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I rescued a female 9 year old RES from a highschool 2 years ago. I just started working in the school and found her living in a science room in a small tank with no working filter or any lights!

Anyhow, fast forward 2 years. She has since lived with me in a 70 gallon (265 liters) tank, but loves to spend time wandering around the house. This summer in July she beelined for the back door (first time she's ever even seen the backdoor), found her spot outside and started digging with her hind legs. About 5 hours later she laid 3 eggs. Three weeks later she once was again desperate to go out, dug her deep hole and laid 7 more eggs!

10 days after the last egg laying, she wants to go out again and for 4 days in a row was finding different places in the yard to dig in, each time digging for approximately 5-7 hours per day.

I was surprised that, after all the work, she didn't lay a single egg in the 4 days. When I hold her and touch the sides of her little rump, I can definitely feel something very hard and round on both sides. She hasn't wanted out of her tank since and it's been about 1 week since her 4 day digging episode. She has a good appetite and is basking a lot, but I'm worried she may still have eggs in her.

The nearest reptile vet is 1 hour away from where we live. What are your thoughts and concerns if any?

  • Just an inquiry here, since you've had her for a couple of years, How did she lay eggs last time, where, and how did that process go? – Mozein Sep 6 '14 at 20:00
  • This was the first summer she's laid eggs. She walked to the backdoor, stared at the doorknob until I opened it, made her way outside, found her spot and dug deep enough to lay 3 eggs. The second time she found a spot in the opposite side of the yard, dug for 6 hours and laid 7 eggs. So it went well which is why this last time producing no eggs after digging all day concerned me. Although, she has since laid one egg up on her basking spot in her tank. Totally random. There was an indent in the egg that looks as though she tried to bite it. – Miss Shelby Sep 14 '14 at 18:47
  • I'm not sure about it biting the egg, the indent might imply the egg was forced out, and so, it was too big, which was probably the cause of this problem. Has she settled? Hope she's fine now! – Mozein Sep 14 '14 at 19:14
  • Yes she's settled but I have a feeling theres still one more in there. She normally lets me know when she wants out of her tank, even if it's just to sleep in her cat house, but she's been very content staying in for over a week now. – Miss Shelby Sep 14 '14 at 23:48
  • She may be exhausted now, make sure she's fed well so as she has the energy and capability to lay more. I would still suggest a visit to the vet, they will perform an x-ray and it'll tell you for sure if she has more eggs. – Mozein Sep 15 '14 at 3:33
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Red ear sliders usually lay between 2-4 clutches of eggs, since your turtle laid two clutches, and you can still feel eggs, it is very probable it has more to lay, a simple x-ray will reveal whether it still has some eggs to lay. Sometimes turtles stop digging and do not lay their eggs because they feel something is wrong with the current nesting site, they then move on to different sites and dig until they the nest feels good enough. Your turtle may not be satisfied with any of the nests and so has been rescheduling her egg laying. Turtles will stop digging if they feel there are too many obstacles in their way, which may be possible in your garden. You may want to try making your own nesting area for the turtle, then you can control the conditions in order to ease the digging and make it feel like a good nesting area for your turtle.

Since your turtle has somewhat settled down, it may have laid the eggs without your knowledge, reportedly, some turtles are aware that the eggs are infertile and so they may just drop them anywhere, including in water.

Another possible reason is, of course, the eggs have binded. Turtles may show signs of egg binding, there may be swelling at the cloaca, your turtle may become depressed, and as is currently happening, she may dig but not lay her eggs. If this continues then you do want to consult a vet, since the eggs can calcify and rot, and cause bacterial build up and eventually disease(and maybe kill) your turtle. If your res is still frantic and continues digging but fails to lay eggs, then it's quite likely the eggs are bound. Eggs can bind for a bevy of reasons: stress, wrong diet, eggs are too large.. If so then they may have to be removed surgically, and of course, a vet is needed for that.

Keep in mind clutches aren't identical, a turtle might experience a difficulty laying a particular clutch it didn't experience with other clutches.

Feel for eggs in your turtle, they may as well be gone, since it seems it might have settled. If they're still there then offer a nesting site you made, or if you can't place it in the garden. If failure during laying continues, then it's recommended you consult a vet to remove them surgically or to give your turtle oxytocin in order to induce laying the eggs. Though many people simply give their turtle time to lay them and eventually the turtle do manage, their is still a definite risk that ought not be undertaken.

Great job rescuing your turtle, below I'll list a few sites you may find helpful:

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