Turtles & TortoisesTurtle Identification

How to Identify the Male and Female Slider and Sea Turtles?

The gender of most amniote reptiles is determined by the ground temperature in which their eggs incubate. Therefore, a breeder can manipulate the incubation temperature of eggs to cause developing embryos to become males or females. The other way of knowing is to wait three to five years before seeing the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Once slider turtles mature, their tails and toenails provide proper identification of gender. The shell shape and its size may also offer clues as well.

The sea turtles, on the other hand, have seven known species that can live for an astonishing 80 years. Sea turtles live mostly in the sea but venture to dry land to have their babies. Both sexes can be seen tending to them. Males and female sea turtles are often the same, which makes it difficult to tell them apart.


Slider Turtles

If you want to undergo an expensive and invasive procedure, you can ask a veterinarian to perform an endoscopy of a turtle’s cloaca. By doing this, you don’t need to wait for other characteristics to appear and positively identify its gender.

Male slider turtles have thicker, and longer tails than females do. The vents of males are located closer to the tips of the tail than they are in females. The Male’s vent is outside their shell’s edges while the female’s vent is located inside the shell’s margins.

When compared to females, male slider turtles have longer toenails. A courting male toenail uses its toenails to tickle and stimulate female faces. A young female slider exhibits this behavior at times, so the act is not really indicative of gender. But if the female responds to the male’s advances, a male will use the fingernails to cling to the female’s shell. 

Though size may not give a definite indication of the turtle’s gender, it can still provide a clue. Slider turtles females mature at a greater size than males. While male slider turtles mature at about 4 inches in plastron length, females mature at 5 to 7 inches. Eventually, males may attain 8 inches, but the largest sliders are usually female. Large female sliders may exceed 13 inches in plastron length.

Shell shape may exhibit the gender as older males have concave plastrons. Scientists believe that this adaptation provides males with more stability during mating. This is because the concave surface fits well with the convex surface of the female’s carapace.

Sea Turtles

When you look at the front flippers of sea turtles, you can see that they have long and curved claws. Scientists suggest that claws may exist to them so they can grasp the female’s shell during mating.

Observing the sea turtle’s tail may also give a clue. Sexually mature male turtles develop a longer tail, which houses the sexual organ. However, sexual maturation may occur at different stages for different species, which may make identifying a male from a female difficult.

The last way to learn the sea turtle’s gender is to watch them during the warmest part of the year. Female sea turtles are the ones to lay the eggs, though even males are also watching over them.

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