How To Identify Map Turtle Gender?

how to take care of map turtle in captivity

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Don’t you think it is high time you checked the gender of your pet map turtle? Revealing the gender of the pet gives you many opportunities. You can house them accordingly, and also you can choose a perfect pair for breeding.

There are many methods, which can help you identify the gender of a map turtle. The most natural methods are by comparing the size, carapace structure, tail length, etc.

I have always heard that it takes a professional observation to determine a map turtle’s gender. But in this article, I will discuss how you can identify your map turtle’s sex even if you are a beginner. Try to follow the whole article to have a clear concept.

Turtle Gender Identification Chart

turtle gender identification

For a printable version of this amazing visual chart, click here!

Methods Of Identifying A Map Turtle’s Gender

Size Method

We know that map turtles exhibit sexual dimorphism in size. It means there is a visual and noticeable difference between the genders. For most species, the male turtles are bigger than the female ones, but it is opposite for the map turtle species. In this case, the female map turtles are larger than the male map turtles.

Here is the size chart of different map turtle species at their adult age. You can compare the size difference by yourself.

Map turtle speciesSize of the female speciesSize of the male species
Mississippi map turtle6 to 10 inches3.5 to 5 inches
Northern map turtle7.1 to 10.6 inches3.9 to 6.3 inches
Sabine map turtle5 to 10.75 inches3.5 to 5.75 inches
False map turtle10.5 inches6 inches
Ouachita map turtle10 inches5 inches
Cagle’s map turtle5.5 to 8 inches3.5 to 5 inches
Barbour’s map turtle12.5 inches5.5 inches
Black Knobbed map turtle4 to 8 inches3 to 4 inches
Pascagoula map turtle5.5 to 11.5 inches3.5 to 5 inches
Ringed map turtle7 inches4 inches
Escambia map turtle11 inches5 inches
Alabama map turtle5.5 to 11.5 inches3.5 to 5 inches
Texas map turtle5 to 8 inches2.5 to 4 inches
Yellow blotched map turtle5 to 7.5 inches3.5 to 4.5 inches

From the chart, you can see that the female map turtles are larger than the male ones at the same age. You can determine the gender of your pet map turtle by comparing the size mentioned in the chart. But for that, you must have more than one map turtle.

Compare The Carapace

There is a slight difference in the carapace or the shell between the male and female map turtles. For the adult male map turtle, the carapace is oval and more keeled. And for the female map turtle, the shell is more rounded.

You can determine the gender of your pet map turtle by comparing the shape of its carapace.

Compare The Plastron

The plastron is the underside of the shell of the map turtle, or you can call it the belly of the pet. Though the plastron of the map turtles is less hingeless than the box turtles, you can determine its gender by observing it closely.

Generally, the plastron of a male map turtle is more concave, whereas the plastron of the female one’s is flat. The hinged plastron allows the males to mount over the female partners during the mating process. And the flat plastron allows the female map turtles to keep more eggs inside it.

Check The Notch Of The Tail

The position of the vent is different for the male and female map turtles. For the male map turtles, the vent opens beyond the rear edge of the carapace. And for the female map turtles, the vent opens up to the upper shell.

You can identify the gender of your pet turtle by looking at its vent.

Observe The Map Turtle’s Head

If you look at your map turtles closely, you will notice that there are differences between the head of a male and female map turtle. The male map turtles have a blunt face and a narrower head. Their eyes are yellow with a horizontal line through the pupil.

The female map turtles have a larger and broader head. They have yellow eyes with a triangular spot behind the pupil.

Examine The Front Claws Of The Map Turtle

Generally, the front nails of the male turtle of any species are longer than the female ones. It is because the male turtles use those claws during mating, and also they fight using them. There is no exception for the map turtles.

The front claws of the male map turtles are longer the female map turtles.  You can identify the gender of your map turtles by comparing the size of the front claws.

Compare The Size Of The Tails

The size of the tail can help you determine the gender of the map turtle. Generally, the tail of a male map turtle is longer and thicker. On the other hand, the tail of a female map turtle is shorter and thinner.

The male map turtle’s tail is longer because its genitalia is located within the tail.

How To Come To A Conclusion

I have explained 7 methods by which you can determine the gender of your pet map turtle. Before declaring the determination, I recommend you consider at least two or three methods. In that way, the result will be accurate. Never decide anything based on a single observation.

Again, if you are comparing, you must have more than one map turtle of the same species around the same age. Otherwise, the result may not be accurate. As map turtles show sex dimorphisms in size, it gives us a considerable advantage while determining their gender.

When Is The Perfect Time To Discover A Map Turtle’s Gender?

I always suggest waiting for at least 2 to 3 months to identify the pet map turtle’s gender. When you decide the gender of a hatchling, sometimes the observation can go wrong. So, make sure the map turtle is not a baby while identifying its gender.

Does Incubation Temperature Affect The Gender Of A Map Turtle?

Like all other reptiles, it is valid for the map turtles too. Different studies have shown that a considerably high temperature produces female map turtles and low temperature produces male map turtles.

A temperature around 75 degrees Fahrenheit can yield male map turtles, and around 85 degrees temperature can yield female map turtles.


It is tricky to determine a map turtle’s gender as it does not have any external genitalia. But I have explained different ways to distinguish the sex of your map turtle accurately. I hope you guys will face no trouble to identify the gender of your map turtle anymore. Thank you for reading the whole article.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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