I received a call from Deborah Metters, Land for Wildlife Regional Coordinator, in early December 2014 about some likely reptile eggs that she accidentally uncovered whilst digging up large stones on her property. We met at the local Bunnings car park for me to look at the eggs and indeed they were reptilian, most likely from a Common (Green) Tree Snake.
As a wildlife carer specialising in reptiles, I know how important identification is when dealing with snake eggs as some of our most venomous snakes such as Eastern Brown Snakes lay eggs. Other snakes such as Red-bellied Black Snakes are live-bearers. I have a lot of experience with hatching all species of reptiles (I hatch about 100-150 reptiles every year), so I was confident that these were Common Tree Snake eggs.
The seven Common Tree Snake eggs that came into care, three of which could not be saved.
Hatching Bearded Dragons
Once home, I could see that these eggs were in a lot of trouble. They were clumped together (as snake eggs often are) and some were badly damaged. There were seven eggs in the clutch and three were beyond salvaging. I placed the viable eggs in an incubation medium of vermiculite and water and placed them into a reptile incubator.
On Christmas Day, I got the best present ever: one of the three eggs had a head out. They were indeed baby tree snakes. By Boxing Day all four babies had successfully hatched. The babies were rested for a few days in individual containers and then released back into the wild. I must say, I never tire of hatching babies and these were special as not often snake eggs come into care. Mostly, I hatch dragons and turtles, so these were little emerald gems!
In addition to hatching reptiles, this year, I turned my attention to birds. Unlike reptile eggs, bird eggs need to be regularly rotated and their temperature and humidity requirements are vastly different from reptile eggs. So far this year, I have successfully hatched Rainbow Lorikeets, Azure Kingfishers, Masked Lapwings and Bush Stone-curlews. They have all been returned to the wild.
A hatching Brisbane River Turtle
One of the four surviving Common Tree Snakes.
If you dig up eggs, they are likely to be reptilian. Reptile eggs are soft, unlike bird eggs. If you can place them back in the ground where you found them, then do so, but try not to rotate them. If you cannot put them back in the ground, place them in a container in the same orientation that you found them. Even cracked eggs may be able to be saved.
Once in a container, keep the eggs warm, but do not overheat them and do not turn them. Try not to let them dry out if possible, so keep a warm wet tissue or material in the container too. Contact your local wildlife care group or call Wildcare on 5527 2444 as soon as possible. For reptile egg care, I can be contacted directly on 0404 660 547. It is important that reptile eggs are placed in an incubator as soon as possible, so try to get them to a carer ASAP and thanks for helping our wildlife.
Article and photos by Annette Bird Land for Wildlife member Jimboomba, Logan and Reptile Coordinator, Wildcare Australia