Big Red, our female Red-foot tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) laid a fourth egg this weekend! The fourth egg joins the first three in incubation. Interestingly, incubation temperature determines the sex of the hatchlings. Eggs must be maintained at 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit: lower temperatures yield males and higher temperatures yield females. We are keeping keep the eggs at a temperature of approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit and we expect to have a mix of male and female hatchlings. Above, Jillian, a long-time Animal Embassy Animal Care Specialist is recording the weight of all four eggs.
By monitoring the weight, we should be able to measure the hatchlings' progress. Our newest egg weighs 50 grams, compared with 60 grams for those first laid. Above, we weigh the new egg and compare it to those that were laid first. There was roughly a 10 gram difference. It will be interesting for students, interns and staff to track their progress over the next 120-200 day incubation period.
Staff, interns and program participants all learn from and contribute to this process. Above, Connor carefully weighs the hours-old egg. Connor has been studying with Animal Embassy for several years in a one-on-one program. Today he had the honor of placing a brand new tortoise egg into the incubator.
Above, high school interns David and Kaitlyn help to weigh the clutch of eggs. David has studied with Animal Embassy since his kindergarten days at a local elementary school. Kaitlyn participated in our summer 2013 intern session and has stayed on with us as a long-term intern. We currently have five college interns and ten high school interns who volunteer with us at least one day each week.
Above, although Chris Evers (Animal Embassy Director/Founder) and Jillian have experienced this process more than once, they are always excited to be part of this fascinating experience.
Stay tuned for pictures of the hatchlings! Or, come and meet the parents at the Animal Embassy exhibit at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.