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Turtle Sexing - Male Or Female


Telling apart a Male from a Female can be pretty hard if the turtle is at a young stage, but easier as the turtle grows older into juveniles and adults. It doesn't really rely on age, but rather by size. This features will be easily visible on turtles of 4" or larger, depending on over all average size of your species of turtle. Note: This Male/Female information can be applied to sliders and other turtles of similar race. Not all turtles will display these features.

First off, the male turtle usually tends to have a concave plastron (bottom shell). The reason for this is because he has to stay on the female's carapace (upper shell) to breed. It would be rather hard to do this task if the shell was flat. He would be slipping and falling off of her. Another attribute the male has is a much longer and thicker shell, then that of the female. The anal hole is also usually past the carapacial rim (end of shell). He must slide his tail under hers to copulate. On some species, longer foreclaws are prevelant. .

male claws Some species that have them are Painted, Sliders, Cooters, and Map turtles. These claws are used in some sort of breeding ritual. The male will show the appearance of caressing the females cheeks. Of course they have more purposes than just breeding. They are used in showing dominance to another turtle, stating "This is my territory, I'm telling you to stay out of it," or just a simple "Hi, how are you doing?" Coloration in some species is also an indicator of sex. In male Box turtles, the male tends to have red eyes. In Spotted turtles, males have tan chins and brown eyes.

There are also ways to tell if your turtle is a female. The first of course is to look at the plastron, females are flat or slightly convex. The reasoning behind this is because, she has to hold the eggs, and she wouldn't have enough room to do so if she was like the male and it was concave. The tail of a female is short and the anal opening is before the carapacial rim. In most species of turtle, the female's front claws are short, they do not have to show breeding rituals because the female doesn't have to convince the male who she is. The one that says who breeds is the female. Coloration is also an indicator in this gender as well. Female Box turtles usually have brown eyes.

Male turtles also will have their reproductive organs come out of their opening on the tail . This is commonly known as prolapse. This condition is perfectly normal, and is most often confused with an organ prolapse. It doesn't hurt much, but it is very annoying. It's a normal occurrence and we don't know why it happens. Make sure you watch your turtle so it
goes back in. If this happens a lot, it may cause distress. You might need the help of a veterinarian. If your turtle is on dry land when this happens, put us in luke warm water to help keep it moist. Occasionally, the erect reproductive organ remains fully engorged and cannot be retracted. This condition is called paraphimosis. Veterinary intervention is necessary in these cases to prevent permanent damage to the reproductive organ.

Those are the easiest and most basic ways to tell if you have a male or female turtle. Almost all species follow these rules, but not all. Some female Box turtles have red eyes, while some males have brown eyes. Some male specimens have shown a short tail. The above is what the majority show. Baby turtles do not usually display these characteristics until they mature.

male organThis is the males reproductive organ starting to come out.

male organsThis is when people panic as they can't believe the size the organ is. This condition is perfectly normal. It should go back in within a few minutes. The problem comes when it doesn't go in and then it is time to take your turtle to a Vet.


If you don't know the sexing of your turtle, ask us at our Forum.

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Site Created: 1/8/2002, Last modified: 12/7/2003 by Petra Grujic