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Sexing a Painted Turtle

painted turtle 035If you see a Painted Turtle on land at this time of year, chances are great that it’s a female on her way to or from laying her eggs. But how do you know the sex of a Painted Turtle at any other time of year? It helps to have both sexes in front of you, as it’s all relative, but in general, males have much longer nails on their front feet than females (good for gripping females during mating). Males also have longer and thicker tails. The cloaca (passageway into which the intestinal, urinary, and genital tracts open) of a male Painted Turtle is close to the tip of the tail, whereas the female’s cloaca is near the base of the tail. A super large Painted Turtle (8”-10”) is more likely to be a female, as their shells can grow to a larger dimension than those of males. (photo: female Painted Turtle)

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8 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    I’ve heard (and seen) that in many turtles, the male’s plastron (underside) is much more concave than the female’s, also to facilitate mating. Is this true of painted turtles?

    June 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

    • Hi Kathie,
      Yes, it is true that a male turtle’s plastron is usually more concave than a female’s, but the degree really varies with the species. For instance, a male wood turtle’s plastron is noticeably more concave than a female’s, and is a reliable characteristic for determining its sex, whereas with painted, the male’s plastron is usually only slightly more concave, not, in my consideration, different enough to be included as a major difference, which is why I didn’t mention it.

      June 20, 2014 at 8:49 pm

  2. Cindy Sprague

    Good info Mary. You could also mention that the male as a concave plastron. I really enjoy all your blogs – keep up the good work.

    June 20, 2014 at 11:51 am

    • You’re right, Cindy. See my reply to Kathie for an explanation of why I didn’t mention it!

      June 20, 2014 at 8:49 pm

  3. sassy55

    hi mary have you seen alfred? it’s going to be a hard weekend. i hope john heeds the warning about what he eats. many years ago, i saw a male painted stroking the face of a female with its long white claws glistening. i think it was in march and there was still some ice in places. how are you?

    June 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm

  4. What a sweet little face:) Beautiful colors ad great photograph.

    June 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm

  5. thomas nevins

    well I didn’t know how to send you some photos you might like a gaggle of lunas taken yesterday am at winhall campground winhall (south londonderry area) vt on ladies room door

    June 21, 2014 at 12:43 pm

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