Relocate nests/eggs to a hatchery: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects on tortoise, terrapin, side-necked and softshell turtle populations of relocating nests/eggs to a hatchery. One study was in Costa Rica and Venezuela.



  • Reproductive success (2 studies): One replicated, controlled study in Venezuela found that yellow-headed sideneck turtle eggs relocated to a hatchery had higher hatching success than both natural nests and artificially incubated eggs. One study in Costa Rica reported that 80% of Nicaraguan slider eggs in a hatchery hatched successfully.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A study in 1991 on a river in northern Costa Rica (Pritchard 1993) reported that some Nicaraguan slider Trachemys emolli eggs taken from the wild to a hatchery (as part of a ranching program) hatched successfully. The author reported that approximately 80% of eggs collected hatched successfully in the hatchery, and that 30% of hatchlings were released into the wild. In 1991, eggs from 310 nests were collected (average of 20 eggs/nest) within 24 hours of laying and reburied in soil in an enclosed area. Collection was carried out by local people, who received 50% of the funds generated by sale of the turtles.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 2009 on two rivers in Southern Venezuela (Herández et al. 2010) found that relocating eggs of yellow-headed sideneck turtles Podocnemis unifilis to a hatchery resulted in higher hatching success compared to eggs from natural nests and eggs incubated artificially. Results were not statistically tested. Hatching success was higher for eggs from the hatchery (88%) than for eggs from both natural nests (63%) and artificially incubated eggs (42%). Five eggs each from 27 nests (136 total) at one river were moved to a hatchery and reburied in a trench (200 x 40 x 30 cm) using sand from the nesting site. The area was protected by a 1.5 m metal mesh fence, and two staff monitored the site and poured 5 litres of water over the trench each week. All eggs from 13 nests (401 total) at the second river were placed in sand-filled polystyrene containers and incubated indoors in ambient conditions. All eggs from a further 51 nests from the first river were left in place. In February 2009, a 6 km and 13 km stretch of each river was searched for nests. In May, these locations were revisited to assess hatching success.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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