Sexing Box Turtles
by William Tracy
There are three basic things to look for when determining the sex of a box turtle, and many other turtles for that matter. I have listed and illustrated each one starting with what I feel to be the most reliable to the least reliable. All images below are my personal photographs of my pet eastern box turtles.
The tail - most reliable sex determining feature.

The tail of a male will have the cloaca (butt hole!) positioned farther down the tail located beyond the edge of the plastron and in most cases, beyond the edge of the carapace as well. The tail will also be obviously longer and thick at the base than that of a female.

A female's will usually be much smaller with the cloaca located close to the body.

The Plastron

The plastron of a male is typically indented, some individuals more than others.

The plastron of a female is most often flat.

I believe this is because the female needs the room for eggs, and it makes it easier for the males when mounting a female to have that indentation.

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This is the most obvious, and the first thing anyone notices about a box turtle.

The eyes of a male are usually bright red. Males will also tend to be brightly colored, especially around the head, neck and front legs.

Females will tend to have dark brown to reddish brown eyes, and are usually the drabber sex.

This is the least reliable method of sex determination.
I have seen females with red eyes, and some are quite colorful.

Please feel free to e-mail me any photos of any turtle that you may be having trouble determining the sex. Be sure that the photos feature at least 2 of the above features. Good Luck!

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