Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gopher Tortoise Mating Dance

For the last week one of our resident gopher tortoise has been remodeling her burrow. She has been flicking sand with her front feet left and right. Some of the sand lands four or five feet away. Then yesterday we noticed she had a visitor. The female tortoise is on the left, male on right. If the female is in the burrow the male stands at the entrance bobbing his head up and down enticing her to come out. They face each other and bob their heads up and down in a silent mating dance.

 I was amazed at how animated their head bobbing could be. After a quite a while of head bobbing, the male gives the female a small love bite on the leg to get her to turn around.

After mating the female returns to her burrow in the ground. This female has been active all this week remodeling her burrow, kicking sand left and right. I found this you tube video of the gopher tortoise mating so you can see their mating dance almost as if you were there.

We're hoping to see some egg laying and some baby tortoise around here one of these days. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. Great post. So cool to have such critters close to you. Love it!

  2. Excellent were so lucky to have a good view and that they were intensely interested in themselves...mmm, kind of like people, no? Well, I guess most of us aren't voyeurs for other people...just tortoises! tx

  3. Hi Ronna, thanks, they are such gentle creatures and much smarter than I ever realized. One walked down the middle of the street yesterday just to come to our jelly palm tree for the fruit that dropped on the ground. They travel fair distances to eat what is in season.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, I was thinking of the voyeur aspect when I was posting this but it was so interesting to see them bobbing their heads and then I found the video which showed others doing the same thing. Our windows afford great opportunities for observing nature in it's natural state. If I try to capture the female when she is by herself, she immediately slides back into her burrow so I was really lucky to get these photos of both of them.

  4. You have some great opportunities to witness nature. I never thought I'd spent six minutes watching a tortoise mating ritual on video. It was really interesting. Nature is so fascinating. I think the video should have had music, maybe Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." :)

  5. Hi Teresa, thanks, I was so lucky each day I saw the female remodeling her burrow and kept checking back and then I saw the male visiting here. Aren't they so cute with their bobbing heads, each one has it's own personality, yeah I thought the video could have had music, it would have been a hoot with Marvin Gaye's song; maybe some classical would be better, it seems so peaceful to see the mating ritual, nature's renewal, like the bird's building their nests and feeding their young.

  6. Best wishes to the happy couple!

  7. I wonder if they could be modelled/sculpted in clay? Art immitates life.

  8. Oh what a great post. I hope there will be small ones.


  9. I just read another article about two turtles, these 2 were getting divorced after 115 years. Let's hope these two stay together longer.

  10. Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, amazing things are happening right out my window.

    Hi Joanne, thanks, yes I did do a turtle wall tile but never sculpted one, perhaps one day.

    Hi Elna, thanks, I hope there will be small ones too but we worry about not seeing them when we mow the lawn.

    Hi Lori, thanks, after 115 years amazing and sad.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment