Do Tortoises Have Tails?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It is okay if you are confused about the anatomy of the tortoises. In fact, there are many misconceptions about tortoise physiology. For example, people often think tortoises can slip off their shells. But let’s keep the discussion limited to tails for this article.

Tortoises do have tails, and it is an integral part of their body structure. Tails help the tortoises in mating and balancing. Also, tails are one of the few ways of identifying the tortoise gender by observation. Tails of these creatures can be large or thick depending on the species, sex, age, etc.

Give this article a quick read to learn exciting facts on tortoise tails.

Do Tortoises Have Tails?

Tortoises indeed have tails, and it is quite visible. Of course, tails seem useless, but they are not. In fact, tails play a significant role in keeping the tortoise’s regular activities in order.

Do you know the tails are older than the shells?

Yes. Scientists assume that tortoise tails have evolved before the shells. While the turtles used their tails for swimming, the tortoises used them as a digging weapon.

Tortoise tails have the full capacity to grow. Many of you may not know that tortoises can wag their tails. Moreover, tortoise tails are sensitive to touch or any other damage.

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Why Do Tortoises Need A Tail?

The tail is not just another body part for the tortoises. Instead, tails pose as a significant assistant to the tortoise’s life. Such as,

1. Allow The Male Tortoises To Enjoy The Coitus

Though male and female tortoises look the same, their anatomy has notable differences. For example, male tortoises have their reproductive organs at the base of the tails. But it is not the same for females.

So, it goes without saying that the tails play a crucial role in mating for males.

The tails of adult male tortoises generally grow during the breeding season. As a result, the tortoises can now grip their partners during the coitus and find the cloaca. Also, the tails help them to release their sperm in the females.

Tails have no direct use for females in mating. But the females move their tails and allow the males to penetrate when breeding.

2. Protect The Creatures From Trouble

Of course, tortoises have hard shells to protect them from outer dangers. Tails do not promise to offer such a safeguard.

Instead, the tails help the tortoise to stay in its path. For example, the wild roads are slippery and full of up-and-down hills. In such cases, the tails help the tortoises navigate better and stay steady.

Besides, tails seem to protect the cloaca of female tortoises. It is the same vent they use for mating and depositing eggs.

3. An Indicator In Gender Determination

Tortoises exhibit sex dimorphism in size and other characteristics. For example, the males have larger and thicker tails than the females. Well, the bigger tail helps the males during mating.

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However, you can not identify the gender on the basis of the tail of a baby tortoise. The creature should be mature enough to qualify for this process.

4. Safeguard The Female Tortoises

The male tortoises can get aggressive during the mating season. They tend to mount the females and get involved in coitus.

But yes, female tortoises have the full freedom to choose potential partners.

So, when the male approaches the female, she tucks in her cloaca with the tail. It helps the female to resist mating.

5. Release the Waste

Tortoises do not urinate and poop separately. Instead, they release the waste in the form of a fluid substance. When taking the dump, the tortoises lift their tails to channel the waste properly.

Can Tortoise Tails Fall Off?

Lizards lose their tails when in danger. They do this to switch the predator’s focus from them. In the meantime, the lizards run off with their life.

I do not know why but some people think tortoises can do this stunt too.

Sorry to disappoint you. But tortoises can not lose their tails like lizards.

Instead, you need to take immediate steps if the tortoises hurt their tails in an accident or fight. Take the pets to the vet as soon as possible.

Do Tortoise Tails Regrow Themselves?

Tortoises have the ability to heal their damaged and cracked shells. They can also regrow any cuts or scratches on the skin cells.

But, of course, tortoises can not regrow their tails.

If the creatures lose their tails in an accident, take pets to the vet with the tail. The expert will try to stitch the tail back and revive the nerves. But the healing chances are narrow.

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Should You Worry About Tortoise Tails?

Well, it is pretty unusual for the tortoises to get hurt in the tails. Yes, living in a damp enclosure can cause infection in the tail area. But it can be treated easily.

Nevertheless, the one thing that may disturb the owners is the various tail positions of the tortoises.

You may spot your tortoise roaming around, resting the tail on one side. Also, sometimes, the pets tuck in the tail. Is there something to worry about?

Let’s see.

Tail On The Side

I do not know why tortoises walk with their tails on the side, but it seems normal. This behavior is more noticeable in adult males.

Tucked Tail

Female tortoises have a habit of walking with tucked tails. They do it to protect their vents from damage. During the nesting season, this habit of female tortoises becomes more visible.

Tortoises Drink Via Their Tails: Yes Or No?

Turtles can breathe via their butts. Not only that. These creatures can absorb water through their cloaca tissues.

Well, tortoises can do the same thing. Of course, not the breathing part but water absorption.

When you soak the tortoise in the bath, the cloaca membranes suck off the water and help in hydration. But in any case, tails have no contribution at all.

So, no. tortoises do not drink via tails.

Before You Go

As you are interested in tortoise anatomy, the facts about these creatures’ shells will surely amaze you. I have attached some spicy links in the below texts.

Can tortoises go inside the shell?

Can tortoises live without shells?

How strong is a tortoise shell?

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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