Early tortoise eggs

Source: dierenparkamersfoort.nl, photo by Abrahami
Due to the mild winter weather, Egyptian tortoises have laid their eggs earlier than expected. The eggs have been placed in an incubator and the keepers are waiting anxiously to find out if the eggs are fertile.
The first eggs were expected about now, but in mid-January the keepers saw that a nest had already been dug. Because the Egyptian tortoise is seriously endangered, the eggs are very welcome. The two eggs were dug up and transferred to an incubator kept at 32oC so that the tortoises will be female: tortoise sex is determined by the temperature during brooding. Males will hatch if the temperature is 30oC or below; at a little above 31oC, the young tortoises will be female. After about three weeks in the incubator, the eggs can be examined to see if they are fertile. Two years ago there were eggs laid, but they had not been fertilised.

Although the Egyptian tortoises are much smaller than the giant tortoise at DierenPark Amersfoort (adult individuals are approximately 15 centimetres), they lay relatively large eggs roughly the size of a ping pong ball. If the eggs turn out to have been fertilized, mini-tortoises will hatch after about three months.
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