African Sideneck Turtle – Male or Female?

There are few reptiles out there that can actually be considered adorable.

Snakes and komodo dragons aren’t known for their cuddliness.

Alligators aren’t the type of creature you want to put your arms around unless you’ve entered a very stupid, drunken contest.

Lizards are best described as “weird-looking.”

But there’s no denying the adorableness of the African Sideneck Turtle.

Googling images of such animals should be mandated to help cope with depression, right along with the shots of the white tiger cub that became friends with a chimpanzee.

But oddly, they’re one of the hardest animals to identify by gender. 

There’s something sweet about it’s dopey, sideways smile that can bring joy to your heart, but you’ll probably still be wondering whether or not to call it “her” or “him”. 

Most turtles are actually hard to identify.

In this blog, we’ll go over the various ways to tell if an African Sideneck Turtle is male or female and also go over some of their more charming attributes. 

How To Tell If a Turtle Is Male Or Female

There are many different ways of identifying a turtle’s gender.

First, you should:

  • Examine The Shell

The shell, also known as the carapace, has some distinct differences in males and females. A female’s shell is a little larger than a male’s. But this is not always an accurate marker.

First, you have to wait until the turtle is fully grown before you can determine their gender using this method.

And that’s going to make for some awkward birthdays.

You may just assume you have a male turtle because their shell is slightly smaller, but it may still have some growing left to do. 

Second, there is a certain amount of overlap in shell size, so it’s not always the most accurate way of identifying your turtle’s gender. 

  • Examine The Plastron

A turtle’s plastron is the underside of its shell. In other words, have a look at your turtle’s belly.

To do this, you’re going to need to pick up your friend and turn them over with care.

Turtle’s aren’t exactly fans of this position, so be sure to hold it from the tail end so it is unable to snap at you. Also, try to be brief, they’re already annoyed. 

Male turtles have a plastron that curves inward.

A female’s plastron is straight. The reason for both of these has to do with procreation.

The concave on the male is to make mating easier, while the flatness of the female’s plastron gives her the internal space she needs to grow eggs. 

  • Look for a Tail Notch

Male turtles tend to have a little notch, or a “V” shape at the rear of the shell.

This is another feature of the male turtle intended for procreation, as the tail would otherwise risk being crushed during mating.

Females will noticeably lack this notch. 

  • Examine Species-Specific Telltale Signs

Certain species of turtle have some features on their males and females that are very distinct. 

Most male American Box Turtles (90 percent),  for instance, have red or orange irises. 

African Sideneck Turtles grow anywhere from 7 to 12 inches in length, but males are always a little smaller than females.

Male sidenecks typically only get to ten inches. 

  • Examine the Claws

A male turtle’s claws are particularly important to him. They use them to defend themselves from predators and also during mating.

As a result, a male’s claws are always bigger than a females. 

This is particularly obvious is red eared sliders, whose claws on males are much larger than females. 

  • Examine The Cloaca

Both male and female turtles have a small vent or opening on the bottom side of their tails. This is known as the cloaca, and has noticeable differences. 

First, the female’s cloaca is round or star shaped, much more pronounced than the male’s. It’s also closer to her body, almost looking as though it disappears into the shell. 

The male cloaca is simple, more like a long slit. 

  • Examine the Tail Size

A male turtle’s genitalia is located within its tail. Because of this, his tail is going to be thicker and larger than a female’s.

Female tails are short and thin. Again, this more a general rule, and not necessarily the most accurate way of determining your turtle’s gender. 

  • When In Doubt, Add Up The Clues

There are some turtles that are going to be harder to identify by gender than others.

Every turtle is different, and every species has their own quirks. The best way to determine a turtle’s gender, if you’re still unsure, is to take all of these clues and put them together.

Perhaps not all fit, but the more that do line up mean you’re more likely to find out you’re correct. 

Referneces

African Sideneck Turtle: Species Profile – The Sprucepets

How To Sex A Red-Eared Slider Turtle: 5 Easy Gender Differences – Everythingreptiles

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