Box Turtle Mating Guide: How It Happens?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

You may already have some box turtles. We do not blame you if you cannot get enough of these cute reptiles. You can breed your pet turtles to get more baby box turtles. However, you cannot expect to get fertile eggs by just putting two different genders in one enclosure. Box turtle mating can be complex to understand for a new breeder. 

If you want your male and female box turtles to produce offspring successfully, you better know more about their mating process. In this article, I will tell you when and how box turtles engage in matting so that you can create similar conditions for your turtles to procreate.  

What Age and Size Do Box Turtles Mate?

Box turtles have to be sexually mature to be ready for mating. Depending on the subspecies of the box turtles, it can take them to become sexually mature in 5 to 10 years. It also depends on the diet, food availability, and health of the turtles. By the time a box turtle becomes sexually mature, it should be 4 to 6 inches long. 

For example, a sexually mature female Florida box turtle can be 4.3 to 6.3 inches long. While the male turtle can be 5 to 6.7 inches long. On the other hand, eastern box turtles can get 4.5 to inches long when they become mature. 

Do Box Turtles Have A Mating Season?

The mating season of turtles depends on their species. For box turtles, the mating season is the spring, right after they get out of hibernation. Sexually mature box turtles need the cooling period to prepare their body for reproduction. They are more active in March and April when the weather is warm. But they can engage in mating the entire spring. 

If you find your box turtle not sexually active during this season, it is because they are not mature. The timing can be different for pet box turtles as they may not hibernate like wild turtles. 

But experts believe, the cooling season is crucial for a turtle’s reproductive health. So, help your turtle brumate during the fall season if you want them to mate in spring. 

How Do Box Turtles Find A Mate?

A sexually mature male box turtle will come out of hibernation and look for a female partner for courtship. They will search their territory to find a sexually mature female turtle. Once a male turtle finds a female turtle, it tries to court her for mating.  

If there are more male box turtles than female turtles, the male turtles compete over their chosen female turtle. They may head-butt each other to flip over on their shells. Some male box turtles become even more aggressive. 

They scratch their opponents with their sharp claws or bite them. Then the winner will approach the female turtle for courting. 

When you breed box turtles in captivity, you can control the completion. If you have one male and one female box turtle in the enclosure, then you do not have to worry much. But what if you have multiple mature box turtles in one turtle enclosure? 

In that case, transfer the male and female box turtles intended to breed in a separate enclosure. Choose the healthiest pairs for the breeding process, as mating can be challenging for both male and female box turtles.

After the mating process, keep the male turtle separate from the female turtle. Male turtles can be quite active and continue to bother the female turtle.

What Happens When Box Turtles Mate?

Male box turtles may show off their colourful neck to impress the female turtles. They may tickle the female turtle’s head with their front claws. An interested female turtle returns the gesture. 

However, a female box turtle may not be interested in mating at that moment. Male box turtles are often larger than female box turtles. Besides, they can be enthusiastic during mating. Thus, a female turtle can get injured during mating. So, it may try to hide from the male turtle. Then the male box turtle takes a more aggressive approach.

He chases the female turtle to mate. When the male turtle finds the female turtle, he bits on her shell, head or neck. Sometimes, male turtles may roll over the female turtles on their back and push back up again. 

Finally, when the female turtle is ready for mating, the male turtle mounts on top of her. To secure its position, the male turtle locks its toes on the female box turtle’s shell. A willing female box turtle may help the male hook the claws. 

How Do Box Turtle Mate? 

People who do not know about turtles often wonder how turtles have sex. Do turtles have reproductive organs? Of course, they have! To understand how turtles mate, you need to understand their biology. 

Both male and female turtles have cloaca on their tails. It is an organ used for discharging wastes. The turtles also use this hole to have sex. Then female turtles lay eggs through this hole. 

The male turtles have thinner and longer tails compared to female turtles. Also, the cloaca of a male turtle is situated a bit far from the shell. It is closer to the end of the tail. On the other hand, the cloaca of a female turtle is closer to her shell. 

As male turtles have thinner and longer tails, they can easily connect their cloaca with the females. For support, they use their hind toes to grab onto the shell of the female turtle. 

During mating, a male box turtle can get vertical to the grown. It may even tilt slightly back towards the ground. As a result, sometimes male turtles fall on their back. In such cases, the female turtle may even drag the male turtle. In the wild, many male turtles die when they cannot flip back. They can die because of starvation and dehydration. So, the mating process can be exhausting for both male and female box turtles.  

How Long Do Box Turtles Mate?

Like all other turtles, the mating process of the box turtles can last up to several hours. For box turtles, it can be up to 3 hours. Even after the coupling, a male box turtle may hold on to the shell of a female box turtle for some time. They do this to prevent other male box turtles from approaching the female.  

How Can You Tell If A Box Turtle Is Mating?

Turtles are shy reptiles. They do not want to be disturbed during the mating process. During the day, you have to go near the turtle enclosure to feed the turtles or for many other reasons. But you do not want to disrupt the matting process. So, how do you know that your box turtles are matting? 

Actually, it is not hard to guess. You will find the male box turtle mounted on the female turtle. Or it can be positioned vertically. Notice if the tail is under the shell of the female box turtle.

You may also find the make box turtle bumping into the shell of the female turtle. It can make some clicking sound. Besides, some box turtles may make hissing or screeching sounds before and during coupling. 


You should have a clear idea about the box turtle mating process by now. If you want to breed box turtles in captivity, it is a must to understand their mating process. As you can see, box turtles should be in good health for mating. So, you must take good care of your box turtles if you want to extend their family. 

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.