Bred with love and care to ensure they are happy, healthy and friendly.
In terms of which sex of Horsfield tortoise you have, the same rules apply as for Hermans tortoises. If you are having one to live alone, it does not really matter whether it is male or female. If you want more than one to live together, then you are better off with two females, in my experience and opinion. Two male Horsfield tortoises can be very aggressive to each other once they reach sexual maturity. If you have a male with one female he will bite her to entice her to keep still so he can mate with her and will persue her relentlessly. The stress may then make her ill and the injuries can lead to quite nasty lesions as they have a real sharp bite from thier beak.
If you have two males together there will be competition for
dominance and again this can lead to injuries.
I incubate all my eggs for females as I believe this is the better way to help new owners who want more than one tortoise. Many new owners are advised by various sites and pet shops to have two baby tortoises together and some dealers/breeders only sell them in twos but the fact remains that in the wild they are fairly solitary animals coming together to feed and mate only. Therefor, the most suitable ratio for a group is one male to four females (as a minimum). That way he will not stress out any of the individual females too much.
When people email me and ask if they should have one or two babies together, I remind them that they are happy on thier own or in twos but the above rules need to apply. Whislt manipulation of gender by incubation temperature is not 100% fool proof, reptiles are sensitive to temperature whilst developing and the temperature will determine thier sex. All my eggs are incubated between 31.5 and 32 degrees which is optimum temperature for female babies.
Tortoises do not mature sexually for a number of years, so they can seem pretty happy together then all of a sudden start injuring and attacking each other if they are not sexaully compatable, (ie both females) this can cause immense stress to new owners (as well as to the weaker tortoise), espcailly when they end up having to split them up and have the cost of two enclosures. So when I am asked "should i buy one or two babies," I do not think about the money I can make as many dealers/breeders may, I think about the long term welfare of the tortoises and I say its a matter of personal choice and I inform them of the above. I do not have hard and fast rules, but I do incubate for girls.
The following pictures (obtained from the Tortoise Trust) may be helpful in determining the sex of your tortoise.
1. Young horsfield - likley female. 3. Adult Female.
2. Young Horsfield - likely male. 4. Adult Male.
NB: whilst I incubate all my eggs for females and tortoises are environmentally sex determined, it is never 100% guarantee, so any families having 2 babies off me must be aware of the risks of ending up with one of each sex or 2 males, as you can not tell until they are a few years old. I am not directly responsible for the sex of the babies only the incubation temperatures!