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How To Properly Sex Your Tortoise

The sexing of tortoises can be very difficult to the new tortoise keeper. When determining the sex, there is a lot of different characteristics  that needs to be taken into consideration. With over forty or so species of tortoise and many racial variants that take the number to eighty plus living varieties all characteristics need to be utilized to make a proper decision. Some individual specimens may have some but not all traits. Age and maturity is another factor that needs to be taken into consideration.

Males-

1) Plastron - The most common factor in male tortoises are that their plastrons (bellies) are concaved.  This 'concave provides the male stability when mounting the female.

2) Tail - Male tortoises tails are typically twice the length of females. On the average the males tail will reach their back thigh or hip.

3) Gular Scutes-  On the plastron there are typically two gular scutes at the front. The males gulars are normally alot more pronounced then female as maturity sets in. Males gular scutes are mainly used for protection and battling other males for courtship rights.

4) Anal Scutes/ Anal opening- On the plastron there is two anal scutes at the rear end of the tortoise. These anal scutes on male tortoises typically have a bow or "v" shaped opening. The males anal opening appears to be more pinched together then female specimens

5) Shell design/size - This is a characteristic that can help, but is not always true in some species of tortoise. Males and female shells design or shape will slightly differ. For example male Desert Tortoises are more oblong as to where females are more pear shaped. The males also grow larger then the females in this species.

Females-

1) Plastron - Female tortoises plastron or bellies are typically smooth or flat. They might have a very slight indent but over all are perfectly flat across the length of the plastron.

2) Tail -  Tortoise's tails that are female are notably shorter then males. It almost looks like a short stump. The tail typically does not extend past the anal scutes.

3) Gular scutes - Female gular scutes are not pronounced like the males. They stay short and do not extend much from the plastron.

4) Anal Scutes/ Anal Opening - Again on the plastron there is two anal scutes at the rear end of the tortoise. These anal scutes on female tortoises typically have a "U" shaped opening. The females anal opening are an egg shaped opening and not pinched together.

5) Shell design - This is a characteristic that can help, but is not always true in some species of tortoise. Males and female shells design or shape will slightly differ. For example female Leopard Tortoises grow much larger then males of that species.