the sand with liquid from the cloacal paths during the construction of the nest. After much effort, a deep hole is formed in the sand with a perfectly even entrance, expanding to the bottom. Having finished with the construction of the nest, the female of the red-eared turtle lies on its abdomen and lowers its hind legs into the dug hole.
The laying lasts from 5 to 20 minutes, the red-eared turtle lays one egg each, after which there is a short respite. After isolating each egg, the reptile lowers its hind legs into the nest and corrects the position of the eggs. At home, the female can lay an average of 10-15 eggs, although their number can vary from 6 to 22 pieces. Eggs of a red-eared turtle look like white round balls 3-4 cm in diameter. They have a very fragile leathery shell.
Having finished laying, the reptile carefully digs a hole with eggs with its hind limbs, abundantly wetting it with urine. The animal whirls over the nest for 20-30 minutes, sniffs it and rams it with its abdomen. After laying eggs, the reptile safely forgets about its nest. After mating, the female can do 3-4 masonry, so you should not plant it with the male until the fall. After laying the eggs, it is advisable to feed the animal intensively for 2-3 weeks to restore female health.
Video: laying eggs in the sand
What to do if a red-eared turtle laid an egg
Male reptiles cannot bear and lay eggs, but a female red-eared turtle can lay an egg without a male. This physiological feature is also inherent in some birds.
The unfertilized or fatty eggs of the red-eared turtles should not be transferred to the incubator, they do not contain the embryos of future turtles. If the newly acquired female laid eggs, then they can be fertilized.
If the red-eared turtle has laid eggs, it is necessary to carry out a number of measures to safely obtain the turtle offspring.
Purchase or build an incubator
The incubation temperature of tortoise eggs is 26-32С, below and above these boundaries the reptile embryos die. A homemade incubator can be built from a glass jar of sand by installing a heat source and a thermometer in it.
Gently transfer the eggs to the incubator
If the turtle laid eggs in the aquarium, then they must be pulled out of the water within an hour, otherwise the embryos suffocate without air. From a nest built in the sand, or from the water, eggs must be removed without changing their initial position. To do this, you can carefully mark the mark with a pencil on the upper side of the egg. The turning of the embryo can cause its instant death.
The maturation of the embryo lasts from 2 to 5 months. Upon incubation in 26-28C, males form in the eggs, females hatch at an average temperature of 30-32C. Average temperatures do not have a fundamental effect on floor formation. Before laying eggs, it is advisable to enlighten them on an ovoscope for the presence of embryos in them. Fertilized eggs look lighter than fat ones; when they are scanned, a dark spot of the embryo is revealed. If in the first day it was not possible to identify the turtle embryo, it is recommended to carefully conduct an examination after a week. Instead of an ovoscope, you can use a flashlight or an ordinary lamp. During incubation of future turtles, it is necessary to observe the temperature and humidity in the incubator. If the reptiles do not hatch within 2-3 months, it is necessary to re-enlighten the eggs. The embryos could die due to violation of the ripening conditions.
Birth observation turtles
Most often, the egg ripening period is 103 days, the decrease or lengthening of this period mainly depends on the incubation temperature. Turtles cut the shell from the inside and remain in the egg for 1-3 days. It is highly recommended not to remove them yourself. To help make an incision, you can turtles, which can not make an incision of the required size. Help is also needed for babies forming a crack in the shell from the side of the sand or the place of contact with another egg. After 5 days, young turtles can be taught to swim, after another 2-3 days it is recommended to treat animals with the first food.
At home, red-eared turtles very rarely become pregnant and lay eggs. But with the successful selection of the pair, the creation of optimal conditions for keeping and the correct incubation of eggs, reptile lovers even in captivity manage to get pretty, smart turtle offspring.