How to Know if your Tortoise is Pregnant

How to Know if your Tortoise is Pregnant

If you have a female and a male pet tortoises, you will already know that the female can become pregnant. It is of great importance that you detect this as soon as possible in order to adapt your tortoise's environment to its specific needs, and to be able to go to the vet if there are any signs of problems during this process.

Being reptiles, at first it might seem more difficult to spot certain conditions such as pregnancy in tortoises. However, with the right knowledge and patience you will know exactly what is happening to your pet.

This AnimalWised article will clarify some aspects of tortoise reproduction, and we will show you how to know if your tortoise is pregnant.

How do tortoises reproduce?

The tortoise is an oviparous vertebrate reptile, which means that it reproduces by laying eggs. There is a great diversity of species, and some of them even live under protection because they are endangered. This reproductive cycle refers specifically to the tortoise, not the turtle.

The first thing to know about tortoise reproduction and pregnancy is that these reptiles reach sexual maturity at around 7-10 years of age when healthy. From this point onward, the tortoise's reproduction process will begin by mating with a male.

  • The mating season is between April and June.
  • Female tortoises have the ability to store sperm inside themselves in order to fertilize the eggs that they lay. This sperm can be stored and still be functional for 3 years.
  • Tortoises normally lay between 2 and 12 eggs, although this varies depending on the particular species.
  • The eggs hatch between August and October.

You should also note that the incubation period is shorter when the temperature is higher, which may influence the time of hatching.

How to know if your tortoise is pregnant

In order to tell whether your tortoise is pregnant, you need to use the palpation technique to check for eggs inside. To do this you will need to feel the abdomen, so we recommend following these steps:

  • It is normal for the tortoise to resist and kick out.
  • You should take advantage of this movement and block one of its hind legs. This can be done by simply holding one of your fingers on the inside of the leg, preventing it from moving.
  • Blocking one of its legs will give you access the side of its abdomen, an area to which you must pay special attention.
  • Gently press one or two of your fingers on the side of the abdomen to palpate. If the area is soft, you are feeling its viscera; if you notice something spherical and hard, your tortoise is pregnant

While abdominal palpation is the most reliable method to verify the pregnancy of a tortoise, there are also behavioral signs that it is pregnant. When a tortoise lays eggs, it starts to dig holes in the ground, so its very important at this moment in time for your pet tortoise to have soft earth in order to do so. Otherwise it can retain the eggs, which poses a serious risk.

Warning signs during pregnancy

If your pet tortoise is pregnant, you must pay special attention to certain signs that might indicate a disease; even if they're not usually a cause of worry, they take a different meaning during breeding season:

  • Red, swollen eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Lack of appetite
  • Shell problems
  • Spots on the skin
  • Head swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Edema
  • Difficulty in breathing

If you notice any of these signs it is important to go to the vet as soon as possible; they may indicate a disease, which for a pregnant tortoise would be more dangerous than normally.

To prevent any harm to your tortoise, you should always be careful with the other pets at home.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if your Tortoise is Pregnant, we recommend you visit our Gestation category.