Operation hatch: The famous five

It’s been a slow and steady race to the finishing line for our class of 2014 – more tortoise than hare, I’d say. But what a great couple of days. The surprise was not having any chicks emerge on Saturday, which was their due date, but waking up to one yesterday morning (we ate our breakfast watching it tumbling about) and then returning from our walk with the dogs a few hours later to see another bedraggled specimen, exhausted from its efforts, beside the fragments of its shell. Another surprise delivery broke out of its packaging, which hadn’t betrayed the activity inside. With no visible holes on top, the shell must have been broken underneath. We tore ourselves away to do some much-needed DIY and by 6pm the three miniature Ixworths were fluffing up nicely.

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Just as we were about to head to bed another damp, tired little creature managed to force its way out of the egg and was inevitably knocked about by its hours-older siblings. We decided to set up the brooder (a metal cage with a warming lamp above and a corrugated cardboard lining) so we could transfer the stronger chaps and let the newest one find his feet. This allowed us to clear the empty, broken shells, freeing up more room. Being careful to not lift the incubator lid for too long (which would lower both temperature and humidity), we scooped up the cheeping inhabitants and placed them inside their new home. We dipped their beaks in water (showing them how and where to drink) and checked the thermometer before retiring for the evening.

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Having boiled an egg last night for their first post-shell meal (this seemed odd when we first read about it, but someone pointed out that it is, of course, similar to their nourishment in the shell), we headed in this morning to give the trio breakfast when we discovered that yet one more little beauty had hatched out, looking rather worse for wear.

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We had to leave for work shortly after so I’m hoping by the time we get back tonight it will be fighting fit! Needless to say, I’ll be clocking off promptly tonight!

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