Can female leopard tortoises "pose" as male tortoises?

TanknDozer

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Can a female tortoise pose as a male tortoise if in a group of only females? I have two 11-year old leopard tortoises that everyone says are both female in a previous posting of mine (with photos attached) but one of them has always displayed male-like behavior by following and mounting the other one in spring/summer months. Here are photos from 2017 and 2020 of the lighter colored one mounting the darker colored tortoise. Attached are also photos of their tails, first photo being the darker tortoise which is getting mounted, second photo of tails is the lighter colored tortoise doing the mounting. The one getting mounted has also laid eggs and the other one has not (that I've seen, they are outside most of the year).

Also please note-I've read leopard tortoises are hard to sex by just the tail and people tend to look at the shape of the shell..the females looks like more V-shaped near the tail opening, and the one i believe is male is more U-shaped near the tail opening. Also, the lines on the V-shaped shell lead to the center line down the belly, while on the U-shaped shell the lines do not go to the middle line of the belly..if that makes any sense.. I was pretty certain I had a male and female pair before everyone said they are both female, so I am looking for an experienced tortoise lovers advice! Thanks in advance for any help!
 

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Neal

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The pictures both look female.

I've seen this behavior by female leopard tortoises. I would say it's not common, but not unusual. I have only seen this in a situation where there has not been a male tortoise present.
 

zovick

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Can a female tortoise pose as a male tortoise if in a group of only females? I have two 11-year old leopard tortoises that everyone says are both female in a previous posting of mine (with photos attached) but one of them has always displayed male-like behavior by following and mounting the other one in spring/summer months. Here are photos from 2017 and 2020 of the lighter colored one mounting the darker colored tortoise. Attached are also photos of their tails, first photo being the darker tortoise which is getting mounted, second photo of tails is the lighter colored tortoise doing the mounting. The one getting mounted has also laid eggs and the other one has not (that I've seen, they are outside most of the year).

Also please note-I've read leopard tortoises are hard to sex by just the tail and people tend to look at the shape of the shell..the females looks like more V-shaped near the tail opening, and the one i believe is male is more U-shaped near the tail opening. Also, the lines on the V-shaped shell lead to the center line down the belly, while on the U-shaped shell the lines do not go to the middle line of the belly..if that makes any sense.. I was pretty certain I had a male and female pair before everyone said they are both female, so I am looking for an experienced tortoise lovers advice! Thanks in advance for any help!
Both of those tortoises are females. What you are observing is the one female attempting to "dominate" the other one by mounting and perhaps even pursuing and ramming her at times.

Here are three photos showing a mature male (on left) and female (on right) Burmese Star Tortoise. Note the wide separation of the tips of the anal scutes on the male and that the tips point out to the sides while the anal scute tips of the female are much closer together and point straight back.

Also note that the supracaudal scute of the male curves inward toward the tail area while the supracaudal scute of the female is curved gently outwards from the tail. The male also has a longer and thicker tail than the female.

All of the above characteristics are true of Leopard Tortoises as well as Burmese Star (and many other) Tortoises.

Platynota Comp 3.JPG Platynota Comp 1.JPG Platynota Comp 2.JPG
 

Markw84

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Also please note-I've read leopard tortoises are hard to sex by just the tail and people tend to look at the shape of the shell..the females looks like more V-shaped near the tail opening, and the one i believe is male is more U-shaped near the tail opening.

You have it backwards in reference to that anal scute rear edge - females have a "U" shaped, rounder opening - perfect for depositing eggs. Males have a "v" shaped, that actually widens and flattens a bit with the tips pointing outward. @zovick explained and illustrated it perfectly. The supracaudal is the very last, back scute of the carapace that covers the tail area. The curving inward zovick describes actually gives a male tortoise a way to sit on the back edge of his shell, protecting the tail area, and still have an opening for access to the female while in the vertical, mounting position.

You will see mounting behavior by females commonly when kept in groups.
 

Tom

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Can a female tortoise pose as a male tortoise if in a group of only females? I have two 11-year old leopard tortoises that everyone says are both female in a previous posting of mine (with photos attached) but one of them has always displayed male-like behavior by following and mounting the other one in spring/summer months. Here are photos from 2017 and 2020 of the lighter colored one mounting the darker colored tortoise. Attached are also photos of their tails, first photo being the darker tortoise which is getting mounted, second photo of tails is the lighter colored tortoise doing the mounting. The one getting mounted has also laid eggs and the other one has not (that I've seen, they are outside most of the year).

Also please note-I've read leopard tortoises are hard to sex by just the tail and people tend to look at the shape of the shell..the females looks like more V-shaped near the tail opening, and the one i believe is male is more U-shaped near the tail opening. Also, the lines on the V-shaped shell lead to the center line down the belly, while on the U-shaped shell the lines do not go to the middle line of the belly..if that makes any sense.. I was pretty certain I had a male and female pair before everyone said they are both female, so I am looking for an experienced tortoise lovers advice! Thanks in advance for any help!
Can a female tortoise pose as a male tortoise if in a group of only females? I have two 11-year old leopard tortoises that everyone says are both female in a previous posting of mine (with photos attached) but one of them has always displayed male-like behavior by following and mounting the other one in spring/summer months. Here are photos from 2017 and 2020 of the lighter colored one mounting the darker colored tortoise. Attached are also photos of their tails, first photo being the darker tortoise which is getting mounted, second photo of tails is the lighter colored tortoise doing the mounting. The one getting mounted has also laid eggs and the other one has not (that I've seen, they are outside most of the year).

Also please note-I've read leopard tortoises are hard to sex by just the tail and people tend to look at the shape of the shell..the females looks like more V-shaped near the tail opening, and the one i believe is male is more U-shaped near the tail opening. Also, the lines on the V-shaped shell lead to the center line down the belly, while on the U-shaped shell the lines do not go to the middle line of the belly..if that makes any sense.. I was pretty certain I had a male and female pair before everyone said they are both female, so I am looking for an experienced tortoise lovers advice! Thanks in advance for any help!
I agree both female. What you are seeing is one of the many reasons we say not to keep them in pairs. They need to be separated.. Tortoises should never live in pairs. Sexes don't matter. The subordinate one is living in constant fear and constant stress, and the dominant one is also stressed by constantly drive to drive the other tortoise out of its territory. Neither can relax ever. Even if they were male and female, they should not be living as a pair.
 
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