Russian Tortoise Digging Nest For Hours


New Member
5 Year Member
Jun 29, 2012
Location (City and/or State)
Central California
I saw a few threads that were similar but they appeared to be old ones so I will start a new one. I have Daphne, Velma, and Fred. They have always been together and have never laid eggs. Fred often mates with the girls in the Spring but he doesn't "hound" them and the mating period is short. The three are housed together in an outdoor enclosure and spend most of the year in that enclosure except in the winter when I put them in hibernation boxes. They have few territory issues and Velma appears to be Alpha.

Last Fall, I was given a male RT. He is not housed with my others as he is far too aggressive and fights with Fred. But, the new male mated with both females shortly after they came out of hibernation in early-March and now both females are displaying behavior that would indicate that they are gravid. Velma has been digging "test nests" for almost two weeks now. Yesterday she sat on the same hole and dug pretty much all day but did not lay eggs. Today she is doing the same thing in the same place as yesterday. She does not appear to be "straining" and she does not appear to be egg bound as she finishes digging her hole and is active inside the enclosure. By the way, she is the only tort in her enclosure at the moment so she is not being distracted by others. I am ready with the incubator if she does actually lay some eggs.

Any ideas or suggestions as to why she is digging these lovely nesting holes but is not laying eggs is appreciated. Or, any suggestions regarding anything I can do to help her? All of my torts are at least 8" long except Fred but he is just a cute little "runt."


Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Sep 6, 2011
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
A tort being a tort. You might soak her in warm water in a very large tub. The warm water and movement will help if she needs to expel an egg. However, if she is acting normal, other then all the digging, she just might not be ready to lay yet. My leopard has done that twice. Dig all day for nothing.


The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Sounds normal for a first time mom. Daily soaks for a little while will hurt nothing, and might help a lot.

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