Biologists from James Cook University have resorted to using vibrators to identify the gender of turtles. Usually, you can identify male from female in species due to their physical attributes, different shell size and colouring but for some species, it’s almost impossible to tell one sex from the other without looking at the genitalia.
PhD candidate from James Cook University, Donald Mcknight has come up with a less intrusive way of pulling out a turtle penis, by using a vibrating sex toy to stimulate the bottom of the turtle’s shell and tail. Like other reptiles, amphibians and birds, turtles genitalia is hidden inside their cloaca. A male’s penis is only visible when it's erect. To determine whether a turtle is either female or male, stimulation is required. If an erect penis appears, you’ve got yourself a male turtle.
“It is a trial-and-error process when working with a species for the first time. The turtles respond visibly to the vibrator, so if you are in an area or doing something that they don't like, they will tense up and hold their limbs and tail tightly against the body.”
According to McKnight, the arousal technique was effective 100 percent of the time for the softshell turtle.
One of them was showing his penis in like 4 seconds.
Though the method seems a little odd, the new technique will cut down a lot of time and effort. Determining the sex of the turtle is important for surveying and conservation efforts.
It is cheaper, easier to implement in the field, and less invasive than many of the alternative techniques, and it has already proved useful in our own research.
Header: Western Patterned Turtle, Wikimedia Commons