Separating Tortoise Twins Joined at the Yolk Sac

Posted by Stacey Venzel

All you need is a little floss to separate conjoined turtle twins.

Sometimes turtles are stuck together when they hatch. Humans often need to step in to help conjoined turtle twins develop properly. That was the case with two western Hermann's tortoises that hatched from the same egg on October 12, 2015.

The yolk sacs of these turtles were stuck together. Like a chicken egg, the yolk provides nutrients to the turtle as it grows inside the egg. The yolk is reabsorbed after birth. However, these twins were still connected to each other after losing their yolk sac.

Pet owners can safely separate conjoined twins with nothing more than dental floss and an extra pair of hands. (Hatchlings are wiggly creatures.)

Be sure to use non-flavored floss. No mint for these turtles!

Floss tied off the connected organ in both turtles. Then the pair of twins was placed into a container on a paper towel. They drank well while still conjoined.

Two days later, they separated! The floss was removed and discarded and the turtles were left to develop normally.

Twins are a natural occurrence in animals, but the success rate of conjoined twins is very low. However, with a little bit of help from humans--and dental floss!--conjoined turtles can lead a long and happy life.

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Separating Tortoise Twins Joined at the Yolk Sac