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Egg Identification

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Hello Everyone,

I was out cleaning up by beds today, raking the pineneedles and came across eggs, partially buried under the needles. This is a 12' x 4' bed and there are well over 50 eggs. Could be as many as 70. I have a pond nearby and frequently get snakes and turtles. The eggs are semi-soft and round, kinda squishy. Some are quite small and others are the size of a small plum. I covered them back up as well as possible. My rake probably damaged a few.

Can anyone tell me what I have in my beds by these pictures? My camera is not great so this is the best I could do.

Thumbnail by knolan
Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Here is another picture. You can tell they are kind of clumped together in spots.

Thumbnail by knolan
The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

Knolan - Are they round or oblong?

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

They're round.

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

Turtle eggs are round. I just think you have several kinds of turtles from that pond, using your nice soft soil to dig and lay eggs in. I get them in my yard, too - from a pond nearby. I just can't figure out why the predators haven't got them yet.
I'm eager to hear what others have to say....

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

There is a large ant bed on the other side of the bed which I treated today. I get possums, racoons, skunks and armadillos. I'm pretty surprised nothing has found them either.

I do hope they're turtles. Love those guys.

DFW area, TX(Zone 7b)

Maybe all the foot traffic scares them away ?

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

I saw a turtle laying eggs last year in my neighbor's yard. Got permission from them to cover the spot with a big square of hardward cloth, then pegged it down. The very next morning, something had dug under the hardware cloth, and torn open eggs were all that was left. They can smell them. I am amazed that any survive. This is not my first encounter with this, and they have always been found and destroyed. This was the first time I tried to protect them.

DFW area, TX(Zone 7b)

OK - I'm asking a serious question. What if somebody
poured garlic juice in the area? Would that deter predators?

(You can chuckle now, if you feel so inclined, but I really want
to know)

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

I'll keep an eye on them and hope for the best. I'm not sure I want to go out and buy all the incubating materials, especially since I might have damaged them. I caught a turtle laying eggs in my backyard last year on Good Friday. Ants got to them.

I hope they make it.

Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

You don't have to buy anything. You just need to transfer the eggs to a safe haven and give them the same environment that they are in. So, a box of some type would possibly be a cost. You may have something that you aren't using for this purpose.

Another idea would be to dig down a couple of feet in a square and put some chicken wire around the nest and bend it over to prevent predation.

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Stelco.

I have a 10 gallon aqaurium that's not in use. Should I mix some soil, vermiculite and spagnum moss (got that off a website Ceejay sent me) and put them in there with an incubator light? Do you think handling them will be okay? They're very round and it will be hard to tell which way WAS up unless I move the aquarium around with me as I dig them up. I have a wagon....I can do that. That was a 'duh' moment, sorry. Hmm...I also have a 25 gallon, plastic storage box that's not in use. Should I keep them outside, inside, in the garage?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

i dont know if this will help you or not... but i read this thread the other day. Maybe the gal could give you some guidance

Great that you knew you had to keep the eggs up. Thats one little critical fact that some people don’t think to mention. Turtle eggs really should be handled ever so carefully and eggs should be repositioned exactly the way they were when they were found. You can take a black marker (pencils are too sharp and pointed) and place an arrow pointing to N on the top of each egg and then dissect that arrow with another line. This helps people reposition the eggs in the exact same orientation they were in before they were relocated. Sometimes merely moving an egg can rupture the membrane that attaches the developing embryo to the top of the shell but if you accidentally position the egg sideways in an incubator, that could place unnatural pressure on the membrane. If that membrane becomes compromised or detached, the life line to the little one has just been cut off.

Fireants are wiping out eggs of many turtle species so some people are incubating them in tortilla warmers to help out. A tortilla warmer filled with some of the same earth they were originally found in should work. You would want to keep the earth damp, not moist. I’m sure there’s information on the net about volunteers using cheap old tortilla warmers which everyone either has or knows somebody who has.

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

That's great information. Thak you Equilibrium. A tortilla warmer? I would have never guessed.

I think I'm going to have to try to protect at least some of the eggs. There are far too many to do them all.

Pretty bizarre, eh? It's one of those, "who woulda thunk" deals. I guess people do what they can to try to lend a helping hand. Exotic Fireants are a big issue down south.

So glad I told you to go on line to find information about volunteers using cheap old tortilla warmers- not. I just went on line to try to pull up a few sites and all I could find was information about how to cook turtle meat and turtle eggs for about 10 pages. Really sorry about that. What I recall reading is that the average tortilla warmer is just the right temperature for incubation. Since no information seems to be available on line other than how to prepare turtles and turtle eggs for a fine dining experience, they take the earth from the area where the turtle eggs were found. They place that in the bottom of the tortilla warmer. I was told they brought the tortilla warmer over to where the eggs were to reduce over handling them so the eggs could be placed directly into the make-shift incubator. They used a different marking system than what I suggested but I don't recall what it was however the end result was the same in that the orientation of the eggs would be the same in the tortilla warmer as it was where the eggs were found. After the eggs were placed in the tortilla warmer, it was then moved back inside her house. A spray bottle was used during the turtle egg "cooking" to keep the area damp. You would need to check on your tortilla warmer daily. Please don't help them break out of their shells. I know it is hard watching them struggle and I know some might not make it but this is for the best. After your new babies have hatched, you might want to take them right back to where the eggs were originally found so they can make their own way out into the world. You will be sharing photos won't you ;)

Here's another added little nudge to consider a tortilla warmer- the sex of many turtles depends on the incubation temperature of the egg not sex chromosomes. Higher temps around 88°-89° in some species generally result in females and lower temps for some species of around 79°-80° generally result in males. Most tortilla warmer hit a decent temp range to produce both males and females right on the money. If you want to find out what temps yours will attain, go to WalMart and get one of those $1 floating fish tank thermometers and stick it bottom down in the soil. The reading won't be perfect but for a buck you can get pretty close. If your temps aren't in a decent range, you could always add more earth or leave the lid partially cracked to help regulate temps.

If they hatch and you find you are a Red-Eared Slider Turtle Mommy, would you please consider taking them to a pet shop.

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Wow. I have a styrofoam tortilla warmer. Is that the kind you are talking about?

Looks like I have a new project. I've done tadpoles and butterflies...this will be a new experience.

My only question now....what if they're snakes?

Snake eggs... lucky you. I love snakes.

The tortilla warmer I saw used definitely wasn't styrofoam. It had a clear lid like a slow cooker and it was electric just like a slow cooker. The lid was all scratched up from use and you couldn't see through it. Mine is not electric and is some sort of a tan plastic but my MIL has an electric one. Give me a minute. Lemme see if I can find an image on line. If I can't find a photo on line, I'll take a photo of hers but I'm pretty sure I've seen them at WalMart. They're pretty common around here but we're in a heavily Mexican area so maybe we just buy them more out here by me than by you possibly?

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

I'm southeast Tx so I can probably find one. I've never seen an electric one. That's pretty neat. I'll bet Wally World has one.

If they're turtles, I'll definitely donate them to the pet store. If they're snakes, want them? Lol. Do snakes lay that many eggs?

This is like the one I have and it isn't electric-

This is like the one my MIL has but hers isn't red. Looks as if Salton makes them-

Some of the incubators they have out there are pretty darn cheap these days as many kids love to see chicks hatch. If you buy an actual incubator, just make sure you don't get one that automatically turns eggs. That's fine for chicken eggs but not great for herp eggs.

Oops, typing when you were typing. Depends on the snake but I don't think those are snake eggs even though I can't see the photo all that well. Time will tell ;)

Only donate them if they're Red-Eared Sliders. The turtles that are indigenous to TX should be released and probably couldn't be sold by a pet store anyway.

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

I can't believe that I have never seen a tortilla warmer like that. I cook alot!

Thanks for all of the wonderful info. Time will tell if my turtle mommy skills are up to par.

You've been deprived. You poor thing. All joking aside, if you don't already have one (we use hers for parties) I wouldn't buy one. They're sort of silly to own because how long do tortillas last? It's not like the family eats and then grazes on them all night long and we use ours mostly to keep them from drying out.

If you're going to try this without a tortilla warmer or incubator, you could easily create your own using a heating pad set to low that doesn't have an auto-off feature. You could pick up a rubbermaid or sterilite storage box to set on top of the heating pad. Those come with lids which would help out with humidity. I've done this to germinate seed before. You can regulate the soil temps by adding or removing dish towels from underneath the storage box. This is where the $1 floating fish tank thermometer comes into play.

You'll be fine. No need to invest a lot of money.

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

Have you done this, Equi? I have to wonder why it is necessary to heat up the turtle eggs when they are not heated up out there in the yard. Just curious......

It is very important to keep the humidity up .
I would put them in your aquarium ,with a gallon of water in a bucket .
Then a glass lid to keep the humidity in .
Include lots of the mulch from where you get the eggs .

These were 14 snake eggs .
The warmer the temp . The quicker they hatch .

Thumbnail by ginger749

This was all 14 of them on a branch over the water .
They were 10 inches long at birth .

Thumbnail by ginger749
The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

ginger - What kind of snake?

All info here .

Peoria, IL

They look like puff ball mushrooms to me.

Unlike turtle eggs ,
Snake eggs are all stuck in one bunch .

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Some of my eggs are stuck together like that. And they look like that, only smaller.

Turtle eggs are generally round and all individual .
If you really want / need to know . Cut 1 open .
Or , Hold 1 over a bright light bulb .
Sometimes you can see a shaddow inside . Kell

Eeeeek! Don't tell her to cut one open! For shame Ginger! For shame ;) Men! They simply think differently than women!

LOVE your snake photos Ginger!

Yes, ceejay. I've done them before inside and outside. Outside was accidental. Momma Snapper came in the night and dug a nice hole for her babies then promptly layed her eggs, covered them, then took off. I had little to do with the hatching of those. It was kind of funny to watch them one by one surface. Pretty wild actually. The eggs we found and "rescued" were in an area that was being excavated to build a new Mobil gas station. I could see some sort of eggs in the bucket that had scooped out a hunk of earth. I saw a chunk of the earth fall away and it exposed 8 or 9 eggs. Me and the kids had been watching the heavy equipment because boys like that kind of thing. The operator was real nice and stopped when I started frantically waving at him. I told him I had seen something in his bucket that I was pretty sure I wanted and explained what I thought it was so he gently placed the contents of the bucket back on the ground and told me to get out of there and get my butt back within a half hour. He was smiling so I figure he was a parent himself. We went home, grabbed a marker, dumped the contents of a sterilite box, then hauled our rears back to the site. We had an egg incubator here from a past project but it had an automatic turner so that was no good which was why I grabbed the sterlite box. We marked the eggs then transferred them one by one into the sterlite box that the kids had placed muddy earth in. We went the route of the heating pad. That was how I knew you could test the soil temps using the elcheapo WalMart floating fish thermometer and I already knew dish towels could be added or taken away to help regulate the temps from germinating seed. When they hatched they were about the size of a quarter. Not all of the eggs hatched but I think we got 4 or 5 all on the same day. Kids were really upset when one couldn't wiggle its way out of the egg. I would not allow them to help it and explained why. It passed away so they buried it outside. The rest of the turtles made it. The eggs ended up being Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta). We placed them all in the far back of the yard and they took off for the back pond. I'm sure there are still some around here. I was comparing notes with a girlfriend of mine who was a biologist in Florida. She was the one who told me folk down there were using tortilla warmers and why. She sent me photos of their "rescuees". I can't find her photos or I would have posted them.

Regarding the heat, they would have been perfectly fine without supplemental heat if it would have been possible to leave them where they were. As it was, the few that hatched are lucky I caught those spots of white in the bucket. The temps in most homes are around 70F. Move them out of the natural environment and now we've got to step in and attempt to re-create that which Ma Nature does so effortlessly.

The turtle eggs we've accidentally unearthed around here have been oval shaped. None have been laid above ground. All have been in clumps and were touching. I've never run into snake eggs. I wish I would run into snake eggs. That would be so cool if you ended up with baby snakes knolan!

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

Actually, we did cut one open when we first discovered them because we thought it was possibly a fungus. No way to tell from the insides what they are yet as they're still in the 'yolk' stage.

Well, I bought a good little box today and some soil, an aquarium thermometer and an extra heating pad. I'm willing to try, even if they are snakes. But, if they are, I'm going to do one of those little 'screaming and running and freaking out dances' and then I'll calm down and figure out who to give them to. I'm not a snake person but I'll allow them to live. My cat brought a live one in one evenging and DH jumped on the table. Funniest sight I've ever seen. So, you know who, got a towel, picked it up behind it's neck and threw it into the pasture. It wasn't a pleasant experience for me but I did it. Problem is, we have nasty water moccassins around here and those really scare me. My luck, if they are snakes, that's the kind they'll be.

I've cut open what I believed was fungus before so I can see that happening. I must admit I liked his candle idea better than cutting open an egg but then I like things that go bump and slither in the night.

I actually like the heating pad idea better than an actual incubator. At least you can use the heating pad again on your aching bones next time you have a marathon gardening session.

One thing, since you found the eggs on top of the soil you might want to put them back in your box on top of the soil. I partially buried ours because I could see they were a few inches under ground when we saw them.

Do you have a video camera? I'm told we're soon going to be able to post video clips here at DG so I'd like to see you do your snake jig (little 'screaming and running and freaking out dances' ) when the time comes. Aside from that, maybe we can all take a stab at identifying your babies (regardless of what they are) after they hatch. This is going to be so much fun. What a nice break from the winter blahs living vicariously through your find!

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

I'm glad I can entertain!

I'll definitely put them in the box with a little of the soil I bought but I'll dig up about 2" underneath and around them and include the pine needles and mulch. I'll try to maintain the environment they are already in as much as I possibly can. I noticed today that a few of them look as if they're drying up. I'll put the healthiest looking batches that I can find in my box.

I'll post pictures tomorrow and then as they progress. Sure wish I had a better camera.

A crowd please amongst us! Who would have thunk!

Try misting them with a spray bottle of water.

What ever camera you have will be fine.

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Equi! I would love to see the knolan "Dances with Snakes" too!!!!

Good luck, K.!!

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

The deed is done! Here we go.......

Thumbnail by knolan
Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

That was one of the little nests before I dug it up.

Here's their new home.....

This message was edited Feb 20, 2007 7:19 PM

Thumbnail by knolan

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