Gopher Tortoises Hatch at CROW

provided to Santiva Chronicle

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is pleased to announce that two gopher tortoise eggs incubating since early June successfully hatched in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Aug. 27.

On May 26, an adult female gopher tortoise, patient #19-2066, was admitted to CROW’s wildlife hospital. The tortoise was found in the center lane of McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers after it was presumably struck by a vehicle while crossing the road. Veterinarians took radiographs to help determine the extent of her injuries and discovered she was gravid, the term used for a pregnant tortoise carrying eggs. On June 6, patient #19-2066 laid two eggs which rehabilitation staff immediately placed in an incubator. Sadly, she later succumbed to her injuries.

The eggs were placed in vermiculite, a substrate used for incubating eggs because it retains moisture without over-saturating the eggs, then kept in an incubator that maintained a constant temperature. After 82 days the eggs hatched overnight, much to the surprise of the rehabilitation staff on Tuesday morning.

“The expected hatch date for us was not until August 29, so it was a bit of a surprise to come in and find two newly hatched tortoises, even though it is within the expected time frame” said Breanna Frankel, CROW’s rehabilitation manager. “Both hatchlings are healthy and doing well.”

Each hatchling weighed in at just 22 grams with one being 4.7 centimeters and the other measured 4.2 centimeters. In the wild, gopher tortoises do not provide any parental care, so from the time they hatch, baby tortoises are on their own to find food and protection from predators. The two tortoises will remain at CROW’s wildlife hospital for a few days to ensure they are healthy and eating on their own before being released back to the area where their mother was rescued.

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