Box turtles have their sex organs inside their shells, therefore it is difficult to determine the sex of a box turtle. Other secondary sex characteristics must be used. I've listed many of these secondary chracteristics here for you to use to help determine the sex of your box turtle.

The pictures posted on this webpage are either from Roger Louie or Jeff Dawson. I thank both for permission to use their photographs.

Sex determination for Terrapene carolina.

The first thing to look at is the overall body coloration. Males of Eastern box turtles usually have more colorful heads and legs. They have more red, or orange and white and black on their face and neck. Compare these two pictures of a male and female Three-toed box turtles. The eyes of mature males are usually red or reddish, whereas the female's eyes are usually deep brown.

The plastron of many males have a slight concave area, or a depression that allows them to mount the females more easy. However, many males do not have this depression. Here is a picture of the plastron of a male Three-toed (T. c. triungus) box turtle.
A female does not have a concave plastron. It will be flat.

The back claws of male and femal Eastern box turtles are different. A males back toe are thicker and curve markedly, like small talons. The female back toes are thinner and straighter. You can see the differences in these pictures of the back foot of the Common Eastern box turtle (T. c. carolina).

The tails of male Eastern and Western box turtles are thick at the base where it joins the body. The tail is long and the anus is placed further down the length of the tail than the female's. Here is a picture of the tail of a male Three-toed (T. c. triungus) box turtle. Notice the anus is beyond the edge of the shell. A female's tail is shorter and the anus is usually placed close to the body, within the the edge of the shell.

Sex determination for Terrapene ornata, the Western box turtle.

As in the case with male Eastern box turtles, the male Ornate box turtle usually has a different body coloration than the female. The heads of mature males are usually some shade of green and their legs have bright orange or red scales. The females have brown heads and their legs have yellow scales. The eyes of male are red and the females are brown.

Male Ornate box turtle on the left. Female Ornate on the right.

For more specifics on sex determination of Eastern and Western box turtles, go HERE.

Go to next chapter, Breeding Your Box Turtles.

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Disclaimer: Please use all information contained on this web site at your own risk. Last updated on December 28, 2013 .