How and When Turtle Mating Happens

As a beginning turtle keeper, if you don’t know anything about turtle mating then you must read this…

Turtle mating occurs in early to late spring, as well as, late summer to early autumn. More often, though, turtle mating comes after  hibernation.

In fact, this is the first thing that comes to their minds once they are out of hibernation. If you have more than one turtle in the same enclosure, make sure you separate them as they become aggressive when natural turtle mating instincts are taking place.   Here are two turtles “going at it”:

Two Copulating Turtles

Two Copulating Turtles

Turtles begin their turtles mating ritual with the male starting to approach the female, sniffing closely around the cloacal region ( the common cavity into which the intestinal, genital, and urinary tracts open). The male turtle sometimes displays aggressive behavior, with frequent biting on the limbs and on the back of the neck of the prospective mate. Typically, the male will hurry over to a female and mount her. When established in mating position, the male uses its claws to hold the female around the edges of the carapace (shell). The female turtle, on the other hand, will continue with whatever she is doing. You will notice that she will not have any response. She looks just like a turtle basking or resting. Among tortoises and large turtles, the male will often moan or make other noises throughout the turtle mating process.

The eastern snake-necked turtle has been known to insert his hind feet into the opening between the carapace and plastron, on either side of the female’s tail. The feet are then locked into the position by making a twist vertically. The male turtle then proceeds to gently cuddle the female’s carapace with his front limbs. After acceptance he tends to free his front legs and float vertically while still assuming the mating position. One explanation behind this behavior is that the male eastern snake-necked turtle’s tail is somewhat small and this position may be essential for successful turtle mating.

Because turtles mating takes some time, it is likely the female will become impatient. She will move from one place to another, doing her own thing, while overthrowing the poor male turtle, or even dragging him around with her. The male turtle will not mind. As long as he can, he will try to continue and finish the mating process.

As the turtle keeper, it is your own responsibility to make sure that you have provided a nest where the female turtle can bury her eggs. Be vigilant. Once the eggs are out, make sure you have a screen or some type of protective covering available so that the eggs will not be damaged or attacked by predators. The key here is to provide a nesting area, which is either a box or a hole, 12 to 16 inches deep, filled with moist soil and sand.

Even in the absence of a male turtle, a female turtle can establish populations in new locations because she has the capacity to store sperm inside her body over winter or even longer.

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