Turtle eggs have many natural predators. In many countries, turtle eggs are considered a delicacy and the eggs become the victim of nest poaching by humans. Besides humans, many animals pose a threat to turtle eggs, and they are also dependent upon fair weather for their incubation period. For some turtle species, the temperature of the nest itself will determine the sex of the turtle growing inside the egg. Sometimes turtle eggs simply get dug up by other turtles (this can happen intentionally as well as unintentionally).
Here is how to care for turtle eggs, should you find yourself in possession of one.
First, if you see a turtle digging a nest, keep your distance. You can retrieve the eggs later as turtles to not care for their young—they simply lay the eggs, cover them up and leave. If the female leaves a hole uncovered then she will not lay her eggs there. Make sure, when you go to retrieve the eggs that you make a note of the day the eggs were laid. Obviously turtle eggs vary, depending on the species of turtle that laid them. For the purposes of this article, the turtle eggs were laid by turtles from areas that are rainy and have moist soil.
Before retrieving the eggs, make a tray to hold them. Deli containers work well for this. Punch small holes in the top of the container to encourage air circulation. Mix together a soil solution in which to place the eggs. Sometimes you can use earth from the nest itself and other times you can make your own. Here is a sample recipe: one part peat moss, one part sphagnum and one part vermiculite. Soak the mixture and then squeeze out the excess water. Fill the container with your moistened mixture and make depressions in which to place the eggs. It is best to make extra containers just in case. Make sure your container is ready before you go to the nest.
When you are retrieving your turtle eggs dig carefully as the eggs are very fragile. Uncover the eggs completely before you move them. Use a black felt marker to place a tiny mark on the top of each egg and make sure that the egg is placed top side up into the container. When you put the turtle eggs in the container bury them mostly, but do not completely cover them. This will allow you to see if the eggs need moisture.
Close the containers and place them in an incubator at eighty four degrees. Typically eggs will hatch within fifty days if they are kept at an eighty four degree temperature. Make sure to move the container to a cool place if the outside temperature reaches the 90s so the eggs won’t spoil.
Make sure to check the containers once a week or so and wipe away any traces of mold with a cotton swab. After fifty days, start checking for hatchlings. Often, even though a turtle egg has hatched, the turtle will stay in the egg to absorb the rest of the yolk sack.