A large number of the turtle keeping communities love hatching their eggs artificially using the best tortoise egg incubators on the market.
Below are several top performing incubators for tortoise eggs you can try today.
READ MORE: Best Incubators for Snakes
Best Tortoise Egg Incubators
The incubators are divided into two sections today : Styrofoam incubators and Plastic incubators.
a.) Basic Hova-Bators
One popular small tortoise incubator is the Hova-Bator. It’s a simple styrofoam box with a heating element attached to the underside of the lid.
Hova-Bator is simply a bird egg incubator, but it has been used for several years by tortoise breeders with great results.
It was created by an American company, G.Q.F, more than 30 years ago.
The thermal air (still air) models with no fan are popular. Hova-Bator still air model 1602N with a manual temperature controller is the most affordable.
Model 1582 has a bigger view window, but it’s also a bit costlier. These basic Hova-Bators are quite budget-friendly.
The 1602N runs on 25 watts.
- Silent, Price is low, fairly large inside, simple to find, low wattage, super lightweight, quite steady once you’ve set the right temperature, readily available in stores, holds humidity wel when most air holes are covered and bottom water trays are filled with water
- Lacks temperature markings, manual control for the temperature is tricky, getting the right temperate takes a bunch of trial and error, not simple to switch between various temperatures, not simple to disinfect, lacks humidity controls, not built to take a beating (Styrofoam), no alarms, and only heats, does not cool if overheated.
b.) Other Hova-Bators
The G.Q.F. brand also invented more expensive Styrofoam; Hova-Bator with fans or/and digital control.
For example, the Hova-Bator Genesos, as well as a good number of large cabinet syle incubators (e.g 1500 series).
If you use a bird egg incubator with turning racks, ensure to turn off for tortoise eggs. Tortoise eggs should NOT be turned during incubation!
The digital control on the Hova-Bator Genesis incubator is techy but so easy to change and set the temperature! And the fan unit has proven powerful and causes the whole incubator, especially the lid to vibrate.
I’m hoping that the company makes this LCD display incubator as a still air model or at least had an off/on switch for the fan.
Update: G.Q.F.’s new electronic thermostat Hova-Bator, model 2370, has digital controls. It can be used in either circulated air or still air mode.
Note! Like all incubator types, do NOT trust the attached, external temperature display alone. Ensure you check and set the temperature according to a reliable thermometer(s) you have placed inside the incubator.
2.) Little Giant
a.) Mechanical incubators
Another favorite tortoise egg incubator among reptile breeders is the Little Giant still air model #9200 by Miller Manufacturing Company.
Like the Hova-Bator, it’s produced out of Styrofoam and has dual viewing windows in the lid. It comes with a manual temperature dial and same advantages and cons as the basic Hova-Bator.
b.) New digital incubators (update Sep 2014)
August 2014 witnessed a new line of digital Little Giant Incubators by the Miller Manufacturing Company on their blog.
3 digital models are available: still air incubator #9300, circulated air incubator with a fan #10300, and deluxe incubator with and egg turner #11300.
According to the company, these incubators hold the temperature within 1 degree of Fahrenheit.
Of these 3 new incubators, the Little Giant still air model #9300 is probably the best choice for tortoise eggs.
This easy to use and well-priced Styrofoam box tortoise egg incubator has dual viewing windows and a LCD display that reveals both humidity and temperature readings.
But, the digital control panel adjusts the heat only, not the humidity. Humidity is controlled by adding water to the built-in water channels at the bottom as required.
Per Miller, the humidity reading is most accurate between 60%-80%; just what’s needed for tortoise eggs.
Manufacturer’s recommendation is to allow the incubator run for 8 hours before inserting any eggs. This allows the humidity and temperature to level.
Additionally, allow 2-3 hours for the eggs to warm before making any adjustments.
Zoo Med’s digital ReptiBator is another Styrofoam box style incubator, just with more advanced digital controls.
Like most incubators, user reviews on this unit are mixed. Featuring almost the same pros and cons as the Hova-Bator.
READ MORE: Best Reptile Incubators for Eggs
Tips for styro incubators
Generally, place Styrofoam incubators in a warm room with a stable temperature above 70 °F and stabilize the incubator temperature before adding any eggs.
It can take 24-48 hours of playing with the manual temperature controller to get the heating setting right.
If you live in a very cold or hot area, or experience constant power problems, It would be smart to plug the incubator into a battery backup surge protector to prevent it from power outages and current spikes.
Keeping eggs in dark during incubation and hatching may prove beneficial. You can tape dark paper over the incubator viewing windows to keep the inside darker.
Note! Do NOT turn tortoise eggs during incubation! Ensure you keep them in the same position.
When using the time tested manual control of the Hova-Bator (model 1602N), you have to turn the manual temperature crank left or right to increase / decrease the temperature.
Series of testing involved to arrive at the right temperature where you want it, but once it’s set, the temperature is quite stable.
New generation digital control the Little Giant incubator (model 9300) temperature is set easily by pushing buttons.
We are done with Styrofoam incubators for tortoise eggs, let’s check out plastic incubators.
R-com’s digital Juragon incubators cost more than the mini fridge style incubators and Styrofoam types.
Juragons are built from plastic and prices range from $300-$500+ depending on size, seller and model.
Juragons have control for both humidity and temperature. Some owners say that they encountered issues with the reliability of Juragons’ humidity controls. User reviews are mixed.
Widely available are the R-com reptile egg incubator models include the Juragon RX (RX-20), Juragon Standard (20, PX-20R), and Juragon Pro (20 Pro, PX-20RD).
Juragon Pro and Standard units work and look the same, but the Pro has some preset temps and a different looking control panel.
It’s also cost more than the Standard Juragon. On an average, electricity usage averages 20-50W for these models.
A larger Juragon called the Big Juragon, has also been offered for sale. Juragon incubators are produced by Autoelex in Korea.
Juragon Standard (PX-20R / MX-R90) incubator is maybe the most popular model. My room-mate unit has been running smoothly for many years.
- Able to automatically control HUMIDITY plus temperature, unit looks nice, controls are easy to use, simple to clean, quiet sturdy, quiet and is made of plastic.
- Cos more than expensive styrofoam incubators, fewer sellers, incubation tray is small, harder to find, only heats, does not cool if overheated, must check water level fairly frequently
Note: R-com changed their incubator model numbers in Nov 2011. So, Juragons may be sold under the new or old model numbers.
Juragon RX (RX-20) incubator is now known as R-com Reptile 60 (Max, MX-R60). Juragon Standard (PX-20R) model is now called R-com Reptile 90 (Max, MX-R90). Juragon Pro (PX-20RD) is now called R-com Reptile 90 (Pro, PX-R90).
2.) Small fridge style incubators
Small digital tortoise incubators for eggs look like tiny refrigerators are getting increasingly popular. Actually, they really are mini fridge’s that have been relabelled as reptile egg incubators.
These incubators can heat and cool, and are super useful to reptile eggs that benefit or require cooling period.
For instance, they can be used to break the potential diapause in Burmese Star tortoise eggs. The automatic cooling feature also protects eggs from overheating. A expected, user reviews are mixed.
- Exo Terra
The Exo Terra’s PT2499 incubator is the most popular one of these mini units.
The primary issue of concern here is the reliability. A lot of customers report their device breaking down prematurely.
Update: A new, 2nd generation model of this incubator was released in Feb 2013. My 2nd generation unit has worked well as a preincubation cooler for my Burmese Star tortoise eggs.
- It is simple to use, looks nice, small footprint, stops overheating, can be used as a cooler to break diapause in eggs, simple to clean, quiet, portable and lightweight, hold humidity well, can be used as a cooled or heated transport box in the car, only 33W
- Super tiny inside, small shelves accommodate only a few eggs, top level is a bit warmer than lower level, sealed-in design (no gas exchange), unit temperature display does not accurately reflect the inside temperature, mixed user reviews, and spotty reliability especially with 1st generation models, mixed user reviews
2.) Other brands
These small mini fridge style units are sold as reptile egg incubators under different names, including Herp-Bator, ReptiPro, Pro MR-148, Accu-Temp, and Lucky Reptile Herp Nursery in Europe.
Like Exo Terra and other best tortoise egg incubators , user reviews of these incubators are mixed.
Reliability here too is a problem. Many of the 1st generation units have broken down prematurely.
Update: A 2nd generation unit of the ReptiPro incubator was introduced in Feb 2012. The name was changed from ReptiPro 5000 to ReptiPro 6000.
The better model has new interior, exterior, shelves, and power converter. The electronic components and controls have been redesigned as well.
Tips for Fridge Style Incubators
Like all incubators, you should place at least 1 reliable thermometer inside the incubator in these friedge style incubators and then perform a temperature adjustment according to that thermometer.
It’s best to place a thermometer on each shelf you see.
Do NOT trust the incubator’s built in temperature display alone because it can be many degrees higher than the actual temperature in the egg box inside the incubator.
You should test your incubator before use to see what the actual readings for that unit are.
For instance, to set the top shelf egg box temperature to 86 °F (30 °C) in the Exo Terra, I had to set the unit temperature to 92 °F.
The unit showed a temperature variation of 88-94°F, but the real temperature inside the egg box placed on the top shelf stayed at 85.6-86.8 °F.
Doors of fully sealed-in incubators should be opened briefly every so often to allow for gas exchange.
Oxygen in and carbon dioxide out! For the same purpose, covered egg boxes in the incubator should have perforations.
Again, keeping eggs in dark during incubation and hatching may be beneficial. You can tape dark paper over the incubator’s clear door to keep the inside darker.
If the room temperature fluctuates, having an incubator with an internal fan helps distribute the heat more evenly.
To protect the eggs from drying excessively, you may have to cover the egg boxes with lids.
HatchRite and Vermiculite are popular tortoise egg incubation substrates.
Egg Incubation for Tortoise substrates
Aside purchasing the best tortoise egg incubator, substrates are important too. Here are some:
The most widely used substrates for Star tortoise egg incubation is vermiculite. When buying, look for coarse, pure vermiculite that is certified to be asbestos free.
During incubation, the gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide happens via the shell of the egg. Larger grain vermiculite allows for better air flow around the eggs.
Other incubation substrates that can be used with tortoise eggs include peat moss, perlite, sand, and soil.
You can also mix substrates, for example, perlite and vermiculite in a 2:1 ratio.
A commercial egg substrate known as HatchRite, is also available. Ingredients are not listed on the bag, but it’s thought to be perlite mixed with water retaining particles.
HatchRite does not need water added to it. After opening, you can use straight.
You should reseal the bag tightly after opening to keep the moisture in the remaining substrate. Since you don’t have to worry much about the wetness level in the substrate, using HatchRite has been called the “incubation for dummies” method. :O)
In closed, perforated egg boxes, HatchRate does well with humidity. For desert species, the humidity level may really be so high during the first 2-4 weeks of incubation.
If that is the case, you can mix HatchRite with perlite or other dry medium, or take away the egg box lid to reduce the humidity a bit. As always, test the product in your incubator before placing eggs on it.
SuperHatchby Repashy is another commercial incubation medium brand. It’s 100% arcillite.
With that we’ve come to the end of our best tortoise egg incubator reviews. Do have an amazing day.