A Grand Entrance

Or should I refer to it as an exit? This week we’ve been having a thrilling experience, watching the hatching of the first of five Red Footed Tortoise eggs that I’d found and relocated back in February. These eggs were laid by our “herd” of four adult tortoises, kept as a preservation effort and to consume excess garden and kitchen waste. After nearly 5 months, I saw a tiny flake of shell coming loose from one of the eggs, so I relocated the egg once more to a safe indoor hatching box where we could monitor her (due to the high temperatures during most of the incubation period, I feel comfortable in guessing that any hatchlings will be female) progress and be sure that ants and predators could not harm her during the highly sensitive 3-day hatching period, and the subsequent few days during which she will continue to absorb the yolk sac through a large opening in her very soft lower shell. Hatching is a long and arduous process for these cumbersome creatures: the following photos were taken over a 3 day period.

February 8th, 2015 – relocated nest.
June 22nd, 2015 – first sign of hatching.


First breakthrough, 2nd day of hatching. Edge of carapice (shell) is visible.
Making a second hole.


Connecting the holes. After this, things started moving a little faster.
The outer shell starts to flake away, leaving the rubbery shell membrane mostly intact.
By turning around and around, the hatchling gradually pushes away the shell and membrane.

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Pillowed by a large yolk sac distending from her abdomen, she remained in the halfshell for several hours before making a surreptitious exit. Survival instinct fully intact, she burrowed in a corner of the box under some leaves.

Several days later, she is still absorbing the last of her yolk sac, after which time she will be more active and can be measured, weighed, and moved into a “nursery”. Meanwhile, another one has started to hatch!11659387_1126065527408617_3033775025635296965_n11709511_1126065540741949_5417514020753579232_nIf you have any questions about red footed land tortoises, don’t hesitate to comment below.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is our Coffee Morning for the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti! We’ll be serving delicious cinnamon buns straight out of the wood-fired oven along with coffee and juice from 10am til noon for a $10 donation, and we will have tables crafts, antiques, Queen Caribee preserves, and Nidulari products also available for sale. We’re located on Mahogany Road, just over a mile from F’sted and the West End beach – make a day of it with your family or friends!


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