How to tell if a turtle is pregnant

Since turtles have hard shells covering the majority of their body, you might be wondering how you can tell if a turtle is pregnant. The truth is that it is much harder to tell when a turtle is pregnant since the eggs are concealed and underneath the shell. That being said, with my simple technique, it is very easy to tell when your turtle has eggs. 

How to tell if a turtle is pregnant

There is an easy, two step system to tell if a turtle is pregnant. The key is to telling if a turtle is pregnant is indicating a change in behavior, and then feeling for the eggs.

Change in behavior

The first step in telling if a turtle is pregnant is by noticing a change in behavior. This is why it is always important to observe your turtle’s behavior so that your can recognize when they are acting differently. If there is a change in behavior, this indicates that your turtle could be sick, or has eggs. A turtle that is pregnant will usually have a change in their basking routine. This might mean your turtle is always basking, or they might completely stop.

One key sign that your turtle is pregnant is if she starts digging at the basking platform. This is because in the wild a turtle usually digs and makes a nest for their turtle eggs. A pregnant turtle might also have a change in their eating habits. Lastly, pregnant turtles usually become very restless. They will start moving around the tank more sporadically, and probably will display new behaviors they have never showed before.

Feeling for the eggs

If you notice a sudden change in behavior and suspect your turtle is pregnant, the next step should be to feel for the egg. The key to this technique is to gently slide your fingers (one on each side) through the back end of the turtle. Make sure you put your fingers in front of her back legs. You should slide your fingers up the side of the turtle to feel around their stomach. I recommend using your pointer fingers, as you can see in the picture below. 

If your turtle is pregnant, you should be able to feel the eggs on both sides. You shouldn’t press your fingers hard into their stomach. All you should do is just rest your fingers inside the shell. If your turtle has eggs, the eggs will naturally press up against your fingers. It is really helpful if you also have a male turtle you can test this technique on. If you put your fingers up against their stomach, you will know what it feels like if a turtle isn’t pregnant. Then you should definitely be able to tell the difference if you stick your fingers into your female turtle’s shell and feel eggs. There are usually a couple eggs on each side of the turtle’s stomach. 

How to incubate turtle eggs?

Incubating turtle eggs refers to creating a favorable environment for the embryo in turtle eggs to develop. This primarily means regulating the temperature and making sure the eggs are nut moved around a lot. In order to incubate turtle eggs, you should purchase a turtle egg incubator. You can buy this one on amazon.

egg incubator for pregnant turtle

In order to incubate turtle eggs, you first want to transfer the eggs to the incubator. You want to make sure that you keep the eggs right side up, as turning the eggs upside down can damage the embryo. The ideal temperature to incubate turtle eggs is around 87 degrees fahrenheight. You should set that as your target temperature on your incubator.

How long do turtle eggs take to hatch

While the number of eggs usually varies by breed, almost all turtle eggs take around 2 months to hatch. This is referred to as the incubation period. While turtles are semi-aquatic animals, all breeds of turtles lay their eggs on land. It is important to note that all the eggs in the nest will not hatch at the same time, and can vary by days and sometimes even weeks. An egg that never hatches means that it is infertile.

How many eggs does a turtle lay at once?

The amount of eggs a turtle lays at once is entirely dependent on the breed of turtle. Below is a chart that shows how many eggs each breed of turtle lays at one time.

Red Eared Sliders usually lay 2-20 eggs at one time.

Snapping turtles usually lay 20-40 eggs at one time.

Box Turtles usually lay 5 eggs at one time.

Painted Turtles usually lay 4-10 eggs at one time.

How many eggs do sea turtles lay?

Sea turtles lay way more eggs at one time compared to land turtles. This is because around 90% of sea turtle eggs are eaten by predators before they hatch. 

Leatherback sea turtles usually lay around 50-90 eggs at one time.

Green sea turtles usually lay around 100 eggs at one time.

Loggerhead sea turtles usually lay around 100-120 eggs at one time.

Here is a chart with all of the popular breeds of turtles together.

How many eggs does a turtle lay at once?

Can a female turtle have eggs by itself?

Yes, female turtles can lay eggs even if she lives in a tank by itself. This is because a female turtle produces eggs on her own, and then the eggs are fertilized. A Turtles usually lay eggs in the spring as the temperature outside increases. However, since the conditions of a turtle tank are usually always constant, a female pet turtle can lay eggs year around.

What to do if your turtle lays eggs?

Unfortunately, the odds of the egg being properly incubated and reaching the hatching stage is very small. However, it has definitely happened before. If the egg does hatch successfully and you decide to keep it, you should check out my article on how to care for a red eared slider baby.

If by a miracle there are several hatchlings that survive, you will certainly need a much larger tank. If getting a new tank isn’t an option, you can try donating the turtles to a local animal hospital or a pet store.

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