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Differentiating Male and Female Testudo horsfieldii (Russian tortoise) - Chris Tabaka DVM

Copyright © 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved

While sexing Russian tortoises is relatively straightforward, the following pictures will help you identify which sex you have. 


Please also see the excellent original care sheet by Darrell Senneke and Chris Tabaka DVM, WCT trustees, on this species at:  Testudo (Agrionemys) horsfieldii - Russian Tortoises  - Darrell Senneke and Chris Tabaka DVM (


During the mating process the male Testudo horsfieldii must reach his tail in under the female to make sexual contact. The physical adaptations necessary to be able to successfully do this result in the method by which we use to determine the sex of the animal. This is clearly shown in the paired photographs below. 



The easiest way to sex this species is by the length of the tail.  The animal below at left is a male.  Contrast it with the female on the right.   As you can see, the tail is not only long but also held to the side and extends past the caudal edge of the anal scute.   

Male Testudo horsfieldii

Female Testudo horsfieldii


As can be seen in the close-up below, the female's tail (on the right) is much shorter in length and is not held out to the side like the male's.

Male Testudo horsfieldii

Female Testudo horsfieldii


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