How Deep Do Turtles Bury Their Eggs?

Turtle Painted turtle eggs in its turtle hole with sand, gravel in its environment and surrounding.

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

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Why do you think turtles bury their eggs? And how deep do they dig a nest? Can the eggs get damaged in this process?

The nest depth depends on the turtle’s size. For example, bog turtles dig nests of around 2 inches. On the contrary, the painted turtles bury their eggs up to 6 inches deep. Sea turtles are bulkier and lay larger eggs. Their nests are around 2 feet deep. Turtles dig these chambers using the rear legs.

Catch more information in the following write-up.

Key Takeaways

  • Turtles use alternative scoop movement with their rear limbs to dig a nest.
  • The bigger the turtle, the deeper the nest.
  • Turtles bury their eggs to protect and ensure a suitable incubation temperature for the clutch.

How Deep Is Deep Enough for Turtles to Bury Their Eggs?

There is no hard and fast rule on how deep a turtle nest should be. The depth totally depends on the species size. Sea turtles are larger than the freshwater turtles. Hence, it is obvious that the marine turtle nests will be deeper.

Usually, the freshwater turtles bury their eggs 6 to 8 inches deep. The depth can be more if we are dealing with a larger turtle.

For instance, painted turtles, musk turtles, and map turtles dig a nest 4 to 6 inches deep. Likewise, the red eared sliders bury their eggs around 4 inches deep.

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Snapping turtles appear bulkier and bigger. Therefore, their nests are generally 5 to 8 inches deep. On the contrary, bog turtles and mud can fit in a pocket. So, the females can only manage to dig an egg chamber 2 inches deep.

Just as I said, sea turtles bury their eggs deeper into the sand. Reports suggest that the average nest depth of this species is around 2 feet.

Compared to the posture and strength, it seems impossible that turtles can dig a nest. Well, the creatures utilize their limbs to pull the task off.

Generally, once the mother turtle finds the spot, she will use her hind legs/ flippers to remove the soil. She performs an alternative scooping movement to finish the job efficiently. After the nest is ready, the mother turtle will sit on the opening and lay eggs.

Turtles Bury The Eggs Deep Because

Once the turtle is done with egg deposition, it will hurry up and cover the chamber. She again uses her hind limbs/ flippers to peck dirt or sand on the nest.

Turtles do this job so meticulously that you can barely tell if there is a nest underneath.

It might sound dangerous to bury eggs in the soil or sand. But turtles have clear purposes behind them. For example,

  • Predators can not spot the nests and feast on the eggs. Foxes, dogs, racoons, coyotes, chipmunks, crows, etc., are the red flags for turtle egg clutches. In fact, squirrels can also raid on turtle nests.
  • The temperature under the surface is different from above. Any clutch requires a high temperature in the incubation period to hatch. Burying eggs in the nest can fulfil this requirement.
  • Moisture is also important for the clutches. Otherwise, the eggs can dry out, and the embryo will die. Loose soil or sand can retain humidity and maintain a damp environment for the eggs.
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After covering the nest, the mothers will leave the place and never return.

Before You Go

Sea turtles have slightly different nesting rituals than the freshwater turtles. For instance, they participate in community nesting. Get many more interesting facts on marine turtles from the article below.

Sea Turtle Life Cycle Explained [With Visual Infographic]

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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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