Can Turtles & Tortoises Lay Eggs Without Mating?

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

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If you own turtles or tortoises, you may be surprised to discover eggs in your yard at some point. The question is, will these eggs develop into new tortoise or turtle offspring? Maybe they’re just eggs that were never fertilized and won’t result in any babies. To my surprise, I was able to find out with little effort.

Even if a female tortoise or turtle doesn’t mate, she will lay eggs. However, you shouldn’t anticipate a consistent flow of eggs from your turtle or tortoise, though, since they lay eggs at selected times of the year.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about tortoises, turtles, and their eggs, as well as anything you could possibly want to learn about fertile and unfertilized eggs.

Why Do Tortoises And Turtles Lay Eggs Without Mating?

Upon reaching sexual development, female tortoises and turtles begin producing eggs, however, the age at which this occurs varies by species.

Even if she doesn’t end up mating, her body will continue to store eggs and lay them as she won’t be able to keep them inside.

This phenomenon is similar to chickens and ducks i.e. they will produce eggs irrespective of mating.

Some research suggests that female tortoises produce more eggs if they are housed alongside male tortoises. She will lay more frequently if there’s a decent probability of the eggs getting fertilized.

Although ovulation is inevitable regardless of whether a female tortoise and turtle is housed alone or with other females.

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Can You Tell When A Tortoise Or Turtle Is Ready To Lay Eggs?

When a female tortoise or turtle is ready to begin laying eggs, she will often act in a manner that is similar to how other species’ pregnant females behave.

For some reason (perhaps hormonal), they start to move about a lot more. They may have trouble settling down, and they could even show indications of worry or discomfort.

So, if you see a tortoise walking about seeming irritated and isn’t sunbathing correctly either, know that she’s only trying to find a good site to nest.

Tortoises often don’t start producing eggs until late summer, and they seldom do so in the winter.

Female turtles, just like the tortoises become worrisome, active, ponder around and you will be able to notice that they are kind of feeling unstable.

They will also try to get out of the tank by clawing the side of the tanks and start digging to make its nest. 

Where Do Tortoises Lay Their Eggs?

When tortoises start a family, they choose a nesting spot with soil that meets certain requirements to keep the young safe. Because of this, tortoises seldom choose sandy areas to bury their eggs.

The female will be picky about this location to the extent that she is capable of it; she will choose an area that is elevated rather than flat, so that it is protected from flooding in the event of heavy rain.

When it comes to nesting, tortoises may be rather selective. It’s easy to see why- her young rely on her care to ensure their own survival.

In the case of turtles, they come out of water and deposit their eggs  in the dry ground since the eggs would not last in the water.

If you want to do all you can for your tortoise and turtles during egg-laying season, one thing you can do is to make her backyard nesting area as comfortable as possible. There are serious issues when tortoises can’t locate a safe place to deposit their eggs.

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What Happens If A Tortoise Doesn’t Lay Their Eggs?

We weren’t kidding when we claimed that female tortoises are particular about where they deposit their eggs. Apparently, the pickiest of females will decline to deposit eggs at all if they can’t locate a suitable location.

For obvious reasons, this is bad for the female tortoise and causes her great bodily pain; if left unchecked, it may eventually kill your tortoise.

If you care about your tortoise’s well-being, you should assist them to construct their nest in a suitable location.

How To Tell Whether The Eggs Are Fertilized?

How can you know whether the eggs your female lays will develop into baby tortoises or turtles? You may presume your turtle/ tortoise egg  is not fertile if they have not interacted with members of the opposing sex for at least four years.

It is feasible for a female to store a mature ovum for up to four years without depositing it, thus she may still have children years after.

But “chalking” is a symptom of successful fertilization in eggs. That’s a lightening of the shell’s exterior, and it manifests itself most often as a spherical spot or a line reaching all the way around.

A few days afterwards when the tortoise lays her egg, the chalking process may begin. Eggs get completely covered with chalk over time. It is possible to see chalking on fertilized tortoise eggs.

After the chalking process has begun, the eggs shouldn’t be handled since the fetus within may get detached from the shell and die if the egg is disturbed.

When Do Female Tortoises And Turtles Stop Laying Eggs?

According to research, tortoises don’t go through menopause. They can produce eggs throughout their whole lives. This seems to be the case for the vast majority of reptiles.

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As tortoises live longer than mammals, it’s possible that their eggs don’t degrade as quickly because they don’t have to use as much energy to create them.

As you would expect, though, there hasn’t been a lot of published study on the reproductive period of tortoises and turtles, so this is just speculation. It’s a pity since we’d want to check it out.

Turtle In Comparison To Tortoises

As you may have noticed, we haven’t spent a lot of time discussing turtles, because their anatomy is mostly identical to that of tortoises, which we’ve already covered extensively.

Turtles, on the other hand, lay eggs more frequently such as about 1-9 clutches a season. The female does not deposit her eggs in the water, but rather on dry ground. When it comes to laying eggs, turtles and tortoises are essentially indistinguishable.

How Do Turtle Eggs Appear?

Turtle eggs are small and round. However, they may be stretched out if the form is altered. A golf ball serves as a good analogy because of its size and roundness, although they are far softer.

The color range goes from white to light cream. The amount of water it is exposed to determines how hard it is. Additionally, they seem rubbery or leathery to the contact.

Additionally, the turtles’ size affects how many eggs are produced. While smaller turtles may only lay a few eggs once at a time, bigger females may lay many batches of eggs over the course of a season.


Tortoises and turtles can produce offspring without mating. They are capable of reproducing asexually and will very probably do so.

Even though there should be fewer eggs generated in this manner than if the reptiles were sexually active, you can still anticipate to see them at most once per year.

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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.


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