*Tortoises must grow large enough to determine gender, which is why it is impossible to confirm for hatchlings. We have had our best success confirming genders when our tortoises reach 5-6" in size.
Testudo graeca females are generally bigger than males.
Females have a short, stubby tail. Males of some subspecies may have a larger tail. Both genders have tails with a rounded, blunt end.
Adult males have a concave plastron while females have a flatter plastron.
Females have a cloacal opening closer to the body, while males have one closer to the tip of the tail.
Both genders of the ibera subspecies have a flexible plastron hinge, the female hinge is more flexible to allow room for egg laying.
Sexually mature tortoises will exhibit courtship behaviors such as biting, chasing, ramming, and mounting.
Males are aggressive and very persistent. Therefore we recommend having numerous females available for one male to prevent stress and damage to a single female.
Females are usually gravid between April and June. They can lay 1 to 3 clutches (sometimes more) per season. Nesting can take place at any time of the day.
Clutch sizes will vary, based on subspecies. Some females lay 3 eggs, while others lay more. Larger subspecies, like the T.g. ibera, will lay larger clutches.
Use only a "still air incubator." If the eggs are turned at all during incubation, the developing embryo will detach and die. We use the Hova Bator 1602N, which you can purchase here.
Humidity inside the incubator needs to be kept around 80%.
Temperatures between 82 and 85.6 degrees Fahrenheit will encourage male gender development.
Temperatures between 86 and 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit will more likely result in female gender development.
*PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT INCUBATING FOR A SPECIFIC GENDER IS NEVER A GUARANTEE. IT ONLY INCREASES THE CHANCE.
Incubation period is between 60 to 90 days.
Hatching can take a few days, so be patient and let the tortoise hatch on its own. Attempting to help it may risk harming the tortoise or puncturing the yolk sac which can kill it.
Once the hatchling has completely emerged from the egg, it will most likely still have a yolk sac. This will be absorbed within 72 hours.
Keep the hatchling on moist paper towels inside the incubator until it has completely absorbed the yolk sac.
Once the yolk sac is completely absorbed, we soak our hatchlings twice a day for 10 minutes.
You may offer fresh greens to the hatchling, which it may or may not eat right away. They are able to survive off their yolk sac reserves for a couple of weeks.
When the hatchling is ready to be moved out of the incubator, we recommend keeping it in a rearing unit for 6-8 weeks.
For our rearing units, we use a 32-Quart clear plastic tub. We line it with paper towels that are kept damp at all times and replaced daily. There are two cooler hides. Fresh food is available at all times. A 100-Watt basking bulb and T8 10.0 fluorescent UVB are on for 12-hours each day. A camera allows us to check in at any time, from anywhere.
When the hatchling is ready for a space upgrade, we move them into a hatchling enclosure. Check out our Hatchling Husbandry for details.