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Do Female Tortoises Have Periods?

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Samantha Harris

Menstruation isn’t a biological process for female tortoises.

Each year, the female tortoise’s shell gland produces eggshells in anticipation of a fertile ovum. Then, she’ll lay a clutch of eggs. The eggs will never hatch if she doesn’t mate with a male.

Laying unfertilized eggs is the reptile equivalent of menstruation in tortoises.

Unless there’s a problem, female tortoises don’t bleed from their cloaca. A vet should be consulted if a tortoise starts bleeding before, during, or after laying eggs.

Do Female Tortoises Menstruate?

As mentioned, female tortoises don’t menstruate. They have a reproduction cycle where their reproductive organs prepare to form viable ovum, eventually laying eggs.

The tortoise reproduction cycle differs from the human menstruation cycle in the following ways:

  • It only happens once a year.
  • There’s no blood involved.
  • The process takes several weeks.

The tortoise equivalent of menstruation is laying unfertilized eggs.

No eggs hatch, but the female tortoise needs to lay them anyway because this is how her reproductive organs prepare in case the tortoise mates.

The uterus lining is expelled during human periods because no fertilized eggs develop in the uterus. There’s no blood involved with egg-laying because the tortoise doesn’t shed her uterus lining.

Baby tortoises don’t develop in the uterus but rather inside the egg. Since the tortoise develops the egg, regardless of whether the tortoise has mated, an unfertilized egg is released, not blood.

Do Tortoises Have a Menstrual Cycle?

Tortoises don’t have a menstrual cycle, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have a reproductive cycle.

When a female tortoise becomes sexually mature, her reproductive organs will prepare everything it needs to develop a fertile egg.

An ovum will travel through the female tortoise’s oviduct tube. The shell gland will form a shell membrane around it to keep it protected and hydrated.

Once the egg is formed, it goes through the ovipositor and is expelled through the cloaca. The tortoise will lay eggs until her reproduction cycle is complete.

Before and during the egg-laying cycle, a female tortoise needs more calcium.

If she doesn’t have enough nutrients to form and release the eggs, she may suffer egg binding. To stop a female’s reproduction cycle, she can be neutered with ovariohysterectomy surgery.

do tortoises have a menstrual cycle?

Do Female Tortoises Go Through Menopause?

Female tortoises don’t go through menopause. They never truly stop producing eggs, regardless of age.

Some females may produce clutches with fewer eggs as they age, but this may not be due to their age. If her organs weakened over time, it might have been due to illness, not age.

Most reptiles remain fertile their entire lives. Her reproductive organs will function normally if the female is healthy and has sufficient nutrients to produce eggs.

How Do I Know If My Female Tortoise Is Mature?

Female tortoises mature long before they lay their first clutch.

Because sexual maturity is determined by size instead of age in tortoises, the easiest way to know when a female is mature is by weighing and measuring her.

Tortoises become sexually mature when they reach the average adult size for their species.

Going off of behavior will be inaccurate because tortoises can display false mating behavior when aggressive toward other tortoises of the same or opposite sex.

All tortoise species mature at different sizes and weights. For example, sulcata tortoises mature when they have reached 12 to 18 inches in carapace length. It usually takes them 5 years to reach that size.

Russian tortoises take 10 years to reach 7 to 10 inches. Once a female reaches the right size for its species, she’s mature and will start laying eggs that year or the next.

Do Female Tortoises Get Hormonal When Mature?

Female tortoises are calm, but they become territorial when about to lay eggs. Even if a female tortoise hasn’t mated, she’ll act like her eggs will hatch because she doesn’t know any better.

She’ll dig a burrow where she can lay her eggs. If you go near it, she may be more aggressive than usual. If she shares an enclosure, she’ll be hostile toward them to keep them away.

Once your tortoise has laid the last egg, she’ll lose interest in them and return to being herself.

Why Is My Female Tortoise Bleeding from Her Cloaca?

If a female tortoise is bleeding from her cloaca, this isn’t because she’s on her period. When tortoises bleed from their vent, it’s usually for one of the following reasons:

  • Cloacitis.
  • Ovipositor tears.
  • Internal injuries.
  • Parasites.
  • External injuries.
  • Egg binding.

Bleeding from the vent is abnormal, especially if it isn’t time for a tortoise to lay eggs.

Why Is There Blood on My Tortoise’s Eggs?

If a female tortoise lays eggs with blood on them, there’s no need to worry.

Although it’s rare for there to be blood after a tortoise has laid eggs, it can happen occasionally. That’s especially true if the tortoise has laid many eggs in a short time.

There usually isn’t any blood when laying eggs because a tortoise’s reproductive system works differently than that of mammals.

The reproductive organs create the shell that protects the ovum. Once formed, the shell should smoothly pass through the ovipositor tube without issue.

If there’s some blood, it could be because the ovipositor has been overworked and experienced a slight tear. If there’s a lot of blood, it indicates a more significant health problem.