Do Female Tortoises Lay Eggs Without Mating?

Do female tortoises lay eggs without mating
Written by Emma Watson

Mating is one of the essential processes in living organisms for continuing their race and species. Most of the time, it is considered to be vital in species existence. Similarly, it marks its importance in breeding pet species.

You must be well aware of the fact that only sexually mated eggs produce offspring. Well, there are some eggs that are not hatched! So, what is the main reason behind this? Can tortoise lay eggs asexually? Which eggs actually bear baby tortoises? All your answers related to the breeding of pet tortoises are giving below. So, continue till the very end, and like we always say, don’t forget to mark in your Pet Tort Diary the important points.

Yes, female tortoises can lay eggs without mating. However, in the case of asexual reproduction (the one which gives eggs without mating), the eggs are unfertilized and thus do not hatch.

The behavior is just like any other female reptiles and even birds. Let us discuss some interesting details which will not only increase your knowledge about your little friend but also will help you take up with the breeding process in a better way.

Before proceeding with other details, let us discuss the most commonly asked question we get:

Does A Mated Tortoise Will Lay Fertilized Eggs Every Time..?

No, there are high chances that the eggs your tortoises lay after mating are not fertilized. However, fertilization depends upon various factors, including the diet and health of the mother tortoise.

If the eggs are not fertilized after mating, then it might be possible that your tortoise is not given a proper diet or lacks a calcium diet.

How Do You Identify Tortoise Pregnancy?

You can identify whether your female tortoise is pregnant or not either by two of the following methods:

Abdominal Palpation:

Abdominal palpation is the process in which a certain disease/injury or pregnancy is determined. In the case of pregnancy, your vet will usually do an antenatal visit to the abdomen to detect the presence of baby/egg.


You can also distinguish pregnancy by your tortoise’s behavior. Female tortoises usually start digging holes in the soil, just like turtles, to lay their eggs in those holes. This is done to protect their eggs from any predator attack. In this period, they will also seem uncomfortable, agitated, restless, and distressed.

Moreover, if you have a close eye on the activities of your tortoises, you may easily interpret when they are mating. We have a detailed article on How Do You Know If Your Turtles/Tortoises Are Mating? You may give it a quick read and can easily adjust conditions according to your tort behavior.

Appropriate Conditions For Laying Eggs:

You must know that your tortoise habitat usually requires dry areas, unlike turtles who are semi-aquatic reptiles.

However, tortoises prefer to dig soil and lay their eggs in the dark and safest spot they find. Therefore, your tank must have soft and moist soil for the tortoise to lay eggs comfortably. Moreover, the tank must also house a place for comfort basking of the tort mother.

Number Of Breeds:

The tortoise lays eggs once or twice a year which can either be asexual or sexual. However, the frequency and number of eggs vary a lot from species to species.

Age For Mating:

Tortoises usually mate during their maturity period. Unlike turtles, their age of maturity is 15-20 years. There is also a possibility of maturity at the age of 4-5 years.

Mating Season And Behaviour:

Tortoises usually mate during the mild summer, spring seasons. They are not likely to mate during the winter seasons.

In this case, the male will approach the female. After mating, the male tries to avoid his partner’s contact with other male tortoises.

How To Know That An Egg Is Fertilized?

You can distinguish between a fertilized and unfertilized egg by the following trick:

The Trick To Know Fertilization Of The Egg:

  1. Switch off all the lights of the room.
  2. Use a bright torch to see the eggs.
  3. If you see some sort of lines, then these are veins. These veins indicate the fertilization of the baby tortoise.

Hatching Of Eggs:

You don’t need to worry about taking care of the eggs as it is not difficult.

For hatching of eggs for baby tortoises, there are three easy methods:

Natural Hatching Process:

 In this method, the mother tortoise has dug the holes in the soil. You see, this can be practiced only in the wild.

This process will take 8 to 11 weeks which are almost 50 to 80 days, just like that of the turtle.

An Incubator.

An incubator is an artificial device. You just have to adjust the temperature and put the eggs inside it. The temperature range of 27C to 30C is quite suitable.

This process will take less time than the natural hatching process.

Diy Incubator:

In this method, you can either use a box of soil or a UVB light source. Put the eggs inside the box and keep them in the warmer temperature (when kept in soil).

This process will also take almost 50-80 days (when kept in the soil box) as it is very similar to the natural process.

(UVB light is only provided to maintain the temperature balance).

Controlling Production Of Male And Female Tortoises:

You read it right. You can actually control the gender of the tortoise by controlling incubating temperature. This process is highly backed by multiple scientific experiments. However, cent percent results are not always promised.


If the incubator is adjusted with low temperature, the egg will hatch to a male baby.


When the incubator is adjusted with a high (acceptable) temperature, then the egg will hatch to a female baby.


Unlike any other pet, Breeding a pet tortoise is not very difficult. However, you need to have complete information about the behavior of your pet during this period. Moreover, you should be well aware of its needs, so it is never malnourished. If you are planning to artificially hatch the eggs, you need to focus on the ones that are produced after mating.

I hope this article answered all your questions. In case of any further queries, please comment below or contact us. We would be happy to help in all the ways possible.