Star Tortoise Garden @ StarTortoises.net
Star Tortoise Garden @ StarTortoises.net

Angulate Hatchlings

My angulate babies

I have been lucky to hatch a small number of angulate, aka bowsprit, tortoises (Chersina angulata). Here are pictures of some babies.

angulate / bowsprit (Chersina angulata) hatchling

A few weeks old angulate tortoise hatchling. Beautiful coloring.

angulate  (Chersina angulata) hatching

This angulate hatchling, incubated on coarse vermiculite, has pipped and made some progress opening the egg shell. He stayed like this inside the egg for two days before he stepped out.

angulate / bowsprit (Chersina angulata) babies

Angulate tortoise babies of various ages, colors, and patterns. Interestingly, these are all from the same parents. Babies get darker and more colorful as they grow.

angulate / bowsprit (Chersina angulata) babies

Another group of babies is enjoying their bath outdoors. Wet shells glow in the sunshine. Just beautiful.

angulate / bowsprit (Chersina angulata) babies

Angulate tortoises have a reputation of being difficult to keep in captivity outside their homeland. Many die, especially if they were imports. This gorgeous boy was the first angulate I ever hatched. He grew beautifully with a perfectly smooth shell. Unfortunately, he suddenly passed away at six years of age. Tests revealed no specific reason.

compare: angulate vs Greek tortoise babies

Comparison of angulate tortoise (left) and golden Greek tortoise (right) hatchlings. They actually look quite similar, but the angulate baby already displays the dark, triangular pattern on his marginal scutes. The golden Greek baby has a more yellow colored shell and skin.

Hatchling housing

My newly hatched angulate babies spend their first few days in a warm incubator nursery. Once their bellies are healed, I move them to a baby tub.

I provide both dry and more humid areas for the little ones. The food and water area is kept cooler and dry while the warm end is kept more humid with deep, diggable substrate and/or with humid plant areas.

During the day, the basking bulb heats the warm end of the tub. My babies love to hide in the warm, damp sphagnum moss under or near the basking bulb. A UV fluorescent tube is also turned on for part of the day if the babies haven't spend any time outdoors that day.

In the evening, I turn off the basking bulb. In the past, I did place on a low wattage CHE above the damp sphagnum moss during the coldest winter nights, but nowadays I use no night heat at all. The temperature in my tortoise room usually stays above 68-70 °F in the winter.

Some keepers raise their angulate babies in warm, humid vivariums (enclosed reptile cages, closed chambers) and have reported good success with that method. It may be worth a try if you have trouble with humidity.

angulate / bowsprit (Chersina angulata), freshly hatcheds

Newly hatched angulate babies will spend their first few days in a warm incubator nursery. This one's a Hovabator.

hatchling baby tub

A simple setup for hatchlings. The tub in the photo is for baby Greeks, but I keep my baby angulates the same way. Both baby Greeks and baby angulates love to dig into the warm, damp New Zealand sphagnum moss. The food side of the tub is cooler and dry, and the substrate side is warm and damp.

You could also raise the top shelf higher and hang the lights from it instead of laying they on the top of the shelf. That makes it easy to adjust the bulb heights for correct basking temperature and UV exposure.

Coconut coir, clean plain soil, a mix of the two, or something similar, could also be used as substrate, but they are much messier and harder to keep away from food. You want to avoid any accidental ingestion of substrate with food to prevent impactions. 

angulate / bowsprit hatchling

My angulate babies like to burrow into warm, damp sphagnum moss.

Hatchlings outdoors

On warm days, hatchlings will enjoy short stays outside in secure and partially shaded pens. I water the the pens as needed for higher humidity under the plants.

outdoor baby tortoise pen

Adult angulate tortoise pen with a baby angulate day pen in front of it. I have multiple baby pens in different sizes. Youngest ones go to this little pen. Plants and covers provide damp, shady areas. These pens are fine for short day time stays, but they are not strong enough against dogs and predators.

I built this hatchling pen with the newer, narrow gap small animal wire panels, like this Tespo wire pen. The older style panels were made with larger, square wire mesh openings. I ziptied the panels together and secured the pen to the ground with stakes. I also added concrete blocks around the pen as sight barriers and to prevent any escapes.

Caution! Using wire panels as pen walls has some downsides. Firstly, being see-through tortoises may try to push through them. Secondly, tortoises may get injured, or even die, if their necks get stuck and twisted between the wire bars. Both problems can be prevented by adding some kind of solid barriers along the lower part of the walls.

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