photo by Mary Hopson
Breeding Geoemyda spengleri requires at least two healthy adults. While that may seem obvious, it can be the most difficult part of the process. The imports have been notoriously fragile, with multiple health issues. Their small size appears to make them more vulnerable to starvation related organ failure, which does not necessarily kill them quickly. In fact, sick imports have been known to improve, begin eating, and even showing an interest in mating, only to go rapidly downhill and die of kidney failure months later. Getting males healthy enough to produce sperm seems particularly challenging. It can take years of excellent care to reach that point. Even then, this species appears sensitive to poor conditions. Allowing the water to get fouled, or the substrate too dry, can cause one or more of the animals housed there to develop a life-threatening infection. People who wish to keep and breed this species will have to be very devoted to the process, willing to pay vet bills, and patient enough to wait for the animals to be ready.
Some successful breeders keep males and females separate much of the year, introducing them in the spring. This will generally prompt a flurry of mating activity. Again, this is something that isn't required for successful breeding. I keep my group together.
I've used a variety of media with good results. Many people prefer vermiculite, with an equal measure of water, with the eggs placed in indentations. Covering with a layer of moist sphagnum moss is often recommended. I have used that setup and produced hatchlings. However, I now prefer to use cypress mulch instead of the vermiculite, because it seems to prevent molds/fungi better. I still cover them with sphagnum moss. I mist the "incubator" every day, and check for moisture levels, sometimes adding a bit of water. The substrates are in a small plastic box, covered very loosely.
I have had trouble getting incubators to maintain a temperature below that critical 82º. Even when they seemed to stabilize correctly, it would hit that deadly mark at some point, and every embryo would die in the shell. Many people prefer to incubate at room temperature, so I decided to try that, even though my home temperatures ranged from 65 at night to 68-70 during the day, which I feared might be too cool. All the eggs in that clutch hatched. They took up to four months. The incubation period varied depending upon temperature. If a temperature can be maintained at 79-80º, hatchlings should appear in approximately five or six weeks.
More baby pictures!
Not quite born yet, a newcomer peeks out of the egg.
© 2007 Mary Hopson, Anchorage, AK