Turtle Mating – Do You Know When, How, and What to Do?

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Turtle mating occurs at specific times of year, and under specific conditions. Following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding turtle mating:

Should I have a separate enclosure for my turtles when they are going to mate?

Yes, if you have either:

More than one male turtle per female

Several pairs of mating turtles

One important consideration regarding turtle reproduction is that you should never allow the number of males to outnumber the females, because the males’ sexual demands may result in the females’ ill health. Male turtles may fight each other over a female. For this reason, the males may become injured if they are allowed to remain in the same enclosure. It is therefore advisable to allow only one mating pair per enclosure.

When is the best time for turtle mating?

Experienced turtle owners have discovered that turtles are more sexually stimulated after hibernation, which usually ends in the late spring. As an owner, you may aid your turtles to “get in the mood” for reproduction by sprinkling their outdoor housing with water using a hose, in order to simulate the rain that normally falls in springtime. The onset of longer days and warmer air temperatures will also stimulate the turtles’ desire to mate.

What are the common signs that turtles are ready for mating?

Novice turtle owners may worry if they notice their turtles shoving or butting one another. This is the normal behavior of male turtles prior to reproduction, because they are genetically programmed to fight over the female. Although this behavior is expected prior to mating, it is still your responsibility, as a good turtle owner, to make sure that you separate fighting male turtles before one of them gets badly injured.

How do turtles mate?

It is typical for the male turtle to charge the female turtle when it is about to mount and start mating with her. The male may also make sounds, such as groaning or hissing. The female, however, usually appears completely normal and disinterested, like she is just resting or basking. As the mating process generally takes several hours, the female turtle may have the tendency to get so impatient that she wanders off to a different area to do something else, all the while with the male still attached to her! Many times the attached male will flip over to his back, and be dragged by the female. While a novice owner might feel that the male is being harmed, this is not the case. This is natural behavior for the turtles.

What should I know about my pet turtles regarding laying eggs?

Some novice turtle owners may be surprised to find their newly purchased female turtle is laying eggs without mating. This is due to the fact that female turtles can retain or carry sperm for periods of three or four years post mating. Thus, if you have acquired an adult female turtle, there is a possibility that your pet has already mated prior to your ownership.

What are the common signs that my pet turtle is ready to lay eggs?

The female turtle is often restless and will spend extensive time soaking in water prior to laying her eggs. She may also pace about nervously, and practice making nests. The actual egg-laying process will take several hours to complete.

What should I do to ensure that my pet turtle lays her eggs successfully?

You can help your pet turtle by making sure that her eggs are well-protected. If there are a number of turtles in the area, you should remove and incubate the eggs to keep them from being damaged. (You must never turn these eggs upside down as you remove them, as this may kill the future hatchling. Gently mark the top of the egg with a felt pen before you move them from the nest, so that you are sure to incubate the eggs right-side up. You must also make sure that the turtle has an area for nesting on dry land, so it will not lay its eggs in the water, which can be hazardous for the eggs.

Whether your pets are just in the process of fighting over the females, in the throws of actual turtle mating, or laying their eggs, it is your responsibility to monitor or watch over them to ensure their safety and health.