3 Easy Ways to Tell the Sex of a Turtle

3 Easy Ways to Tell the Sex of a Turtle

There are many different species of turtles that make great pets. If you own a turtle or are planning to buy one soon; you will want to know the sex of your turtle. This comes in handy when you want to keep more than one turtle in the same tank. You won’t want to keep a male and female turtle in the same aquarium unless you are planning to breed them. This is also important when you keep two or more turtles in the same tank. You won’t want to have two males in the same tank as they can become aggressive and territorial.

Sexing or telling the sex of your turtle can be hard when they are very young. If you plan to purchase a baby turtle; it is best to buy directly from a reputable breeder. The breeder that hatched them should be able to tell you the sex of your turtle. Especially if they were hatched in a controlled temperature environment.

During incubation, the temperature determines whether the embryo will mature as a male or female. Males tend to develop in cooler temperatures while females develop in warm hatching environments. If you have an older turtle or plan to purchase an older turtle, it is easier to tell the male from the female without needing to know their incubation temperatures. For instance, red-eared sliders (one of the more popular pet species), have a very distinct difference in both their size and appearance. You can use these easy ways to learn how to tell the sex of a turtle:

3 Easy Ways to Tell the Sex of a Turtle

1. Shell Shape and Size

 Most turtles can easily be identified as male or female, once they have reached sexual maturity. Female red-eared sliders reach sexual maturity once they grow to about five or six inches in length. Males mature faster and reach sexual maturity when they reach four inches in length. It will take a female approximately five to seven years to mature and about two to five years for a male to fully mature.

There are other species of turtles, including box turtles, sea turtles and many others that are sexually dimorphic. This will help you easily be able to spot the difference in the size of the shell. However, in order to accurately use shell size to determine the sex of your turtle, you have to know their age. If you are unsure of your turtle’s age, you can use the shape of their shell to sex your turtle.

The plastron is the bottom or belly of your turtle’s shell. There is a significant difference between a male and female, and it can be easily spotted. A female turtle will have a flat chest or plastron. Male turtles have a curved in plastron that almost looks like defined pectoral muscles on a man. This concave appearance allows male turtles to mount a female turtle easily and gives females plenty of extra room to carry their eggs.  

3 Easy Ways to Tell the Sex of a Turtle

2. Claw Length

 When you take a closer look at your turtle’s claws, you will either see a short set of claws or drastically longer claws. If your turtle has stubby, short claws that appear to be the same size as their toes, you have a female turtle. If you notice that your turtle has much longer claws you can safely say it’s a male. Naturally male turtles have longer claws than their female counterpart. They use their long claws during mating to grab hold of the female’s top shell. 

3 Easy Ways to Tell the Sex of a Turtle

3. Tail Length

 One of the more common ways to sex your turtle is to look at the tail. You can easily tell the sex of your turtle by examining their tail. A female turtle will have a very short and skinny tail. Male turtles have just the opposite. A male will have a thick long tail, and if you take a closer look, you will notice that their vent is located towards the end of the tail. However, a female turtle’s vent is positioned closer to the body. 

 If you are having trouble telling the difference or are unsure about the sex of your turtle, you can always take a trip to the vet. Your local veterinarian will be able to confirm the sex of your turtle and may also be able to tell the age of your turtle. Your veterinarian can also give you some pointers on proper diet, habitat and more. Keep in mind that some veterinarians will charge an office call or exam fee just to look at your turtle.