I haven’t blogged in an age. I blame the snow. We’ve had lots of it. I didn’t blog about the snow because everyone had snow. There was nothing particularly interesting about mine.
And I didn’t blog because I was tired. Remember that snow part? I live in a neighborhood that is lovely all other times of year, but during snow and ice, it’s impassable. In order to get to work, I had to hike to the main road for someone to pick me up. Then at the end of the day, I had to walk home. Carrying all my stuff. So early bedtimes and no blogging. But I don’t mind one tiny bit. I’d walk through snow AND fire to get to my job.
Ever have a job that’s made of magic? I do. Every day the sun rises, I get to do something I love. Each shift brings its own lessons, disappointments, satisfactions. And this year promises to be the best yet.
This is the year of potential. There are more species, families, and orders represented in our wardrobe-sized incubators than I have seen in the four years I’ve been peeking into incubators. Tortoises, turtles, and even lizards. Give me a few months, and I may even get to toss a clutch of snake eggs in there, too. One of my pairs of pythons has knocked some boots recently, so I am hopeful.
Chicken eggs hatch out with unfailing predictability in 21 days. Reptiles are different. So many variables come into play. Species, the presence or absence of a diapause, humidity, and temperature all come into play when hatching reptiles. Typically, an incubation period will be 60 days or longer, sometimes much longer.
Here’s the cool thing. Every few weeks, we take a peek to see how things are cooking. It’s like witchcraft. A dark room, a decent, focused light source, and poof! We see what’s going on in the egg.
Here are two eggs from Red-footed tortoises, Chelonoidis carbonaria. These images were taken on January 28, about a month after they were laid. Click to enlarge.
Note the uniform color. This egg is an empty. Nothing but goo in here. We’ll keep it until we are absolutely certain, but it’s probably a dud.
There’s something going on here! The beginnings of veining means this egg is fertile!
I’m excited about these eggs. The animals are new to our collection. They have bred before, and it’s a very common species, but this is the first time I’ve been in charge.
And here is a shot from March 1. Click to enlarge. There’s some detail that’s hard to see at this size.
You’re looking at a baby tortoise. An embryo. If I m not mistaken, its head is toward the left. I watched it move. It has months to go before it hatches, and I saw it wiggle. Mind = blown.
And here’s your bonus. Oustelet’s chameleon egg. Furcifer ousteleti. In real life, this egg is the size of my index fingernail.
This is pretty cool. The dark dots are the earliest sign of development. Note the veining to the left. Things are happening here, finally!
This chameleon egg was laid… wait for it… in July. And we didn’t see any development until a month ago. If this egg hatches, it likely won’t happen until… wait for it… July. This particular species takes an age to incubate – an average of 9-12 months. The babies will be smaller than my pinkie, miniscule copies of the adults. Is it July yet?
In another month, I’ll take a few more pictures and see what’s new in egg-land. And though it’s only March, hatching season has already gotten off to a very good start. Watch for info on our first three babies very soon.
What’s the best job you’ve ever had?