What is a pip hole?

Woman with hand on hip

A pip hole is a small crack or hole that is made in an egg by a chick as it prepares to hatch. The appearance of pip holes is usually seen as a sign that chicks are on the way, as chicks usually fully emerge within a day or so after the pip hole is created, depending on the species. The process of breaking the shell is known as pipping.

Animals that hatch from eggs, such as birds and reptiles, actually have a specially developed anatomical structure to help them break out of their eggs. This structure is known as an “egg tooth” and takes the form of a bulge on the beak, muzzle or forehead. Once the animal hatches, the tooth in the egg dries out and falls out within a few weeks.

Watching the eggs hatch can be quite interesting. At first, the egg will start to shake, as the creature inside it moves and uses its egg tooth to crack the shell. Then, the pip hole will appear, and the animal will slowly widen the hole until it manages to get out of the egg. Chicks often use their legs and feet to push their way out of the eggs as they create a kite hole. This whole process can take a long period of time, as it requires a lot of strength from the young animal.

After hatching, depending on the species, the animal usually takes a break to regain strength. In the case of parent-raised animals, the parents bring food, while others are forced to forage within hours if they want to survive. As the animals tend to be weak after pecking, they are especially vulnerable to predators.

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When people breed birds, they often look forward to hatching immensely, both because it’s interesting and because it signals the arrival of the next generation. In some cases, people can also help the chicks come out of their shells by gently lifting pieces of the shell after the chicks have made their holes. However, caution is advised when doing this, as fragile young birds are easy to injure.

Because a kite hole looks like a peep hole, through which the young animal appears to peek, some people use the term “pip hole” to more generally describe any type of small hole in an object or structure. For chicks, the view of the pip hole is the world’s first sight, but usually the young animal is so focused on getting out that it doesn’t really notice its surroundings.

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