Rarely seen tortoise courtship caught on video in Georgia. It involves biting

·2 min read

Two infatuated tortoises were caught passionately making out on video in Georgia, and it’s not exactly a pretty thing to see up close.

The video shows the frenzied gopher tortoises biting and pecking at each other, and it’s done at a frantic pace one doesn’t expect from turtles.

It was recorded last week at a state-managed wildlife area, according to the University of Georgia’s Coastal Ecology Lab.

“While we often see courtship behavior on our game cameras, we rarely get to see it in this detail,” excited researchers wrote May 4 on Facebook.

“These two individuals completely ignored us and continued their courtship behavior while we were able to watch. The head bobbing and neck biting is how they say ‘I like you! Let’s do this!’ ... You never know what you are going to get to observe in nature! It is truly a gift!”

All this plays out on the doorstep of a tortoise burrow, which have been known to be more than 40 feet in length, USDA experts say.

One of the two turtles — with GT 452 painted on its back — was captured and marked by researchers a year ago, the lab said. It apparently met its soulmate a quarter-mile from where it was captured, proving love is sometimes just around the corner.

Among the unusual moves on display in the video: Tortoise GT 452 is seen swishing its back legs around in the air.

The gopher tortoise is a species of turtle that can live 100 years, according to Gophertortoise.org. They grow to just over a foot in length and weigh about 29 pounds, with “chiseled looking front feet (flippers) and elephant like hind legs,” the site reports.

“Very little is known about how gopher tortoises find mates in the wild,” Animal Diversity Web says.

“The (courtship) ritual begins with the male walking in circles and bobbing his head. The female tortoise will approach the male, which results in the male bobbing his head more vigorously. Once the female has approached, the male will bite at her legs and shell.”

Copulation follows, though it often requires several attempts, the site says.

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