What’s the vibrator for? Sexing turtles.


Herpetologists are a pervy bunch (pdf link).

Once a male turtle was captured, we attempted to induce an erection by applying an 18 cm, variable-speed, silver bullet vibrator to its shell and tail. We vibrated turtles for 10 min or until an erection was achieved, and we recorded the amount of time that it took to induce an erection. Trials were scored as “unsuccessful” if an erection had not been induced by the end of the 10-minute trial period. Our preliminary trials indicated that turtles needed to be fairly relaxed and willing to extend their limbs and tails before the method would be effective.

They seem to have been fairly creative in trying to figure out how to give turtles an erection.

…the methods that have been proposed so far appear to be species-specific and have only been applied to common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), whose penis can be everted by gently bouncing a turtle up and down (De Solla et al., 2001; Dustman, 2013), and Cotinga River toadhead turtles (Phrynops tuberosus), whose penis can be everted by immobilizing the neck and limbs (Rodrigues et al., 2014).

There’s also a detailed discussion of technique.

In general, turtles appeared to respond best when only the tip of the vibrator was touching them and when the vibrator had fresh batteries and was set on the fastest setting. Also, they seemed to respond best when the tip was held firmly against them (rather than allowing it to bounce), but not be pressed hard against them. Both allowing it to bounce and pressing it too hard generally resulted in turtles holding their limbs and tail tightly against the body, rather than relaxing. Additionally, it was often useful to move the vibrator around in small, slow, steady circles. As a general rule, we tried to hold the vibrator against the tail whenever possible (including following the tail if the turtle is waving it from side to side), but if this caused the turtle to retract its tail, then we moved the vibrator to a different position until the tail was extended again. Finally, sometimes males only protracted their penises briefly and quickly retracted them, rather than maintaining an erection. Therefore, it was necessary to watch the cloaca closely.

Comments

  1. says

    …Cotinga River toadhead turtles (Phrynops tuberosus), whose penis can be everted by immobilizing the neck and limbs…

    Fifty Shades of Turtle?

  2. militantagnostic says

    And I thought I had made a series of bad career decisions and life choices that have lead me to working part time in a self storage facility. At least I am not fluffing turtles.

  3. Siobhan says

    Somebody had to write this. I’m having difficulty imagining there were no fits of laughter.

  4. hemidactylus says

    Using a vibrator to get a common snapping turtle all hot and bothered? Crazy? Has anyone tried this on an alligator snapping turtle? That would be bold or perhaps disastrous? What happens when these turtles start following you around bumming boner buzzes? Probably as bad an idea as feeding alligators in residential neighborhood ponds?

    Vaguely reminiscent of a South Park episode but perhaps with opposite results:

    “Steve Irwin: That’s the most poisonous snake in this entire region! So what I’m gonna do, is sneak up on him, and jam my thumb in his butthole! Cranky! -jumps on snake- Boy this snake is really pissed! I’m gonna jam my thumb in his butthole now! Oh yeah, that pissed it off alright!”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0705950/quotes?item=qt0285968

  5. DrewN says

    If you have a pet tortoise, you’d have just the opposite problem. They’ll occasionally get their giant, weirdly floral, penises suck outside themselves after an erection & they need their owners to gently poke it back in for them.

  6. hemidactylus says

    As a best practice, after vibrating a turtle in a lab or elsewhere, or helping your pet tortoise with its priapism, it is always a good idea to wash your hands to prevent salmonellosis. This has been a PSA.

  7. emergence says

    I went to Moorpark College for my general ed, and the campus zoo had an American alligator named Happy. I was told that the zoo had trouble figuring out Happy’s sex. I’m not sure if this method would work on an alligator, but it would be kind of funny to watch.

  8. cartomancer says

    Harumph. The turtle people get to do this, but when I suggest a similar study with olympic diving champions the ethics board don’t even return my phone calls…

  9. wcorvi says

    @ #2 militantagnostic
    I agree. WHY did I ever choose PHYSICS??!? Oh, yea, physics is at least interesting.

  10. Alt-X says

    hehe Humans. Could you imaging, you’re swimming around one day, then a bunch of turtles hold you down a stick a vibrator down your pants. Timing you too! No pressure!

  11. einsophistry says

    @ #10 emergence

    Whoa, another Moorpark alum. I don’t think I ever met Happy, but I took an animal behavior course that convened right next to the pen of the inimitable and ever-chill Clarence…whom I’d really rather not think about in connection to the abovementioned article.

  12. Snarki, child of Loki says

    As Zappa should have been around to say:

    “Give me all your herpy luv, like your mama make that crusty turtle do”

  13. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out the process, as described in the quotes in the OP, doesn’t scale very well; that is, as the number of turtles approaches zillions, we’re gonna run out of grad students. Hence, most of the turtles on the way down won’t ever be sexed.

    Well, semi-sexed, since the process only locates male gendered turtles who, uh, “out” themselves…

  14. davidnangle says

    Great. Now there’s a subset of turtles that have a grad student fetish.

  15. Richard Smith says

    With a name like “Happy,” I would have suspected that they had no problem figuring out its sex.

    A possible method for smaller turtles might be to put a video camera in the toe of a Croc…

  16. Snarki, child of Loki says

    @19: “Great. Now there’s a subset of turtles that have a grad student fetish.”

    Rule 43: all the way down!

  17. says

    How did they come up with this hypothesis to begin with?
    Sexing turtles is easy, human to turtle SEXTING is not.
    Drunken meanderings forced on unassuming animals at the mercy of our care does not a hypothesis make.

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