General Care Discussion :: Gravid turtle - help!

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:26 am   Gravid turtle - help!

Hey everyone, I need some help/advice.

For around a month, I've been struggling with a female YBS of around four years who has been exhibiting gravid behaviour. It started in mid-March with constant escape attempts, loss of appetite, scratching and worse. She even burned her head on the heat lamp in one attempt to escape (I since treated the burn and it's looking good). I didn't notice what the problem was immediately, because even though I raised her and another female YBS from hatchlings, I've never had to deal with this before as neither of them have ever been gravid, or acted gravid.

In early April after recognizing the signs, I set up a nesting box for her using about 4 inches of topsoil in a 30 gallon container. She never laid eggs in the box, but after one two hour stint in there, I caught her eating eggs she'd laid in the water. I counted at least three. She ate them very quickly.

After that she was quiet so after a few more days I assumed she'd gotten it out of her system. I figured she'd most likely laid more eggs than I'd seen and disposed of the evidence when I wasn't looking. She was quiet and behaved normally for weeks.

Over the last few days she has started to exhibit the same over-excited behaviour. Although maybe not as frantic as before, she has been scratching and attempting to escape, the only real difference is that she's now eating anything I feed her, so her appetite is good. It's still a problem though - yesterday I caught her on her dock (it's an above-tank turtle topper) just as she managed to flip herself upside-down on her shell in an attempt to escape.

Image

I can't *feel* any eggs and she's not laying more when I put her in the box. I've yet to see her lay any more eggs in the water.

Is there something else I could be doing to help her along? Is it possible after all this time that she is now eggbound?
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:05 am   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

Have you tried letting her find a nesting spot outdoors? Does she do her escape routine roughly around the same time each day?
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:26 am   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

When she was first gravid, it was more or less constant, now it's less so, but if there is a rhythm to it, I've yet to figure it out. Sometimes it's during the day, sometimes it's in the middle of the night. She's in the box right now (11.23am) and I had her in there last night between 1 and 3 am. Basically I've been putting her in there for two hours whenever I notice her playing up unless I feel like her last time in the nesting box was too recent.

I've not tried letting her find a nesting spot outdoors yet. How would you recommend going about it? What sort of area would I need to take her to? I live in an apartment building in NYC, I don't have a garden.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:57 pm   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

The window might be closed for her to lay them and she might just expel them into the water. I would only try to use the box when she's showing the symptoms but success is usually very limited to begin with.

Areas with soft soil is usually preferred like in a garden.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:25 pm   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

When should I start worrying?
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:05 pm   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

I would just continue to keep an eye out for any other unusual symptoms.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:56 pm   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

When I tried to use a nesting box my turtle spent all her time trying to escape from it.
You can reserve the nesting box outings for when she is going absolutely psycho and making those insane attempts to escape.
One time Penelope was gravid but never laid eggs in the nest I made, then she was no longer gravid, but I didn't know. I mistook "Hey, look at me and give me food" for "Let me out I want to get these eggs out!" After many sleepless nights I gave up and all was well. The next year she went psycho crazy again and laid eggs. The point being, what you saw before you caught the eggs in the water is likely what she will act like when she is gravid again.
PS - please don't keep your little angel on her back any longer than necessary. The lungs are on top, so when a Turtle is on their back, all their organs are pushing on their lungs. ouch
"I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights"
~ "Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories" by Dr. Seuss ~
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Post Posted: Tue May 09, 2017 10:10 pm   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

Hey, thanks for the advice.

Yeah, I righted her as quickly as I could, I just had to remove the lid from the dock to right her and my wife took the photo, I know better than to let her stay on her back like that.

After I posted last, I had to go to New Orleans for three days, during which time I monitored her by a security camera and she managed to escape in a very unlikely way. My tank right now is tied together with zip-ties, tape and egg-crate covering every route this turtle has used to climb or push her way out. She managed to chip a scute on the rear of her shell and my friend found her underneath a laundry hamper.

Anyway, she spent a day in a bucket until I could get back to fix up the tank to a point where she couldn't escape again. After that I put her back in the tank and caught her scratching. I put her back in the nesting box, then... almost a week ago now, she just stopped. No more odd behaviour, apparently back to her old self.
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Post Posted: Wed May 10, 2017 12:37 am   Re: Gravid turtle - help!

Wow! she really wanted out!
Glad to hear she is back to just chilling out. Let's hope everything remains calm....until next year :)
"I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights"
~ "Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories" by Dr. Seuss ~
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