How do turtles mate? Everything you need to know about turtle farming | home and place to sleep (2023)

Scientists have only recently understood how turtles reproduce, and even now, there's still a lot to learn. From aggressive males to pregnant females, there's a lot more involved than just laying eggs. Here's everything you need to know about turtle mating, baby care, and everything in between.

Things to consider...

Before we get into the details, there are a few things to note.

time of the year

Most turtles begin the courtship and mating process after hibernation in early spring. It is also common to see this behavior throughout the summer.

However, the mating season can vary depending on where they are in the wild and what conditions they prefer. For example, sulcata tortoises can be seen mating between June and March, but it is more common after the rainy season in September. Red-footed turtles, on the other hand, mate at any time of the year, but prefer to lay their eggs from June to September.

If your tortoise is hibernating, it will likely find a mate when it wakes up in the spring, so this is a good time to separate them if you have male and female tortoises. Either way, always be on the lookout for behaviors that might indicate they are getting ready to mate, as you don't want to be surprised with a clutch of eggs!

Find the right partner

Just like humans and other creatures in the animal kingdom, not all turtles want to mate with each other. Also, you can't just put two turtles together and expect their babies to be healthy!

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If you want to breed turtles, you must do your research and make sure you don't accidentally breed them. If you breed two turtles that are closely related, they are unlikely to produce viable offspring. Puppies are more likely to have deformities or not develop or be born.

It is also important that theTurtles are the same speciesand the same subspecies; even eastern and western red-footed tortoises would not be compatible with each other. If two different species mate, the female will likely not lay fertile eggs and therefore not produce offspring. In addition, there may also be problems with the development of eggs, which in turn can be dangerous for the female.

After all, both nesting turtles must be healthy to produce healthy young. The stress of laying eggs can often be detrimental to the health of older females, so it's best to select younger turtles whenever possible.

At what age can turtles reproduce?

The age at which turtles reach sexual maturity isdepending on the sizeout of their shell, so it varies depending on where they live. Tortoises in captivity generally grow faster due to constant access to food, so they usually reach sexual maturity at 4 years of age. In the wild, however, they grow much slower, so they may not be ready to mate until they are in their 20s.

However, it is recommended that you do not allow your turtles to mate when they are very young, as this can affect their growth and development.

the perfect environment

If the female turtle does notideal environmentso she can keep her eggs, which can lead to serious complications. There must be enough heat and UVB radiation, as well as plenty of food.

If the male turtle is too aggressive he may actually do more harm than good and the female may not want to mate with him.

Even if they mate successfully, if the female is showing signs that she is ready to lay her eggs, it is important that she has a stress-free environment, which could result in the male being removed if he starts to disturb her.

How do turtles mate?

As you may have noticed, there is more to turtle farming than you initially thought. Once you've found the right combination and the conditions are perfect, you can see how the following processes work...


Although courtship techniques differ between species, they have one thing in common: aggression. Male turtles bite and attack females with their shells, and the male surrounds them in an intimidating manner. Some other behaviors you might see in certain species when courtship begins could include:

  • Irradiated Turtles:You can see the males grabbing the female turtles' shells to prevent them from escaping. You will also likely see a lot of sniffing and head movements.
  • leopard tortoisesThey are known to be particularly aggressive, with males repeatedly attacking females and sometimes even picking them off the ground.
  • star turtlesThey are a bit more reserved with very little aggression towards each other.
  • red-legged turtlesThey are very vocal during the mating season, making clucking noises to attract mates and ward off other males.

Males tend to prefer larger females, so if you have two females in onecasingwith another male, it's best if the females are of similar size so the male doesn't pay too much attention to a single female.


After a few persistent male advances, the female turtle usually submits and retreats into her shell. This is the signal for the male to start mating.

The male turtle stands firmly on its hind legs and rests its front legs on the back of the female's carapace, facilitated by the fact that the lower part of the male's carapace is slightly more concave than that of the female. However, you may find him realigning his hind legs to ensure his tail lines up with the females.

Once in position, the male kicks vigorously while emitting a series of grunts and hisses until he is finished, resulting in a rather rowdy affair.

The male usually copulates with a female several times before releasing her.

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aggressive males

It is also noteworthy that males become more and more aggressive towards each other during this period. If you have two males sharing an enclosure with a female, they can seriously injure each other as they try to show dominance and protect themselves from competition.

Mastery demonstrations include:

  • to bite
  • grenade attack
  • move your head
  • Try to turn the competition around
  • Attention
  • stretch your neck

Dominant males mate more often than less aggressive males, so it pays to be brutal.


One of the most important things to know when keeping turtles is how to tell if your female turtle is pregnant, aka pregnant, and when she is ready to lay her eggs. During this time, you should give your dog extra calcium supplements several times a week.

The easiest way to know for sure if your dog is pregnant or not is to take her to the vet for an x-ray. However, here are someBehavioral AdviceYou may also notice the following:

change in appetite

While a lack of appetite in tortoises can be a sign of several things, if your female tortoise has recently successfully mated and has stopped eating, it could mean that she is carrying eggs. As you can probably guess, all those eggs take up a lot of space in a turtle, so its appetite will be suppressed.

behavior changes

Any change in behavior is worth noting. Some females hide in their burrows, while others are very restless and are constantly on the move, walking up and down their enclosure. This exploratory behavior can involve digging and climbing, which can lead them into dangerous situations if you're not careful!

Monitor your tortoise for changes in behavior as this could be a sign that it is getting ready to nest.


Females can be aggressive towards other females and even try to mount them in an act of dominance. This is probably one way to secure the best nesting spot.

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test the ground

The temperature and texture of the soil must be right for a female to want to lay her eggs in it, so you might find her scratching the ground with her front paws. Some species even eat part of the soil to test its suitability for nesting.

egg laying

Now let's get to the actual egg-laying process!

duration of pregnancy

Female turtles can store sperm for up to four years. So once your turtles have copulated, there really is no way of knowing when she will lay her eggs. In nature, egg laying usually takes place in spring or summer, when it is warm and conditions are optimal; However, there is no specific time frame and realistically they can lay their eggs all year round.

In captivity, it is even more difficult to estimate when they will lay their eggs, as conditions remain constant.

For greater reproductive success, females sometimes have two clutches of eggs. Their reproductive anatomy allows them to separate fertilized eggs into two clutches, allowing only one clutch to develop at a time.

In search of a nesting site

Turtles look for very specific conditions in which to nest, a wild turtle will usually opt for a slope to ensure their nest is not flooded and full of water. They need a place that gets full sun all day so the temperature stays stable and the young can develop.

ANDbodenIt must have the right consistency not to collapse on the eggs, but also not to be too firm so that the chicks cannot come out when they are ready, or the female expends too much energy to do so. dig it up

If they don't find an ideal nesting site, they keep the eggs, which can lead to complications. Similar to other egg-laying reptiles, the tortoise can become entangled in eggs and be fatal if not treated with the correct measures. A dose of oxytocin from the vet may encourage a turtle to lay its eggs if caught in time. However, there is no guarantee that these eggs will be viable.

build the nest

If it manages to find the right conditions, a turtle will start building a nest, which usually happens in the late afternoon or early evening. The female clears the area with her front paws and then digs the ground with her hind paws in a circular motion to form two mounds on either side.

The turtle is only finished when it reaches the proper depth, which is usually about three-quarters of its shell length, or when one of its fully extended hind legs can no longer reach the ground.

lay the eggs

When the nest is dug, the pregnant female places her hind legs on either side of the hole and begins laying eggs one at a time. Turtle eggs are white and spherical in shape and vary in size depending on the turtle species.

As each egg is laid, she takes her time to roll it to the sides of the nest to ensure the next egg doesn't land directly on top of the other. This, in turn, prevents cracking and covers each egg with a thin layer of soil, giving extra protection and preventing them from sticking together. This entire process can take several hours from start to finish.

When all the eggs are laid, the female usually takes a short break before covering the nest again, smoothing it out and making it look like nothing happened. From this point forward, most females have no contact with the nest, and neither male nor female will provide parental care to the young thereafter.


The incubation period varies according to the turtle species:

  • Radiated Tartaruga -145-231 Tome
  • wavy turtle -243 take
  • red-legged turtle117-158 Tome
  • hermann's tartugare- 90 days
  • star turtle– 47-180 Roofs
  • greek tortoise -65-75 take
  • Russian tortoise– 60-75 Takes

Turtle eggs need to be at a certain temperature to develop. As with other reptiles, the temperature in the nest affects the sex ratio of the young. This means that if the temperature is too high, more females will develop and if the temperature is too low, more males will develop.

If the temperature rises or falls below the desired range, it can be devastating for the clutch and drastically reduce its survival rate.

In the wild, natural sunlight and soil moisture are enough to keep the nest at its ideal temperature, but in captivity they often need an incubator or additional heat source to ensure the nest remains stable.


When baby turtles reach the end of their development inside their eggs, they begin to stretch, causing their beaks to pierce the egg shell. Their beaks have something calledegg tooththis is a bony protrusion and it helps the turtle to escape from its egg.

When the shell breaks, the turtle uses its paws to break out of the egg and out of the nest. Unlike sea turtles, not all turtles hatch at the same time, with up to 3 weeks between the first and last hatching.

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Pet turtles have a much better chance of survival than wild populations, but hatchlings can still have a lot of trouble leaving the nest wherever they are. If the egg shell is too hard or the soil is too wet, they can fight and die. Make sure you notice them and encourage them when they need it.

final thoughts

This is everything you need to know about turtle mating and hatching and how to ensure your turtles stay healthy throughout the process.

It's always important to monitor your pets, but even more so when you have a male and female that interact with each other. While it's a beautiful process, many things can go wrong, so it's important to make any decision in the best interests of the turtles. If you feel you can't give your female the right conditions to lay and develop eggs, it's best to leave it to those who can.

Please let us know if you breed your turtles and what your experiences have been!

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