Are Turtles Hermaphrodites?

Typically turtles are born as either male or female.  However there have been a few rare occurrences where some turtles have been born as hermaphrodites.  In biology the word hermaphrodite refers to an organism that possesses reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes.

Many taxonomic groups of animals (mostly invertebrates) do not have separate sexes.  In these groups, hermaphrodotism is considered to be a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which both partners can act as the “male” or “female”.  A great majority of snails and slugs are hermaphrodites.  Hermaphroditism is also found in some species of fish and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates.

Hermaprhodotism occurring in turtles is a very rare occurrence; however it has been reported a few times throughout history.  Usually when this rare occurrence is discovered it is done so during routine laboratory dissections.

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