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Musks breeding - how long until they lay eggs?


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#1 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 07:04 AM

Looking for some advice because I have a couple of stinkpot musks that decided to get romantic. How long after copulation before the female will lay eggs? I see a lot of info on incubation but just don't know about the gestation period. Do we call it gestation in turtles? I'd like to know so I can prepare a nesting area before she drops her eggs.

#2 turtlefanatic

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 12:22 PM

I found this information on the website of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's page about common musk turtles:

"Mating occurs underwater with the male on top of the female. This generally takes place from April through early May, but has been reported during September and October as well. Female musk turtles will leave the water to nest up to 3 times during May to June."

So, from the above info, it appears as if it the time between mating and egg laying is approximately one month. The incubation time for musk turtle eggs is anywhere between 60-86 days.

#3 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 03:58 PM

So I guess the mating activity this late in the year is not so bizarre and come about Thanksgiving I'd better have made an arrangement for nesting. Thanks for the info.

I was able to google the web article you reference, very informative.

#4 Cheloniphile

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 04:45 PM

Hello, Turtling Ann, you're in for some good times. Musks are a very hardy species and breeding usually goes well with a high hatch rate. My last clutch of 9 had 100% hatch rate. As referenced in the fact sheet Fanatic sent, the maturation cycle of common musks is very rapid. Many of us as keepers inadvertently create an unexpected head start program when we keep our turts active year round.

For a musk, the time to sexual maturity is shortened as a function of water temperature and basking temperature. I've got a male that started "fanning" before he was 36 months out of the egg. If you aren't familiar with male turtle reproductive activities, see: http://scienceblogs....ns_of_male.php. Illucidating.

The normal development year for a musk in the northeast would be 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 months with the remainder of the 12 months spent in hibernation (actually, the correct word is "brumation"). because we keep them warm and active, they age and develop faster.

So... My 3 year old became sexually active about 3 weeks ago and it appears that he successfully mated with an 8-year-old female. She must, therefore, be subspecies Sternotherus odoratus cougarensis.

I'm expecting egg development before nesting to be about 30 to 40 days. If the water and air were around 7o to 72 degrees, it would be more like 45 to 48 days. My water is heated to 74 degrees this time of year, and my basking platform temps for this enclosure are 89 to 92 degrees, which also warms surface water temps. These external temps directly affect all metabolic processes in turtles.

As an aside - despite general discussion to the contrary - musks do bask and need UVB lighting. I will keep this female in a water depth that just barely covers her carapace. The water will be very heavy with water-logged, long-fiber sphagnum moss for hiding. Portions of the substrate will be built up so that in walking around her carapace will come out of the water and put her in contact with the UVB light which will only penetrate a small depth of water. There will also be shaded areas so she can get out of the light altogether.

This will be an F3 generation, meaning the great granddaughter of original wild caught stock. WC (wild-caught parent)--> F1 (first captive bred generation) --> F2 (2nd captive bred generation) --> F3 (3rd captive bred generation). The male is also an F2, but from a different blood line.

It's going to be fun for you. There are a lot of VERY knowledgeable people on this formum who know a lot about breeding and incubation. Stay active on the forum and use these people as a resource if you need it.

Best,
Paul

#5 turtlefanatic

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 05:17 PM

My 3 year old became sexually active about 3 weeks ago and it appears that he successfully mated with an 8-year-old female. She must, therefore, be subspecies Sternotherus odoratus cougarensis.

[:rofl]
Thanks for the laugh, Paul, and for the detailed info. It's always helpful to get the benefit of a member's practical experience!

#6 Cheloniphile

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 11:07 AM

Glad you picked up on my little quip, TurtleFanatic. I get to smile a lot watching turtle antics in my office all day. This one, though, struck me funny - kind of like a chihuahua with a glint in his eye as a great dane walks by.

#7 turtlefanatic

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 11:36 AM

I get to smile a lot watching turtle antics in my office all day. This one, though, struck me funny - kind of like a chihuahua with a glint in his eye as a great dane walks by.

:lol: I'm picturing that scenario...hearing Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes" playing in the background.

#8 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:37 PM

I get it. She's a cougar because he's only 3. I thought there WAS a cougarensis. Funny turtles and funny people. I am enjoying this forum stuff.

On a serious note, once eggs are laid I'll need an incubator, right? Because it will be winter and room temp will not be warm enough. Incubators sound expensive and complicated but I'll keep reading. Do people buy and trade eggs or just turtles? Lots of questions.

#9 Cheloniphile

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:13 PM

On a serious note, once eggs are laid I'll need an incubator, right? Because it will be winter and room temp will not be warm enough. Incubators sound expensive and complicated but I'll keep reading. Do people buy and trade eggs or just turtles? Lots of questions.


Incubation doesn't have to be either expensive or complicated. There are a number of home incubation set ups from egg cartons on top of the refriterator (I wouldn't) to a nice set up that's been around a long time. Mark Berry, aka CHELID on the forum, has tweaked the do it yourself version of an incubator to a fantastic yet simple level. His post on this forum about this, including a nice diagram, is at http://www.turtletim...bator-success/.

Of course there are commercial products such as the Hovabator or ZooMed's Reptibator that can be bought for around $100. These give some minor ease in temperature management, but I have gone with the do it yourself version which I'm now calling the Mark Berry model, for years, mostly with painted and musk eggs and with high levels of success.

When the time comes, do some forum searches on "incubator" and you'll have all the information you need. Be sure to share your thoughts and fears and experiences during incubation in a new post. It's this kind of dialog that keeps us all aware of new methods as well as makes us new friends.

Paul

#10 Cheloniphile

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:18 PM

:lol: I'm picturing that scenario...hearing Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes" playing in the background.


Smailing Frank and, of course,

#11 turtlefanatic

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 08:42 PM

[:off:)] Yep, that's the song! I'd forgotten that Doris Day had also recorded it. I sang along as I watched the video, LOL. Enjoyed seeing all the pics of her when she was young. Thanks for the memories, Paul!

Ginger

#12 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 08:30 PM

Ok, guys. I finally figured out how to reduce a picture to avatar size using MS Office Picture Manager. Since most of you guys post pictures of your favorite turtle types as your avatar, I put up a common musk for my avatar. Wouldn't my dad be proud that my image is a stinkpot. I bet he would think that its appropriate based on how I would wake up in the morning before school.

#13 turtlefanatic

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 09:10 PM

[:clap] Good job on the avatar, Ann!
As far as your image being that of a stinkpot, it may interest you that a web page of the Tortoise Trust describes common musk turtles as "fascinating...feisty - and completely engaging." So you should be proud to be associated with stinkpots!

Edited by turtlefanatic, 01 November 2011 - 09:11 PM.


#14 Cheloniphile

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 01:29 PM

I like it! Mine is one of my Blanding's, it came with the turtle a few years ago.

As to choice of musk and it's relfection on you, I agree with Ginger - Musks are wonderful beasties and provide a lot of enjoyment. At least you picked your Forum name before picking your avatar. It's better to be TurttlingAnn than StinkpotAnn.

#15 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 12:41 PM

I like it! Mine is one of my Blanding's, it came with the turtle a few years ago.

As to choice of musk and it's relfection on you, I agree with Ginger - Musks are wonderful beasties and provide a lot of enjoyment. At least you picked your Forum name before picking your avatar. It's better to be TurttlingAnn than StinkpotAnn.


Even that would be better than MuskyAnn. I'm guessing from replies on this topic that I might see hatching activity sometime between Thanksgiving and mid December, so I'll be posting a lot and asking questions.

#16 Parkeri1313

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 08:34 AM

here's the essential schematic for a very simple DIY incubator I have made. if you want more info about it, e-mail me anytime.

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#17 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 11:25 AM

Hi, Mark Berry -

I've been meaning to log on and say thank you. Paul who is cheloniphile on this forum posted your drawing and a link to your past discussions on this incubator approach in an earlier reply to my questions. He did give you all credit for it and recommends it. I tried to make one in advance and did everything like your drawing and explanation except the heater I tried to use didn't work so I have to get another at the pet store. Is there any particular model that you would recommend? I know some heaters are preset to 78 degrees and can't be adjusted. Is this warm enough or should I plan on warmer? I appreciate any info you might give me.

Ann

#18 Cheloniphile

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:56 PM

I'm not confident with the pre-sets. I've used inexpensive one from Pet-something (never can keep Co and Smart straight in my mind), but I've had them fail, either over heating or burning out and not heating at all. I'm running one now in a new hatchling setup (tank within a tank, kind of like Mark's incubator but with a shallow water pan instead of an incubating substrate). It seems to be working OK but I check it several times a day just to be sure.

Because you're only heating a small volume of water to keep the substrate warm, you probably only need a small heater of between 10 and 25 watts. The only presets I know max out at 78 degrees f - you'll probably want something that gives you control betweem 75 and 85 degrees. the lower temps generally hatch out more males than females, the higher temps hatch out more females. The 78 degree preset temp would be toward the higher end of the "male" hatching temps.

Mark (Chelid) has used this setup for, I believe, 5 species. Hopefully he will see this thread and add input.

Paul (Cheloniphile)

#19 TurtlingAnn

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 05:22 PM

Yeah. I get the two stores mixed up too. I think they pretty much sell all the same things and the prices aren't too different so which ever one is closer. I have takin my female musk out of the regular tank and put her in a big plastic tub with potting soil and pearlite. I have a smaller tub with water in it deep enough to cover her with an inch to spare. I still have a basking light hanging over it. She was dragging dirt into the water so I put a small piece of carpet down and trailing into the water. she seems to like that and stays on the carpet. I guess it heats up. So now I am just waiting to see if she lays egg. I read about palpating or palpatating her but I really don't know how to do that. Any suggestions?
Ann

#20 Parkeri1313

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:32 PM

the heater ... get a bigger one than 10W. I have a 50W in my incubator. whatever brand Petsmart/Co sells is what I bought. It may have been on sale. those small heaters you cannot adjust the temps with are no good for this application IME.

my incubator is about 2'Lx1'W'1'D so it's kind big and thus requires a bigger heater.

any incubator you build you need to set up completely and have running before you get any eggs so you can ensure successful incubation. this means having the heat at the correct temperature as well. so no matter how you build this thing have the heat constant long before the eggs get there.

I've never had any success in palpitating my gals. Must come with more experience I guess. IDK a vet can X-Ray your turtle (for a $$$) and show you if their are any eggs in there. just a thought.

any photos of your set up and laying area may help us determine if you need to do something different or not. photos of your turtle (tail in the photo) may help see any issues as well.

Edited by CHELID, 12 December 2011 - 05:38 PM.





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