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In which John Green discusses the mating habits and sexual reproduction of giant tortoises.


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A Bunny
( - -)
((') (')
Good morning Hank.

It's Monday. This week we're gonna be learning about the mating habits of -oh come on. Don't do that in front of the children.

Okay Hank so, tortoises are majestic reptiles. They can live to be more than 200 years old. [tortoise in coitus in background which sounds vaguely like a distorted recording of a cat being thrown into a blender] What is that noise? [tortoise in coitus] Really, that's an actual recording of a tortoise in coitus? BLEGHADAS.

Hold on, I gotta call Tommy Lee Jones. Hi Tommy Lee, it's me John Green. I'm gonna need that magic wand you used in the film Men in Black 'cause I need to un-remember something. [tortoise in coitus] Oh God, Tommy Lee it's happening again.

So Hank, I present to you the majestic, giant tor- [tortoise in coitus] ahhhh come on! Alright Hank, so there are a few things you need to understand about tortoises in order to understand their sexuality. One: Tortoises often don't hit sexual maturity until they're like 20 years old.

Two: An average adult male tortoise weighs 200 pounds more than females. And number three: tortoises have a lot in common with the male characters on the television phenomenon Jersey Shore. They don't have jobs, they're huge without being technically overweight, and for both species the primary method of flirting involves head-bobbing.

Okay, so whether the male tortoise is considered hot is decided mostly by the length of his neck. I mean you know what they say about tortoises with longs necks. So, the male tortoises will be hanging out and they'll be like "Look, my neck is so long," and the other tortoise will be like "My neck is even longer," and whoever has the longest neck generally gets the most desirable mating situations.

Okay, so you're a long-necked tortoise and you start to approach your lady friend. Then begins the head-bobbing. The male tortoise walks up to the female tortoise and bobs his head like crazy in an attempt to, I don't know, look turtle sexy.

At this point one of a few things might happen. It might be that your lady friend just allows you to mount her. Now of course a lot of people are wondering about the actual mechanics of tortoise sex.

This is pretty straight forward. The underside of the male shell, which is called the plastron, is conveniently enough concave. So the shells actually fit pretty well together.

Yeah, I don't blame you at all from walking away from that, little turtle. The male tortoise balances like a three-legged stool on his hind feet and his tail and then, you know, [tortoise in coitus] Ah not the noise again. Hank, you want to know the worst thing about this noise?

This noise [tortoise in coitus] is the only noise tortoises ever make. Like, occasionally they'll, like, make hissing sounds but in terms of really utilizing their vocal chords, just this. [tortoise in coitus] So Hank, that's how it goes when everyone is enthusiastic about mating, but sometimes the lady tortoises say "You know, I don't really want to have someone who weighs 200 pounds more than me hump me." In that situation the male tortoise will walk around to the front of the female and start biting her feet. He does this because eventually she will retract her feet into her shell thereby rendering her immobile so he can run around and you know.

You stay classy giant tortoise. Once insemination occurs the female tortoises lay their eggs in a shallow nest and eight months later, baby tortoises! Who will grow up alone in a terrifying world where this passes for love.

Hank, I can't wait for your song on Wednesday; on Friday we'll be learning about giant squids, not of anger, but of love. By the way Nerdfighters, both this giant squid of anger shirt designed by Nerdfighter Vondell Swain and this DFTBA shirt, which reminds everyone who looks at your chest not to forget to be awesome, are available now at, link in the doobly doo. They're in stock and ship immediately, at least until we run out of them.

Also, please go to and sign up for the Project for Awesome mailing list. The mailing list is one of the main ways we have of organizing so we can descend upon videos about non-profits and bring them to the world. And yes, I know that my glasses are crooked.

My son is 10 months old. He is a glasses monster. Please forgive me.

Hank, I'll see you on Wednesday. By the way Hank, I'm not gonna lie, learning all of this has dramatically affected my relationship with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I mean seriously Donatello, I did not expect you to be a biter of lady feet.