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When Do Turtles Lay Eggs? Month & Time of Day

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

close up turtle eggs on ground

Turtles are incredible creatures that inhabit terrestrial spaces and the seas and oceans worldwide. While there are thousands of turtle species worldwide, they all have similar habits, especially in mating and nesting—two of the most important reptile rituals. Most turtles will wait until warm weather to nest, although some river-dwelling species might nest between January and March. Most turtle species, however, will nest between May and September, while certain sea turtles will even nest in late October. The nesting time mostly depends on the location and temperature.

To learn more about the turtles’ nesting habits, read the article below.

Turtle Reproduction Cycle

Figuring out when your pet turtle might be ready to lay eggs can be a real mystery. Several behavioral signs can tell you your turtle is ready to lay eggs. She may search for a particular spot to nest, so you need to monitor its behavior closely. While some things are out of control in the wild, breeding turtles in captivity allows for human intervention.

Important

It is very important to note that female reptiles in captivity can lay eggs even without a male present. These eggs will not hatch. An inability to lay eggs properly can lead to major health issues for the female turtle.

If you notice your female turtle struggling to lay eggs, acting strange for unexplained reasons, or struggling to swim, consult your veterinarian promptly.

Terrapin Turtle starting to lay eggs
Image Credit: Rudi1395, Shutterstock

When Do Turtles Lay Eggs?

While some turtle species can lay eggs throughout the year, others choose a particular time of year and time of day. Most turtles will lay their eggs annually or twice a year, while very few species will lay eggs every other year. They emerge primarily during the night to avoid predators and being affected by the scorching heat. However, some species emerge to lay eggs during the day only because they do it in mass nesting groups of hundreds, called arribada 1.

Turtles mostly choose the warmest time of year to lay eggs since the optimal temperatures for eggs to hatch are between 80°F and 90°F (26.7 – 32 °C), depending on the species. This can also vary depending on the location, so their nesting can occur between May and September. Sea turtles can even lay eggs in late October, given that the conditions are still ideal 2.

Turtles depend on the warm weather for the eggs to hatch to ensure the eggs’ proper development and the embryos’ health. Their humidity conditions also need to be near perfect to prevent any infections or even death of the embryo.

Certain river-dwelling turtles may travel along the river in search of a perfect nesting site. If these turtles, such as the River Terrapins, mate during November and December, they will nest between January and March.

How Many Eggs Can Turtles Lay?

As mentioned above, most turtle species lay eggs once a year, while few exceptions lay twice or every other year. This factor is essential for determining the size of one clutch, as a single clutch of sea turtle can contain between 80 and 180 eggs, depending on the species. This number is impressive, considering that some sea turtle species can have between six and ten clutches during the nesting season. Whereas river-dwelling turtles typically lay about 25-35 eggs each season. On the lower end of the spectrum, some species only lay a clutch of about 1-5 eggs.

turtle laying eggs
Image By: Jarib, Shutterstock

How Do Turtle Eggs Hatch?

All turtles, no matter their habitat, need to emerge from the shells of their eggs, which are always very soft, to prevent them from breaking before time. This is why all hatchlings have a developed caruncle, a keratinous bump on their snouts. They use this bump to push against the inner surface of the egg. The hatchlings then begin digging upwards, usually in a group effort. If the hatchlings are aquatic turtles, they will proceed to move toward the water, while terrestrial species will search for shelter under leaf litter or dense vegetation.

Final Thoughts

Once you learn about the incredible little rituals of the sweet and lovely turtles, you may look at them from an entirely new perspective. They spend most of their year searching for ideal places to nest, searching for the perfect conditions for their hatchlings to survive. They mostly lay eggs during warm weather, which can, depending on their location, be between May to late September and late October.


Featured Image Credit: SunsetPaper, Shutterstock

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