How to Know Whether a Turtle is Male or Female
In the animal kingdom, male and female animals tend to be different physically, what's called sexual dimorphism. Typically, these differences between the sexes are more significant in mammals, and in some species of birds (like parakeets) than in reptiles, so it's difficult to know whether a turtle is a male or female. At OneHowTo.com we'll give you some hints to help you distinguish between the two.
It's the first thing to notice when determining the sex of a turtle. The plastron is the ventral part of the turtle, in other words, the bottom part of the shell that protects the belly.
In the males, it's more or less concave, to facilitate reproduction, and fits better over the top of the female's shell during mating. While the females' plastrons are flat or convex, depending on the species.
Another factor to consider when finding out whether a turtle is male or female is to calculate the length of the tail. The tail of the male is longer and thicker than that of the female. In addition, certain species of male turtles have a scale at the tip.
Generally, the females are larger than the males, so observing and comparing the difference in size can be decisive in establishing the turtle's sex.
The cloaca opening
The cloaca opening or vent, is the hole located at the base of the tail where the penis enters during mating. Observing this part of the turtle's body will also help to determine the turtle's gender.
If you pick up one of the males and turn it upside down, you can see that the opening is closer to the tip of the tail, while in the females, it's closer to the base of the tail (more towards the body of the turtle), where it hides inside the shell, making it difficult to see.
Water or land turtles
In addition to knowing whether a turtle is male or female, it's important to determine whether the turtle you have at home is a water or a land species. To determine what type it is, notice two basic elements:
- The shell. Depending on the environment where they live, a turtle's shell will have certain characteristics. For example, a water turtle will have a smooth shell because this helps with the displacement of water; while a land turtle will have a rougher, more uneven shell.
- The feet also indicate what type of turtle it is. Water turtles have membranes between their feet, which helps them to swim and which are actually flippers; while land turtles lack these membranes because they don't need them in their natural habitat.
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