Updated: March 11, 2022 by Jennifer Munsell
What are the main differences between snake eggs vs turtle eggs?
When coming across a clutch of eggs in the wild, you may ask yourself if they are turtle or snake eggs. Thankfully, there are a few key differences between snake vs turtle eggs that will help you identify which animal they belong to.
For starters, snake eggs have a rather distinct shape and feel, whereas turtle eggs can be a little more difficult to identify because they often vary quite widely in texture and appearance. However, there’s a lot more to telling the difference between the two than simply looking at their shape!
Having the ability to determine what eggs may have been laid in your back garden or along your favorite hiking path can be vital to your health as well as the preservation of the eggs themselves!.
Turtle eggs are harmless, and it would be worthwhile to keep an eye on the clutch for hatching time for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Venomous snakes, on the other hand, can be deadly right out of the egg.
Knowing the difference between turtle and snake eggs is more than just fun trivia you can share at the next dinner party; it can actually be life-saving knowledge.
Read on to find out about the key differences between snake and turtle eggs.
The Main Differences Between Snake Eggs vs Turtle Eggs
The main differences between snake eggs vs turtle eggs are:
- Snake eggs are oval in shape, whereas turtle eggs are rounder.
- Snake eggs are softer in texture and feel rubbery, whereas most turtle eggs are more rigid like birds’ eggs.
- Snake eggs are whitish or off-white in color, whereas turtle eggs are cream colored.
- Snake eggs are found above ground or in leaf litter, whereas turtle eggs will be buried.
Snake Eggs vs Turtle Eggs: Overview
It is important to note that not all snakes lay eggs. Some snakes are viviparous or ovoviviparous, which means they give birth to live young. However, those that do lay eggs have very typical-looking oval-shaped eggs.
In fact, snakes’ eggs are so similar to one another that it is difficult to tell the species apart based only on the eggs, even for the experts! Let’s go over what most snake eggs look and feel like as well as where you’ll typically find them to make things a bit clearer.
All turtles are strictly oviparous. That means they only lay eggs and do not give live birth.
This is because the space inside a turtle’s shell is limited, and the opening of their shell where their cloaca is located is fairly small. Giving live birth would be an evolutionary mistake, as the turtles born would be incredibly small and have a poor chance at survival.
As we did with snake eggs, let’s go over how turtle eggs look and feel as well as where you’ll typically find them in the wild.
Snake eggs are generally oblong and whitish or off-white in color. They almost look like an overgrown, slightly dirty Tic-Tac! They do not have any natural patterns on them, and they do not come in different colors like some bird eggs.
If you find a snake egg that has green, blue, or black markings on it, then it is most likely that the embryo has died and the egg is rotting.
If you shine a light through the shell, you will be able to see the little snake developing inside the egg! This process is known as “candling,” and it can be useful if you want to check the development of many kinds of reptiles’ eggs. Just be gentle!
How Do Turtle Eggs Look?
Turtle eggs are white to a creamy yellow in color. This immediately sets them apart from snake eggs.
Turtle eggs can be oblong like snake eggs or round like a ping pong ball. They will not be the same shape as an oval bird’s egg with a tapered tip.
So, if snake eggs and turtle eggs can both be oblong, then how can you tell the difference?
Well, turtle eggs are very small. If the egg you’ve found is over an inch in length, then it is likely a snake’s egg. If it is under an inch long, then it is most likely a turtle’s egg if you can match it up with other physical characteristics such as texture.
Turtle eggs are so small because they have a limited amount of space to pass through when they are being laid. The opening of a turtle’s shell does not stretch larger like a snake’s cloaca will when they are passing eggs. Therefore, this limits the ultimate size a turtle egg will be.
The size of a turtle’s egg is in direct comparison to the size of the turtle. Small turtles, like red-eared sliders for example, will have smaller eggs, and larger turtles like land tortoises will have larger eggs.
What Do Snake Eggs Feel Like?
Snake eggs are unlike hard-shelled bird eggs. Snakes lay leathery or rubbery eggs that do not have rigid shells. The shells are soft and semi-permeable. This means water can enter through the shell.
The typical snake egg feels like a small water balloon that is filled up halfway with gelatin. As water enters the shell during the course of incubation, the egg will swell in size. This is to accommodate the growth of the snake.
It is important to note that picking up and feeling a snake egg can detach the embryo from the shell wall. This will cause the developing snake to die. When handling eggs, never squeeze them, shake them, or turn them upside down.
Snake eggs will also often be covered in a mucus that, once dry, will stick the eggs together. If you pick up the eggs, you might tear eggs that are stuck together apart and kill the embryos.
What Do Turtle Eggs Feel Like?
Turtle eggs can range from being hard like a bird’s egg to soft and leathery like a snake’s egg. The harder the turtle’s eggshell is, the less permeable it is, which means it will not let in as much water.
There is a plus side to this feature: It will not dry out as fast as other animals’ eggs that are more permeable.
Where Will You Find Snake Eggs?
Snakes generally lay their eggs in nests, hollow trees, or under leaf litter. The nest will usually be dark and humid. This is to keep the eggs safe from predators as well as to keep them well-hydrated and prevent them from drying out and dying.
Where Will You Find Turtle Eggs?
All turtles (as we currently know them) are aquatic or semi-aquatic reptiles. They only come onto dry land to lay their eggs. This is because their eggs cannot survive underwater as they are slightly permeable.
The non-aquatic exception would be land turtles, also known as tortoises! They do not risk being born into water; however, their eggs need to be incubated in similar circumstances, as their shells are still semi-permeable.
Therefore, all turtle eggs (aquatic, semi-aquatic, and non-aquatic) will be buried to a certain degree in warm, moist sand. Most species of turtles need a humidity level of 70% to incubate correctly.
You will generally find turtle eggs in river banks, on beaches above the high tide mark, and in damp soil around swamps and bogs.
FAQs About Turtle and Snake Eggs
Are snake eggs and turtle eggs incubated at the same temperature?
Snake and turtle eggs are incubated at different temperatures and in different conditions. This also extends to the different species of turtles and snakes.
If you are unsure of what kind of egg you have and you would like to incubate it correctly, take it to your local exotic vet or breeder. They may be able to identify the egg for you or at least give you their professional advice.
How big is a clutch of snake eggs versus a clutch of turtle eggs?
There is no definitive answer for this question. Smaller species of turtles will lay small clutches because they have a limited amount of space inside their rigid shells for the eggs to develop before being laid.
Similarly, larger turtles usually lay large clutches. Leatherback turtles, for example, lay an average of 100 eggs per clutch!
A snake’s clutch size will vary according to their species and whether they are viviparous, oviparous, or ovoviviparous.
Check out our guide on which snakes give birth to live babies!
What must I do if I find a clutch of snake or turtle eggs?
If you stumble upon a clutch of eggs while you are out on a hike or relaxing on a beach, then the best advice would be to leave the eggs where they are. If you are on a nature reserve or protected land, then you could report the clutch of eggs to the local wildlife authorities.
However, if you come across a clutch of eggs where they should not be, for example, in your backyard or an area of high traffic, you should call in your local animal rescue so that they can relocate the eggs to a safer place.
Most venomous species of snake in North America give birth to live young, so the chance of the eggs hatching out to snakes that can harm you is small.
Upon stumbling across a clutch of whitish eggs on the ground that are most definitely not bird eggs, you may want to pick them up, study them, watch them progress and hatch, report them to authorities, or leave them alone.
Regardless of what choice is most appropriate for the eggs you’ve found, you now know how to tell the differences between turtle eggs vs snake eggs!
Good luck on your identification journey! Remember to always be respectful and careful when dealing with these eggs, as they are delicate and hold precious reptile babies inside!