Animal Behavior

African Sulcata Nest and Eggs at Crazy Critters Inc.

According To Reptile Magazine… Captive African spurred tortoises (Centrochelys [Geochelone] sulcata) may mate throughout the year. The behavior begins in autumn when morning temperatures are cooler. Male Sulcata Tortoises court females by ramming them. Either steering them into obstacles or attempting to get in front of them. The goal is to stop a female long enough for a male to mount her. Consequently, mating is accompanied by hoarse grunts that can be quite loud.


In the wild, egg laying activity would take place in spring or early summer to allow the hatchlings to grow a little before their first hibernation.  There is, however, no set breeding season for the majority of tortoises in captivity and egg production can take place at any time of year.

In captivity, nesting occurs between six and eight weeks after mating. First of all, females begin by digging a pit with their front legs. Most noteworthy, usually, against an object, such as a pen wall, the pit is sloped deeper on one end and looks like the start of a burrow. While the female backs into the pit, she excavates the egg chamber with her rear legs. Following, she deposits the eggs and meticulously covers the nest. In fact, the whole process can take hours and hours. Females may produce four to five clutches in a season. Furthermore, the clutches may be spaced 30 to 40 days apart.

While each clutch may produce 12 to 24 eggs. In contrast, tropical tortoises such as Leopard tortoises can produce on average between 6-20 eggs or more each month for up to approximately 7 months of the year.  The eggs are large and are similar in size and shape to a ping pong ball.  The even larger Sulcata tortoise can lay between 15-30 eggs per clutch 2-5 times per year.

The plastron of a female tortoise often has a noticeable V-shaped notch below the tail which facilitates passing the eggs. The size of the egg depends on the size of the mother and can be estimated by examining the width of the cloacal opening between the carapace and plastron. Please note that if a suitable nesting site isn’t naturally available, then you must ensure that a suitable one is constructed. As a result, there is the possibility the tortoise will not find anywhere suitable to lay her eggs. Consequently, she may retain them. As a result, a potentially dangerous life-threatening condition.

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Crazy Critters Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)3, Exotic Animal Rescue and Wildlife Education Facility located in Eustis, Florida. We provide permanent homes to over 150 animals including lizards, turtles, skinks, geckos, birds, and assorted wildlife. Crazy Critters Inc. was established to provide non-domestic, non-releasable animals with a safe and permanent home.

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