As breeders, we dig up the eggs and mark them up so we know who the mother is and when they were laid. The photo shows the eggs with the laying date written on.
The sex of the baby tortoise is mainly determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. In order to get a higher proportion of female babies we incubate the eggs at 32 degrees C for 65 days before they start to hatch. If we wanted to have male babies we would incubate the eggs at 27 degrees C for about 72 days.
They can’t be sexed immediately, once they are 3 to 4 years old the shape of their tail changes and we can then determine for certain they are males or females.
As soon as the baby tortoises have hatched we put them in a shallow bowl of water and they’ll drink straight away. Once they’ve finished, we dry them and put them into the enclosure where they are a minature carbon copy of mum.
Theoretically the tortoises could go to their new homes straightaway, but at West Berks Tortoises we prefer to keep them for a year to make sure they are all healthy happy tortoises before they are ready for their new homes.