Can Turtles and Tortoises Mate?

can turtles and tortoises mate

Have you ever seen a hybrid of a turtle and a tortoise? Neither have I. 

People often confuse themselves between turtles and tortoises. Most tortoises are turtles, but all turtles are not tortoises. It’s difficult for people to differentiate between them, which leads to the problem of crossbreeding. Hence the answer is no. Different experiments by scientists all over the world have proven that Turtles and Tortoises cannot mate. 

However, all tortoises are in fact turtles. They belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, which means that they are reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell. Turtles belong to the remaining four families of the order Testudinidae. Not all turtles are tortoises. Tortoises and turtles are genetically incompatible, meaning even if they are helped to mate scientifically, the offspring will have certain health problems. The offspring will likely never be able to reproduce again. There is not even a single hybrid who has survived in the evolution of millions of years. 

Related Article: Can Turtles And Tortoises Live Together?

Why shouldn’t we allow turtle and tortoise to crossbreed?

Turtles and Tortoises are endangered globally. If they are not preserved and looked after properly, the species might get extinct. It might be okay for other animals such as dogs, horses, or donkeys to crossbreed, but tortoises shouldn’t be allowed to crossbreed as it might cause problems to the offspring. 

Turtles live in freshwater while tortoises live on land. A tortoise is larger than a turtle. A male tortoise is very aggressive during mating season. They can cause harm to the female turtles, which can lead to the rupture of their shell. 

The animal kingdom is the broadest of all the other seven divisions. Humans and tortoises belong to the “animal kingdom”, yet we cannot mate because we are not the same species. 

As we all know, the turtles belong to the order Testudines. There are five separate families within the order, i.e. Chelydriae, Dermochelyidae, Cheloniidae, Trionychidae, and Testudinidae. Based on scientific research, tortoises are Testudinidae, whereas other turtles belong to other families. So, a turtle and a tortoise can’t mate. This proves that people have been confused between the two of them and have unknowingly replaced the linguistic use of the words turtle and tortoise. 

Next time when someone boasts about having a turtle and a tortoise hybrid, chances are it isn’t true.

What are the reasons behind Turtle and Tortoise not mating?

The mating behaviour of a turtle and a tortoise are different. They have a different mating ritual which is another significant reason why they cannot mate. 

1. They have different mating grounds.

Tortoises mate on the ground while turtles mate inside water. The courtship behavior of the turtles prevents them from mating on the ground. 

2. Moral rituals.

Turtles and Tortoises carry bacteria and germs that might not suit each other and can cause illness and even death. They live in different environments. It’s against the law to keep these two species inside a confined area to breed. Turtles usually need water to live while tortoises live on land. So, keeping them together can cause immediate death or a slow and painful one. 

How do tortoises mate?

As I have mentioned above, male tortoises have an aggressive nature when they mate, and they don’t take the consent of the female tortoises. Usually, the male bobs his head at the female and nips at her front legs and the front edges of her shell. This usually makes her stop and give in, as they usually mate. They can handle some nastiness and even enjoy the process. The noise of the tortoises mating can be heard from miles away. 

How do turtles mate?

The turtles aren’t as aggressive as tortoises when they mate. The male turtle will try to woo the female turtle by approaching them underwater during the mating season. The male will climb onto the female’s back while she’s swimming. During mating, the male will reach his tail underneath the back of the female’s shell. His long penis will emerge from his cloaca to penetrate the female cloaca. 


I came across certain links where people said that they performed crossbreeding of the two species and produced the offspring. Yes, turtles and tortoises can create their hybrids, but it is dangerous. The offspring won’t be able to live longer and will also lose their ability to reproduce. 

It’s against nature to crossbreed the two species, just like it’s against nature to crossbreed a horse and a dog. Science has proven that it’ll be fatal if the turtles and the tortoises mate. 

We conclude that the turtles and the tortoises cannot mate due to the above-stated facts proven by science.