Winter was very mild and spring seemed to arrive early in South Carolina in 2016. Numerous turtles were mating in March and April, with many species at the Turtle Survival Center (TSC) nesting about two weeks earlier this year than during the previous two years.
June and July are the peaks of egg laying months, with TSC staff searching for nests in enclosures on a daily basis., and moving the eggs indoors for incubation for the duration of their development.
As of the second week of June, 17 species of turtles have produced eggs in 2016. More than 60 eggs have already been collected and are either incubating or have already hatched. Perhaps the most exciting highlights of the 2016 nesting season have been the successful hatching of three species never before bred at the TSC: Home’s Hinge-back Tortoise (Kinixys homeana), Forest Hinge-back Tortoise (Kinixys erosa, shown), and Sulawesi Tortoise (Indotestudo forstenii) The two hinged-back tortoise species are particularly significant because they are uncommonly bred in captivity, especially K. erosa. With seven more Kinixys homeana eggs currently half way through development, it looks like it’s going to be a very successful year for this species at the TSC.
Based on reproductive health assessments and radiographs of females, we are expecting about 130-150 total eggs from 18-20 species during the 2016 breeding season. The Asian Box Turtles of the genus Cuora represent a major conservation priority for TSC, and several species within the collection have already produced eggs, including the Yellow-headed Box Turtle (Cuora aurocapitata), Bourret’s Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti), Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), McCord’s Box Turtle (Cuora mccordi), and Southern Vietnam Box Turtle (Cuora picturata). Other endangered turtles, including Beale’s Eyed Turtle (Sacalia bealei), increase our species hatch counts. We expect the total annual number of eggs each year to increase significantly in the coming years as individual turtles become more acclimated to their outdoor enclosures and the local climate.