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Golden Greek Nesting

Good egg layers

My golden / Mesopotamian Greek tortoises are very efficient egg layers. They dig fairly shallow nests and plop the eggs in quickly and easily. They have a slightly flexible hinge on their plastrons which makes passing eggs easy.

Aggression before nesting

Several days before nesting, a gravid female golden Greek tortoise can become quite restless and aggressive. She may ram, mount and push other tortoises in her enclosure. Both males and females can be her targets. If you didn't know for sure she's a female, you might think she's a he.

This pre-nesting aggression can be more severe if the tortoises have no outdoor access and are limited to a small indoor enclosure. In that case it may best to temporarily remove the other tortoises from the pen to allow the gravid female to nest and lay her eggs in peace. If she cannot find a suitable place to lay her eggs, she can become eggbound.

female Golden / Mesopotamian Greek tortoises

This looks like a mating pair of golden Greek tortoises, but it's actually two females. The aggressive female is acting just like a mating male, even her mouth is open. She laid her eggs a day or two later, and immediately calmed down.

Indoor nesting

Ideally, keep golden Greek tortoises outdoors whenever possible. They will do well and appreciate the large space, natural vegetation, and sunshine, but I know that sometimes outdoor keeping is not possible and tortoises have to nest indoors. Fortunately, my goldens are not very picky with their nest sites and accept occasional indoor nesting quite well. When I acquired adult goldens, I kept them indoors for the first winter and then let them stay oudoors year round.

golden  Mesopotamian Greek tortoise laying an egg

Golden girl laying her eggs indoors. Sudden thickening of the tail is a sure sign that an egg is about to be laid. Here the tip of the egg is already visible.

golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoise laying eggs

There's the first egg! She will then shuffle the egg into the right position with her back legs before laying the next one.

golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoise laying eggs

Another egg clutch by the same female. Indoor nesting substrate should be deep, tightly compacted, and slightly damp so that it will keep the shape of the nest hole. This one is a mixture of garden soil and coconut coir.

Outdoor nesting

All my adult, subadult, and older golden Greek youngsters live outdoors year round. Some more sensitive individuals have heated houses for winter, but most of them have no additional heat.

Nesting outdoors is easy; there's always a suitable nesting spot somewhere in the enclosures. I leave most of my golden eggs in the ground and only incubate a small number of the eggs. A few times I have found tiny hatchlings who hatched naturally in the ground.

mama golden Greek tortoise covering her nest

Outdoors, tortoise nests are very well camouflaged. This mama golden Greek is leaving the nest she has just finished covering. If I didn't know where her nest was, I wouldn't find it.

Mesopotamian Greek tortoise nesting

A more beige colored Golden Greek mama I hatched and raised is laying her eggs outdoors.

golden Mesopotamian greek tortoise nesting outdoors

Golden Greek tortoise digging her nest outdoors. The soil is dry, but she managed to to dig the nest hole without any trouble. Unlike my angulates and Burmese stars, my goldens do not urinate during nesting to soften the soil.

golden Greek tortoise nesting

Suddenly, her tail gets very thick. The first egg is coming!

golden Greek tortoise nesting

There it is! The egg's in the nest.

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