Can Tortoises and Turtles Mate

Can Tortoises and Turtles Mate?

There are some hybrid animals in existence that are interesting, useful, and fun to think about. Some species can interbreed with varying results. There are mules that are a result of breeding a horse to a donkey. Mules are useful to pack animals, large and hardy. There is the mythical liger which was the breeding of a lion and a tiger together. 

That raises the question as to whether or not a tortoise and a turtle can mate. Can a tortoise and a turtle mate to make one of these hybrid species? It is an interesting question that doesn’t sound like it is out of the realm of possibility.

No tortoises and turtles can not successfully mate. With the intervention of humans, they can help in allowing them to follow out the ritual of mating. However, they are genetically incompatible and will not be able to produce viable offspring. 

Unfortunately no. Tortoises and turtles cannot mate. 

Let’s take a closer look at all the difference what make it impossible and a bad idea to try it out.


A tortoise is a type of turtle, but a turtle is not a tortoise. They are both a part of the same overall family of reptiles, but they are very far removed from one another in their genetics. 

They are both a part of the same order, Testudines, but they are not part of the same sub-order. That makes turtles and tortoises too far apart to breed with one another effectively.

However, turtles and tortoises may be spotted having sex, but that is not the same thing as reproducing. For our purposes, mate means to produce viable offspring, which a tortoise and turtle cannot do together. 

For example, donkeys and horses are both a part of the same genus, Equus. This allows them to crossbreed with one another because they are extremely similar in terms of genetics and biology. 

Horses and donkeys can both have sex as well as mate to produce a viable offspring, a baby mule. Turtles and tortoises are not part of the same genus, they might be able to have sex, but they cannot mate. 

Why Can’t a Turtle and a Tortoise Mate?

The simplest way to explain this is simply that they are not the same species. They are not close enough to one another genetically for there to be any compatibility. They are not in the same family nor the same genus; they are really only related very distantly in the reptile family tree. Their biology simply does not match up properly. 

If they were closer to one another in their classification, they might have been able to attempt to mate, but they are simply too far apart from each other for it to even be feasible. 

A master classification system categorizes the complete catalog of all living things. This system breaks species down into various different categories that groups like with like. 

These categories are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Turtles and tortoises share the same order, but that is it. 

That means they are removed from one another in terms of family, genus, and species. In order to have a potential for a crossbreed, they would need to be in the same genus, but they are not. 

Biological factors prevent breeding tortoises and turtles

The cells in the eggs of turtles and tortoises will not interact with the sperm of the opposing animal. They are completely and undeniably, incompatible when it comes to mating. 

You could put turtles and tortoises and various eggs together, but they will never, ever result in viable offspring. The same reason cats and dogs cannot mate to create a cat-dog is why turtles and tortoises cannot mate to create a similar crossbreed. 

Mating rituals difference

Another big difference that prevents tortoises and turtles from effectively mating is the fact that they have very different mating rituals. 

Turtles are amphibious creatures, and they lay their eggs and mate in the water or near water. Tortoises are desert creatures, and they do their mating on dry land and often in very dry climates that would never be suitable for a turtle.

If the environmental factors are not correct, turtles and tortoises will not be in the mood to attempt a mating ritual. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that they would even attempt to mate with one another. 

Tortoises often like to lay their eggs in the ground, in one of their burrows. Tortoises dig a lot and spend a lot of time on dry ground and under the ground. 

In contrast, turtles spend a lot of time in the water; they lay their eggs in or near bodies of water and do their mating while in the water. So, with these environmental considerations, it would be extremely difficult for a tortoise and turtle even to attempt to mate.

Diseases prevent tortoises and turtles from crossbreeding

Even if you wanted to try to breed a tortoise and a turtle together, they have completely different biological flora and diseases. There could be cross-contamination that would harm or even kill a tortoise or turtle if you put them together. 

This is a general danger to putting any reptiles together that have not been properly vetted and quarantined. It can be doubly dangerous if a turtle and tortoise each harbor a disease that could harm the other. 

Internet Claims

If you come across anyone online claiming to have successfully bred a tortoise and a turtle, it is not true. Some people will make fantastic claims to drive sales, attention, and clicks to their site. 

Sometimes, they could be lying in order to perpetuate a scam or scheme to get your money for something that does not exist. In every one of these cases, the claims are not true as such a crossbreed is impossible. 

If you come across any of these claims about a crossbreed between a turtle and a tortoise, do not trust it. 

Some people even will take pictures of legitimate turtles and tortoise hatchlings, trying to pass them off as a new species. They are not. Do not fall for any of these scams or schemes. 


There is much difference genetically that stops tortoises and turtles from being able to mate successfully. Taking them one by one should prove the point, and being a responsible pet owner, you will want to learn the facts.

Many problems, including diseases, make it not worth the risk of trying to make it happen. Even the mating ritual is not in sink with each other.

Forget what you read online; there are many who claim different things that are not proven by science. I could find you anything online to claim it to be true but listen to the experts, and they say it’s impossible.

Despite the two different reptiles looking the same, they should be left to live their lives without coming into contact with each other. Be responsible and don’t try mating a tortoise and turtle; some can even be seen as cruel.