Sunday, 10 August 2014

Animal Magic

I have blogged about my tortoises before, particularly my adult spur thigh couple and their offspring. I find the trickiest part of breeding tortoises is catching the female laying, because if I miss it, so far I have never found the nest as they bury their eggs extremely well. I am unsure if I have missed Persephone laying her eggs last year and this year, or if perhaps she hasn't laid at all.
Persephone mowing the long grass!
This year there has been other exciting tortoise news. Talullah, my first tortoise laid her first eggs ever! She is a Hermanns tortoise and I think about 14 years. She was originally imported from Slovenia and sold over the Internet. There are many many tortoise imported into this country supposedly legally. They are supposed to be captive bred on farms in countries such as Slovenia, Bosnia and Hungary. As they are captive bred they can be imported legally under the CITES agreement. However there is a great deal of research that suggests that there are thousand more tortoises coming into Britain than the farms are able to produce. To me this suggests that the farms are a smoke screen for an illegal operation smuggling wild caught tortoises.

I suspect my poor Talullah was originally wild caught. She was too big to be the age suggested on the paper work and her shell had tell tale signs that suggested to me she had once been a wild tortoise. In the first few years that I had her she had several health concerns the most serious being Anorexia! Yes you read that right, she refused to eat and her weight became so dangerously low that she had a tube fitted and I had to feed her four times a day! When she recovered I though she would always be a more sensitive tortoise, needing extra care. I was wrong, over the past four years she has thrived and then on mid summers day, she laid her fist two eggs!

I was amazed when I candled the eggs to discover they were both fertile, however, only one continued to develop. I have not incubated Hermanns tortoise eggs before, they are much smaller than spur thigh eggs and apparently the development time is shorter, only around 56 days. That means the egg is due to hatch this week!
My Hens have also had an exciting couple over weeks, they got a henhouse upgrade! This was because next door got a dog. He is a young German Shepherd who is left in the garden during the day. Sadly I couldn't risk him jumping the fence and dining out on my free ranging ladies, so they got a bigger house with a run that they have to stay in when I go out.
The old house, when the run only closed for bed time.

The upgrade!

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