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Do Female Tortoises Have Periods?

(Last Updated On: September 3, 2023)

Knowing when a female tortoise is mature is important if you want her to lay fertile eggs.

Due to the lack of sexual dysmorphism, it can be difficult to identify when a female tortoise is ready to lay eggs. After all, the tortoise reproduction cycle differs from other animals.

Female tortoises don’t have periods. Once a year, the female tortoise’s shell gland will create eggshells in preparation for a fertile ovum.

If the female tortoise hasn’t mated with a male, she’ll lay eggs, but none will hatch. This is the reptile equivalent of human menstruation.

Female tortoises don’t bleed from their cloaca unless something is wrong. If your tortoise starts bleeding before, during, or after laying eggs, it should be examined by a veterinarian.

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 releasing them from the body.

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 can take several weeks.

The tortoise equivalent of menstruation is laying unfertilized eggs. Female tortoises lay eggs once a year, so if they haven’t mated, they’ll still form and lay 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.

A difference between menstruation and tortoise egg laying is how long it lasts. A woman’s menstruation cycle can last a few days to a week. Tortoises can lay eggs once a year for weeks at a time.

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 every year. The shell gland will form a shell membrane around it to keep it protected and hydrated.

Once the egg is properly formed, it goes through the ovipositor, a tube-like organ, and then expelled through the cloaca. The tortoise will lay multiple clutches of eggs for a few weeks until her reproduction cycle is complete.

How long it takes for the tortoise to lay all her eggs depends on the following:

  • Diet.
  • Health.
  • Mating.
  • Environment.

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, no matter how old they get. Some female tortoises may produce clutches with fewer eggs as they age, but this may not have much to do with their age. If her organs weakened over time, it might have been because of an illness, not age.

Most reptiles stay fertile their entire lives. If the female tortoise is healthy and has enough nutrients to produce the eggs, her reproductive organs will continue to function normally.

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 best way to know when your 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 won’t be accurate because tortoises can display false mating behavior when aggressive toward other tortoises of the same or opposite sex.

Different tortoise species will 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 get that big. Russian tortoises take 10 years to grow to be 7 to 10 inches. Once your female tortoise reaches the right size for its species, you can assume she’s mature and will start laying eggs that year or the next.

Do Female Tortoises Get Hormonal When They Are Mature?

Female tortoises are calm, but they become territorial when about to lay eggs. Even if your 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 might be more aggressive than usual. If she shares an enclosure, she’ll be aggressive toward them to keep them away.

Thankfully, this behavior doesn’t last long. 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 due to one of the following reasons:

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

Bleeding from the vent isn’t normal, especially if it isn’t time for your tortoise to lay eggs.

Why Is There Blood on My Tortoise’s Eggs?

If your female tortoise lays eggs and there’s some blood on them, there’s no need to panic.

Although it’s rare for there to be blood after a tortoise has laid eggs, it’s known to happen on occasion. That’s especially true if the tortoise has laid many eggs over 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 will protect the ovum. Once this has formed, the shell should smoothly pass through the ovipositor tube without a problem.

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 problem.