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Differentiating Male and Female Chersina angulata (Bowsprit Tortoise) - Chris Tabaka, DVM


Copyright © 2005 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved


One of the quickest tortoises in the world as well as a species that holds the record for sheer numbers of animals per square mile in part of it's range, the angulated tortoise is so named because of the extended gular scute.  A striking and rather colorful species from South Africa, the following pictorial shows how to sex this amazing chelonian.



  The picture below is to give some size reference on these animals.   This pictured animal is the male pictured below.   The fingernail polish is to identify the animal in a group of similarly marked and sized baby star tortoises.   For details on this marking technique, please see the article at  "in Press*" (*article will be posted here after publishing)  





Note the large tail in the male angulated tortoise on the left.  Also note the concavity to the plastron in order to allow for mating.  The tail of the female angulated tortoise is extremely short and stubby which can be appreciated in the animal below on the right side.


Male Chersina angulata

Female Chersina angulata


Again in the 'right side up' tortoise positions below, note the extremely large tail in the male on the left and the stubby tail in the female on the right.



Male Chersina angulata


Female Chersina angulata


Next, note the two animals side by side below.  Again, the tail sizes are quite noticeably different in each.  The female also has a broader appearance/width to allow for ova development than the more slender male (female had transplastronal egg removal surgery done which is why her plastron is scarred- for further information on reproductive problems in chelonia, see the following: Egg Implosion Procedure in a Yellow Foot Tortoise ).  

Lastly, in case you wondered where the name "Bowsprit" came from, note the following sexually dimorphic characteristic.  The gular scute in male Bowsprit tortoises is extremely enlarged to allow for protection as well as a weapon when sparring for dominance.  While the gular in the animal pictured below is deviated to the left, it is notably enlarged!!!  - World Chelonian Trust


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