How many eggs does a turtle lay at a time?

Nesting green turtle by Lim Wei Li

Written by Farhanah Shahdan

Farhanah is passionate about marine animals and is excited to play a part in their conservation. By joining TCS as an intern, she hopes to learn about the challenges in wildlife conservation, in particular, turtle conservation.

30 Mar 2021

Did you know that the number of eggs in a turtle nest, known as a clutch, varies depending on the species? Most species lay eggs once a year; a few species lay every other year, and some species lay more than twice in a single nesting season.

During the nesting season, sea turtles typically lay between six and ten clutches of eggs. Some green turtles were recorded to have laid 12 nests in a season! Depending on the species and size of the turtle, a clutch will contain between 80-180 eggs. The largest sea turtle—the Leatherback turtles—lay approximately 110 eggs per clutch. Meanwhile, the Hawksbill turtles produce the largest clutches, with up to 140-160 eggs in a nest!

The river-dwelling turtles move along the river in search of large sandbars (or sandbanks) with suitable nesting conditions. River terrapins mate in-water during the Northeast monsoon, in November and December. Then, they lay their eggs from the end of January to mid-March. Females typically lay about 25-35 eggs each season. The largest river terrapin clutches recorded 42 and 43 eggs, respectively.

Tortoises, on the other hand, are very particular when it comes to selecting a suitable nest site. For incubation purposes, they must search for a location that receives sunlight and has very well-drained soil. A single mating will result in the fertilisation of up to 30 eggs, but these will not be laid in a single clutch. Following fertilisation, the tiny eggs are separated into clutches of two to twelve, depending on the species, and then allowed to develop to full size one clutch at a time.

References:

  1. Breeding and Incubation (n.d). Retrieved on 19 March 2021. Link.
  2. How do sea turtles hatch? (2021) Retrieved on 19 March 2021. Link.
  3. Nesting and egg laying (n.d). Retrieved on 19 March 2021. Link.
  4. How long do sea turtle live? And other sea turtle facts (n.d). Retrieved on 19 March 2021. Link.
  5. Differences between sea turtles, freshwater turtles and tortoises (2019). Retrieved on 19 March 2021. Link.
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