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Differentiating Male and Female Staurotypus salvinii  (Pacific Coast Giant Musk Turtle)  - Sharon Chancellor MT


Related pages:

Claudius and Staurotypus Gallery

An original World Chelonian Trust care sheet is currently under development. 


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This is a fairly rare species that is only found few private collections in the United States.  Often referred to as "similar to" a Snapping turtle (Chelydra)  or as a Big-headed turtle (Platysternon) "wannabe"  they are delightful species in their own right. 


This highly carnivorous species is found in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize. Large adults of both sexes are about the same size, reaching  7 - 8 inches (17 - 20 cm) in length.  From above, at first glance, the sexes appear very similar. Upon closer examination it becomes very easy to determine the sex of  Giant Musk Turtles, especially if a pair is available for cross comparison.   There are three means of determining the sex of this species.  


Pictured below are a pair of adult Staurotypus salvinii.  The male is on the left while the female is on the right.  Note that the head of the male is larger in comparison to the size of the animal than that of the  the female on the right.



In the anterior picture below, the male is on the right  Note his much larger tail  as compared to the female on the left. 



In the pictures below, note the large thick tail in the male on the left and the short stubby tail in the female on the right. 



Notice the position of the cloaca opening.  The cloacal opening of the male turtle on the left  is lower on the tail, past the end of the carapace. The cloacal opening of the female Staurotypus salvinii on the right is much closer to the base of the tail. 


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