A male tortoise is neutered by a phallectomy, removal of the penis. The penis is used only for breeding and not for elimination of waste. However, this does not remove the hormonal need to breed, so a male will continue to mount the female without fertilizing her eggs.
Spaying of the female tortoise is a more complicated procedure than neutering the male. However, a method has been developed to remove the female’s ovaries through the leg area, rather than the shell. This was the method tested last year on many females at the sterilization clinic.
In addition to removing the ability to produce eggs and, therefore, more unwanted babies, the removal of the ovaries also eliminates the potential of egg binding in the female, which is a life-threatening condition. Spaying must be timed carefully with egg production.
Each tortoise must be evaluated on its suitability for surgery based on many factors. Tortoise surgery must be scheduled so that there is plenty of healing time before fall brumation.