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Tortoise lays eggs! March 20, 2012

Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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The Science Center has a male and female red-footed tortoise, both which are used for educational programs throughout the Burlington Public Schools.

Shebly (female on left) and Fireball (male on right)

The female tortoise named “Shelby” laid eggs in her outdoor closure at Burlington High School.  We were lucky to catch the amazing event.

She had been exhibiting reproductive behaviors for several weeks.  First, Selby started digging her hole.

Then, she laid 4 plum sized white eggs.  Red-footed tortoises can lay 1-12 eggs (2-4 are most common).

Check out the video below as we filmed one of the eggs as it dropped out from beneath the tortoise!

Shelby then buried her eggs with the soil she had excavated to make the hole.  She used her flat feet to gently pat the dirt to cover them up.

Ms. P dug out the eggs and brought them inside so they would not get cold.   The tortoises eggs are in an incubator at the Science Center.  We will check them in 2 weeks using a machine called a “candler” to check if they are fertile.

It can take 3-4 months of  incubation before they hatch.

Click here to learn more about Red-footed tortoises.


1. Denise Keough-Lane - March 20, 2012

Burlington Science Center … thank you so much for sharing this amazing event! I can’t wait to see the bundles of joy in the coming months.

We are fortunate to have a Science Center that provides wonderful educational opportunities and experiences for our children.

Thank you!
Denise Keough-Lane
2nd Grade Teacher
Pine Glen School

2. Marianne Frazier - March 21, 2012

Thanks for sharing Science Center. That was fantastic.

3. Steve Levin - March 21, 2012

The Science Center is just amazing!
I can’t wait to share these videos with the kids, and especially those who are studying reptiles and amphibians. Thanks so much!

4. Amy - March 21, 2012

Kindergarten Room 173 says, ” we hope the baby tortoises hatch before we leave for the summer. Thank you for sharing the videos and pictures with us. We loved seeing them!

5. Christine Sheppard - March 21, 2012

Ms. P. We watched the video in science class.Here is there reaction and comments:
My class (Mrs. Webb’s) says congratulations Shelby and that was awesome. We hope the eggs hatch and they want to know what you will name them. They want to know why there are bumps on Shelby’s shell. Can you tell us whether Fireball is happy with this news. Were they mad when you dug up the eggs?
How did you come up with the name Shelby and Fireball?
They hope you respond back
Mrs. Sheppard’s science class.

bsciencecenter - March 21, 2012

You are welcome! We appreciate your kind words and thank you for everything you do for your students!

bsciencecenter - March 21, 2012

Thank you! I am not sure what we will name the tortoises. We will decide their names if and when they hatch.

I am very impressed that you all noticed the bumps on Shelby’s shell. Shelby’s bumps are called “pyramiding”, which means her shell is deformed. She was improperly taken care of as a young turtle. She was also fed the wrong food.

Fireball is very happy with the news and he still wants to make more baby tortoises.

I do not think they were mad. In the wild, the mother tortoise digs her hole, lays her eggs, covers them up and then leaves them alone to hatch.

Fireball was named by Mr. Papadonis. He said the nsame came from the fact that the turtle had red markings and moved very fast.

Thank you for your questions. I am glad you enjoyed seeing the eggs.

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