Indian Star Tortoise Breeding Project

We are once again breeding Indian Star tortoises! They were our first tortoises back in 1999 and we were able to produce only one hatchling in 2006. But now, we've also made it our goal to breed this beautiful species again

The Indian Star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a beautiful tortoise native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They were named for their star like patterns on their shells which varies by their three geographical variants or morphs: southern India, Sri Lanka, and northern India and Pakistan. This star pattern is an effective means of camouflage in their environment.

Other species of tortoises that exhibit a star-like, radiating pattern are Burmese Star (Geochelone platynota), Radiated (Astrochelys radiata), Spider (Pyxis arachnoides), Flat-backed Spider (Pyxis planicauda), Pancake (Malacochersus tornieri), Geometric (Psammobates geometricus) and Tent tortoises (Psammobates tentorius).


All Three Eggs Eventually Hatched Within 1 Week!

From Chalking to Hatching

This batch is a perfect example of tortoise egg development because it showed all the signs of a fertile egg; from chalking, to seeing veins when candling, and eventually hatching. As expected, all three eggs that chalked are fertile and the one that did not eventually went bad and started to smell after around 3 months.

This third one is even more special because 1 month prior to hatching, I noticed that the egg had already cracked and leaked. I had to seal it up but I wasn't sure if it would survive. I am so thankful that it did!

star tortoise hatchling

Three little Indian Star tortoise hatchlings

star tortoise hatchling

I got the 2 from the nursery and put them inside the incubator for a few pictures

star tortoise hatchling

The first hatchling is curious about the third

star tortoise hatchling

indian star tortoise egg

Urging the third one to come out already! :p

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Second One Is Out!

Only One Day Apart

Unlike our two Radiated hatchlings that hatched nearly 3 weeks apart, these 2 Indian stars hatched almost in sync. There is a 3rd fertile egg that I'm hoping would hatch too. Unfortunately, I noticed it leaking 3 weeks ago so it doesn't look very good.

Indian Star hatchling

Indian Star hatchling

Indian Star hatchling

It is always exciting to discover new hatchlings inside the incubator!

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Hatch Day for Our Star Tortoise Baby!

After 145 Days

Laid on September 16 of last year, the first egg took a total of 4 months and 23 days to hatch. It may sound like a long wait for some. But it is always exciting for me to watch tortoise eggs hatch! Definitely worth the wait!

Indian Star tortoise egg has started pipping, which is when they get their nose out of the egg shell. They use their "egg tooth" just right below their nose to pierce through the egg.

tortoise egg pipping

tortoise egg pipping

tortoise egg pipping

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Tortoise Egg Development

The clutch of eggs that were laid on November of 2015 were not fertile. We had to add another male Star tortoise to the group just to be sure we get fertile eggs this time around. Fortunately, the next clutch several months after that looks good!

Chalking and Veins

To know if the tortoise eggs are fertile, you can check for the 2 most obvious signs 1) chalking and 2) formation of veins.

chalking of tortoise eggs

Here you can see the eggs are chalking, which are the white spots on top part of the eggs. The egg at the upper right of the photo is not chalking and this usually means the egg is not fertile.

candling tortoise eggs

Veins can be seen when doing the process called candling. It's basically just putting a small flashlight or LED penlight on the surface of the egg in a dark room. By doing so, you'll be able to see veins forming inside the egg if the eggs are fertile.

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Retrieving Star Tortoise Eggs

Digging out the eggs

Star Tortoise Eggs

We made sure that she was completely finished with the process of digging, laying and covering her eggs because we didn't want to disturb her

Star Tortoise Eggs

Trying not to break any of the eggs

Star Tortoise Eggs

I got the first one out

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Female Star Tortoise Finally Laid Eggs!

Finally!

After waiting for more than 4 weeks after her X-Ray, she finally got 3 eggs out of her system. I'm sure she is as relieved as I am.

star tortoise breeding

Star tortoise breeding

From here one can clearly see 1 egg and a hint of a second egg on the left side of the hole

Star tortoise breeding

Digging deeper and deeper. In this photo, she hasn't laid any eggs yet.

Star tortoise breeding

She looks very focused and determined

Star tortoise breeding project

In this photo, she's completed the laying process. She is now covering up the nest.

Notice her hind legs trying to move some of the eggs to make way for the next egg

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Star Tortoise Weight: Before and After Laying Eggs

I always make sure I weight all our tortoises regularly. I'm glad I was able to take note of our Star female's weight before and after she laid eggs.

Tortoise Weight Before and After Laying Eggs

1460 grams after laying 3 eggs

Tortoise Weight Before and After Laying Eggs

1546 grams before laying 3 eggs

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Photos of the Star Tortoise Breeding Group

These are the tortoises that make up the breeding team

I just love this group! Very beautiful.

Star tortoise breeding

Star tortoise breeding

Star tortoise breeding

Star tortoise breeding

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X-Ray of Female Star Tortoise with Eggs

I was worried about our female Star tortoise because she was digging for several weeks but never really laid any eggs. So I went to the clinic to get her an X-Ray to be sure she is not egg bound, a condition which can be fatal to tortoises.

3 eggs can be seen in the X-Ray. The thickness of the eggs look normal and not over-calcified. There doesn't seem to be any blockage either. So the only thing to do now is to wait for nature to take its course. I just have to make sure she is given a suitable nesting spot, fed well, and given sufficient calcium supplements.

xray of star tortoise with eggs

X-Ray taken on October 4, 2015 in Vets in Practice, Madaluyong

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