Egg laying bin questions and answers

Seeco

New Member
There are some great threads running right now about laying bins but I just got this email from a customer so I figured I'd post her questions and my response. One quick thing I'll add is that, regarding the trashcan laying bin method, it is really hard to extract eggs from such a deep container.

So here it is, the advice I give is for a first time gravid Kinyongia multituberculata:

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Hi Louis,

I am starting to think about breeding my female after the first of the year (probably around late January) so I wondered what I should do to prepare her cage-do you have a separate cage you move her into when you think she is close to laying the eggs or are your females in cages with deep enough substrate all the time (8-10”-right)Right now her cage is fairly heavily planted with a reptibark substrate that is only a couple of inches deep so I will need to change that out and I thought it might be best to prepare her cage before I introduced the male so she isn’t too overwhelmed by changes. Also, what type of incubator do you use? Hope all is going well with you. Everyone here is doing very well. Thanks!

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This is great news but first I have some questions for you!

How big is your female?
How is her girth compared to the males of the same age?
If she has already begun to lay and bury infertile eggs would you know without doubt?
How has her coloration changed over time and do you have before and after photos you can send me?

Assuming that she is ready to breed (or if you just want to go for it) here is what I recommend:

Remember that the timing of egg formation and incubation is flexible and you may not be able to schedule everything just right around travel and work plans. Females do SEEM capable of holding off for a few days until given a proper laying site but if you have a female, you need to always be ready for eggs. You can start taking these steps now before you breed in January.

Is it a rectangular screen cage? I do not use those cages but I've always wondered if you could just get a cage liner and fill the bottom half of the cage with dirt and pack it down. The problem might be that if she reaches an edge and see light through the screen she may refuse the whole setup. She also might just tear at/through the screen or whatever else you might line the cage with, but it is a possible idea.

My females never have substrate until they are obviously ready to lay. The problem with permanent soil in the cage is that it becomes too wet from misting/dripping while you are waiting for her to lay. What I do is keep her extra hydrated in advance, prepare a separate laying cage/bin without a water hookup, and then transfer as late as I feel possible. Lightly manually misting is necessary and safe in the laying bin, just to hold off dehydration.

I find tubs like this below to be the best but whatever you get just make sure the lip is straight all the way around so that you can easily improvise a lid if necessary. You may also need to drill some holes in the bottom to keep the soil from holding too much water. The tub:

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1326590

(This is like a six pack of tubs so don't order this exact item unless you can use that many. My single tub costs under $10)

If you need a lid, a square window screen in its frame is great, just sit a reflector dome lamp right on top for weight and light. UVB may not be necessary for her stay but it is up to you. A stick can be driven into the soil under the lamp as a way for her to reach the heat.

The soil should be naturally dense but not excessively clayey. It must be from 60 to 75 degrees by the time you add the female. If it is very organic, leafy, or fluffy, you can add sand. 10 inches is the minimum depth in the bin.

Once you acquire your soil you may need to moisten it by adding water and turning it with a shovel or really getting in there with your hands (a second bin or small garbage can is helpful for this). I often find and remove many rocks or bits of glass at this phase. This is also a great step to determine if you soil is really suitable at all -- not full of ants, cat poop, etc.

Add about 5 inches at a time and pack it down a bit by striking with your palms. Add the rest and pack some more. I often pack a small log half-buried into the top layer to both simulate a tree root and create a basking spot. Get a teaspoon and dig a test tunnel. It should be easier than scooping ice cream but the soil must at least be packed and moistened enough to hold a tunnel without caving in. On the other hand it must not be excessively wet. Finally, smooth the surface so you can see where she has been digging.

Hope that helps! It probably raises many more small questions so don't hesitate to ask.

--Louis
 
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