If you recently got turtles as pets, it is only natural to understand their life cycles. The same applies if you are curious about turtles. One of the most crucial aspects of understanding their life cycles is to learn how long it takes for their eggs to hatch.
Turtles tend to live very long, some living for many decades, both males and females. When a turtle’s eggs hatch, it will determine when the turtle hatchlings are born; that way, you can calculate their lifespan. But how long does it take for turtle eggs to hatch?
This article explains the length of time it takes for these eggs to hatch. It also discusses a few factors affecting the hatching process and what may affect it if left unchecked.
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Length of Time It Takes for Turtle Eggs to Hatch
There is no specific length of time for turtle eggs to hatch. But it generally takes two to three months from laying the eggs to complete hatching. That means it can be between 60 to 90 days. Sometimes, it may take as long as 120 days for the eggs to hatch.
The duration depends on the species. There are several turtle species in fresh water and the ocean, each with a unique course for egg hatching. Therefore, there is no uniform time that cuts across all species.
The hatching time depends largely on how well the eggs incubate, and incubation time depends on factors such as humidity, temperature, and the nest’s depth. To understand how to calculate the hatching time, let’s look at when turtles are most likely to lay eggs.
When Turtles Lay Eggs
Turtle eggs typically require warm temperatures to incubate and hatch. So, most turtle species usually lay their eggs during the warmest months of the year, which is between May and July. This is the best incubating and nesting season. Also, turtles typically lay their eggs on land instead of water, whether freshwater or saltwater turtles.
Once they are due, the female turtles will look for moist warm soil to dig and lay the eggs. It may take them about an hour to lay the eggs; sometimes, it takes as long as three hours. Then, they cover the nest for proper incubation.
Possible Number of Eggs Per Clutch
A mother turtle may lay as little as two eggs per clutch or as many as 110 eggs per clutch. The number depends on the size, age, and species of the female turtle. Since they can have more than one clutch per season, you may find that a turtle lays as many as 140 eggs with an interval of one month.
The following are common turtle species and how many eggs you may find in their clutch:
- Leatherback turtles – Between 100 and 110 eggs
- Sea turtles – Between 80 and 120 eggs
- Slider turtles – Between 2 and 30 eggs
- Mud turtles – About 5 eggs
- Snapping turtles – Between 20 and 40 eggs
- Box turtles – Between 4 and 9 eggs
- Flatback turtles – Between 50 and 60 eggs
- Painted Turtles – Between 4 and 10 eggs
From the list above, it is clear that some species lay more eggs per clutch than others. These numbers will also affect how well the female turtle can incubate them, especially if she wants to sit on them. Let’s explain the process for a few of the most popular species.
How Long Does It Take for Sea Turtle Eggs to Hatch?
It takes about two months or 60 days for sea turtle eggs to hatch. To improve their chances of surviving, female sea turtles protect or hide their nesting site from predators, such as raccoons and foxes.
And once they are born, the hatchlings can disappear into their natural habitat for the next one or two years. They may reappear to live in the wild, but most adapt to ocean water. You can expect sea turtle eggs to hatch between midnight and early morning.
However, this depends on the environment since no one can tailor nature to match any specific timetable. When properly incubated, expect to see new sea turtles quickly.
How Long Do Snapping Turtle Eggs Take to Hatch?
It takes about three months for the eggs of a typical snapping turtle to hatch. This duration can vary between 80 and 90 days, depending on the environment and the weather. The hatchlings typically break the leathery egg shells open with the caruncle from August to October.
Snapping turtles are freshwater species that you may find in Florida and Nova Scotia. But while they spend a lot of time under fresh water, they come to land to lay their eggs and incubate them until hatching. The depth of the nest they make depends on the turtle’s size.
The larger the turtle is, the more she can extend her flippers, which means the hole can be deep. It is important to note that the eggs of a snapping turtle may be too close to the water or even under the water.
That means the incubation nest will be too cold for the eggs to hatch. As a result, relocating the eggs becomes necessary, but you cannot do it yourself. Only trained hands can do this.
How Long Does It Take Box Turtles to Hatch?
It takes about two months or 60 days for box turtle eggs to hatch. That is if they survive the predators and attackers, such as birds of prey. If the process goes according to nature, the eggs should hatch around early fall or late in the summer.
Sometimes, the hatching delays, and the baby turtles emerge too late in the fall. If that happens, they remain within the nest until the winter is over. Then, they start to emerge when spring comes around.
But the hatchlings do not immediately emerge from the eggs; they stay a few days to absorb as much of the yolk as they can. This gives them enough strength to stand on their own for survival because the adult turtles will not care for them after hatching.
If the eggs survive the incubation period, they hatch and can live as long as 20 years. Some may even live up to 40 years, but this means they must get proper care, and box turtles are high-maintenance pets.
Factors Affecting the Hatching Duration
Several factors are crucial when it comes to how long it takes for turtle eggs to hatch. Some of the most crucial ones include temperature, exposure to light, and humidity levels.
As mentioned, the temperature is one of the most important factors that determine when a turtle’s eggs hatch. When the eggs mature, it may take as little as 48 hours for them to hatch if the temperature is ideal.
The ideal temperature is warm and highly humid; the temperature should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit for quick hatching. Warmer temperatures mean quicker hatching.
On the flip side, the eggs take longer to hatch if the temperature is cool. So, if you expose the eggs when the weather is cool, it will prolong the hatching time. This is especially true if the eggs are mature or older.
2. Exposure to Light
Too much light has the same effect on a turtle’s eggs as cool temperatures. In other words, if you expose the eggs to light, it will take too long for them to hatch. Turtle eggs need to be incubated away from light and cold air to speed up the process.
Protect the eggs from light if you are eager to see your pet turtle’s eggs hatch within a short period. Of course, it is still dependent on the species and how old the eggs are. You will notice that the turtle burrows them into the sand or sits on them. But you can help warm and cover them when necessary.
There must be high humidity for turtle eggs to hatch. That is why the female turtle naturally looks for moist warm soil to make a nest for the eggs. That environment is ideal for incubating the little ones until they hatch.
It is important to note that certain changes in their location or environment can delay the hatching process. For example, if you move the eggs from their incubation point to a plastic bag, they will not hatch as quickly as you want. Using a warm incubator can help speed it up because it will promote humidity.
4. Egg Age
The eggs’ age will determine how quickly they hatch. The longer an egg stays, the longer it will take to hatch. In other words, older eggs will hatch later than younger ones.
However, as with other factors, it depends largely on the surrounding temperature, light exposure, and the level of humidity in the nest. That is why trained professionals sometimes move the eggs to a warm incubator to help them hatch faster in a conducive environment.
It takes a long time for the eggs of a turtle to hatch, regardless of the species. Some take two months or 60 days, while others take three months or 90 days. A few species may take as long as 120 days, especially if the hatching conditions are not favorable.
If you have turtles with eggs that are taking too long to hatch, you may want to move them to a better and more conducive environment. Better still, have trained hands safely move them so they can hatch quickly.