Turtle Tail : Do Turtles Have Tails? (15 Cool Facts)

People often express interest in knowing whether turtles have tails, and if they do, what purpose(s) those tails serve. Read on, for answers.

Do turtles have tails? Yes, all turtles have tails. Male turtles have longer and thicker tails than female turtles. The turtle tail serves an important role in reproduction. In male turtles, the tail houses the reproductive organ whereas in female turtles, it covers the reproductive vent.

In turtles, the tail is to be found at the rear end – somewhere around where the shell ends. For females the base of the tail is closer to the edge of the shell. In males, the base of the tail is somewhat further from the edge of the shell.

During mating, the male turtle’s tail plays some role in holding the female firmly, and in keeping the male turtle on top of the female for the period that is necessary for insemination.

The tip of the tail also helps the male turtle in locating the female’s vent, into which the male proceeds to insert its penis for insemination to take place.

Turtle tail
Turtle tail – Do turtles have tails?

In females, the tail helps in protecting the sensitive vent – which houses the reproductive tract, and from which eggs come out.

The tail also helps the females somewhat while they are digging holes into which to lay eggs.

Turtle tails do sometimes get hurt. And whereas they don’t regrow fully (like, say, lizard tails), they do heal well with proper care.

 

Do Turtles Have Tails?

Tails are amongst the defining features for turtles. So all turtles do have tails: though in some, the tails are bigger and more distinct than in others. But all turtles do have tails.

It is in fact through the turtle tail that we are able to differentiate male turtles from female turtles.

In that regard, the difference between male turtle and female turtle is in that the males have longer and thicker tails. Females, on the other hand, have shorter and thinner tails.

It is in/around the tails that we find the turtle reproductive organs. For male turtles, the penis is actually housed within the tail (at the base of the tail).

For female turtles, the tail covers the reproductive vent.

Mating in turtles therefore always involves some movement of the tails.

For female turtles, the tail moves upwards, and then sideways – thus opening up their vents for insemination.

And for male turtles, the tail moves sideways, exposing the penis. The penis is then inserted into the vent, so that insemination takes place.

Admittedly, in some turtles, the tail is so small that it is hardly noticeable. This is why people often find themselves posing the do turtles have tails question.

So if you have been having the do turtles have tails question, now you know the answer. It is a categorical ‘yes’: though in some turtles the tail may be so small that you almost miss it.

Having thus dealt with the do turtles have tails question, we can now proceed to explore the question on what a turtle tail looks like.

 

What Does A Turtle Tail Look Like?

The turtle tail – like all other reptile tails – has a somewhat sharp tip.

So in a turtle, the tail is the structure with a somewhat sharp tip that is at the rear end of the body – just after where the turtle’s shell ends.

In a male turtle, the tail will typically be long and thick. And in a female turtle, the tail will typically be short and thin.

In many ways, the turtle tail looks like a tortoise’s tail. This is why, when you compare turtle tail images to tortoise tail images, you tend to see lots of similarities.

For instance, a female tortoise tail is shorter and thinner – just like a female turtle’s tail.

Therefore if you have been having the do tortoises have tails that are similar to turtles, now you know the answer.

Tortoise tails are similar to turtle tails in almost all respects. And they serve pretty much the same roles.

That therefore also answers the do turtles and tortoises have tails that are similar in structure and function. And the answer is in the affirmative. If your tortoise doesn’t poop, take a look at their rear to see if there’s any health issue.

All in all, in a turtle, the tail is the structure with a sharp tip at the rear end of the turtle’s body – just after where the turtle’s shell ends.

Now that we have some insight on what a turtle’s tail looks like, we can proceed to explore the why do turtles have tails question.

 

Why Do Turtles Have Tails?

In answering the why do turtles have tails question, we need to look at the key functions of the turtle tail.

One of the functions of tails in turtles is that of housing the turtle reproductive organs.

In male turtles, the penis is at the base of the tail. And in female turtles, the reproductive tract is covered and protected by the tail.

During mating, it is through the use of the tail tip that the male turtle is able to locate the female’s vent.

Further, during mating, the male turtle’s tail helps him in holding onto the female/remaining on top of the female for the duration necessary for complete insemination.

In female turtles, the reproductive vent is very sensitive and can’t be left exposed. This is why the tail covers it: only exposing it at mating and egg laying times.

Furthermore, at egg laying time, the female turtles need to dig holes into which to deposit the eggs. While they mainly do the digging with their hind legs, the tail also plays some supporting role.

The tail is also helpful after laying the eggs – when it comes to covering the nest hole with soil. Again, while the turtles mostly cover the holes using their hind legs, the tail plays some supportive role.

Beyond reproduction, the tail also seems to help the turtles in maintaining balance while navigating rough terrains, like on top or rocks.

Therefore if you have been wondering, why does my turtle have a tail, now you know the purposes that the turtle tail serves.

After thus exploring the why do turtles have tails question at a general level, we can now proceed to look at specific types of turtles.

 

Do Snapping Turtles Have Tails?

Yes, snapping turtles have tails. In fact, the snapping turtle tail is one of the biggest.

Therefore if you try to research on what kind of turtles have long tails, the snapping turtle will usually be somewhere near the top of the list.

Similarly, if one tries to research on what type of turtles have tails that are very well defined, the snapping turtle will usually feature very prominently.

Among the pet turtles, it is the snapping turtle that has a long and hard-to-miss tail. This often leads people to ask, do only snapping turtles have tails?

But the true position is that all other turtles also have tails. It is just that the tails in those other turtles may not be as long/prominent as the snapping turtle tail.

In this context, people often also ask, do all snapping turtles have tails? And the answer is yes – though in male snapping turtles, the tails are longer and thicker (hence more noticeable) than in female snapping turtles.

Another common question: can snapping turtles reach their tail? The answer is that, given the remarkable length of their tails, snapping turtles can almost reach their tails – especially the males.

 

Do Box Turtles Have Tails?

Often, the people who pose the do turtles have tails question turn out to be individuals who own box turtles.

Examining the box turtles, they are unable to locate the tails with ease. That then leads them to pose the do box turtles have tails question.

So, indeed, do box turtles have tails? Yes – like all other turtles, box turtles do have tails.

The problem with the box turtle tail is in the fact that it is rather small. Therefore it is very easy to miss.

Male box turtles have longer and thicker tails. This is expectable, especially considering that the box turtle penis is housed in the cloaca at the base of the tail.

Nonetheless, even the ‘longer and thicker’ tail in a male box turtle is still relatively small, hence easy to miss.

And if the male box turtle’s tail is easy to miss, one can only imagine the situation with the female box turtle’s tail…

All in all, box turtles do have tails. It is just that the tails are rather small, and therefore quite easy to miss.

Now box turtles are in the category of land turtles. So the do box turtles have tails question can be rephrased as do land turtles have tails?

And as we have seen, box turtles – just like all other land turtles and indeed all other turtles – do have tails.

 

Do Sea Turtles Have Tails?

Often, the people who pose the do turtles have tails question decide to be more specific – and ask whether sea turtles in particular have tails.

So, indeed, do sea turtles have a tail? The answer is ‘yes’. All sea turtles have tails.

Sea turtle tail length normally depends on the species, age and gender of the sea turtle in question.

With regard to gender, we tend to find that male sea turtles have bigger tails than females. So the female turtle vs male turtle tail size difference also applies in sea turtles.

And with regard to age, we find that mature sea turtles have bigger tails than those that are yet to reach maturity.

With regard to species, the situation is such that some sea turtle species have bigger tails than others.

One may opt to be more specific and ask: do green sea turtles have tails? They do, with the location of the tail in a green sea turtle being at the rear end of its body, somewhere close to the edge of its shell.

 

Do Painted Turtles Have Tails?

Painted turtles do have tails. The painted turtle tail may not be as long as the snapping turtle’s tail. Neither is it as small as the box turtle tail. So it is somewhere in between, usually with bright yellow streaks.

 

Do Red Eared Sliders Have Tails?

Red eared sliders to have tails. Typically, the tail in a red ear slider will be green in color, but with irregular lines that are yellow.

The tail can play a role in red eared slider gender determination. This is because the male red eared slider tail will tend to be longer and thicker than the female’s.

Moreover, the male red eared slider tail base is further from the edge of the shell than the female’s.

 

Do Baby Turtles Have Tails?

Baby turtles do have tails. But the tails are not fully developed. In fact, in very young baby turtles, it may be rather hard to spot the tails. But all baby turtles have tails.

It is not until they reach sexual maturity that their tails attain the full lengths.

It is also usually not until they reach sexual maturity that we can differentiate their genders (males from the females) on the basis of their tails.

All in all, do turtles have tails right from the time when they are hatchlings? The answer is yes – though it takes some years before the tails attain their full adult sizes.

Sometimes, one may notice a baby turtle pooping from the area around where its tail is located. This then often leads to the question: do turtles poop out of their tails when they are young?

The answer is that the poop comes out of turtles (young ones and adults alike) through the cloacal opening.

But because the cloacal opening is close to the tail, one may get the impression that the turtles are actually pooping out of their tails.

Turtle tail
Turtle tail – Do turtles have tails?

 

Do Male Turtles Have Tails?

Often, the do turtles have tails question takes gender dimensions. That is where, for instance, people express interest in knowing whether male turtles in particular have tails.

So, indeed, do male turtles have tails? The answer is yes. All male turtles have tails. Their tails are usually longer than female turtle’s tails.

And the base of the tails in male turtles is usually closer to the edge of the shells than in female turtles.

This leads to another question: do male turtles have longer tails than females in all cases? And the answer is ‘yes’. All other factors (like species and age) being constant, a male turtle’s tail will always be longer than a female’s.

 

Do Female Turtles Have Tails?

There are instances where people examine their female turtles and seem to find no tails on them.

That leads to a variation of the do turtles have tails question, in which people are specifically interested in knowing whether female turtles have tails.

The true position is that all female turtles do have tails. It is just that the tails in female turtles tend to short, thin and less prominent. This is what makes them easy to miss.

But female turtles do have tails.

So in most cases, if you find a turtle with long tail, you instantly know that it is a male. And if you find an adult turtle with tail whose length is very short, you instantly know that it is most likely a female.

 

Do All Turtles Have Tails?

Another variation of the do turtles have tails question is this one: where people seek to know whether all turtles have tails.

The truth of the matter is that all turtles do have tails. It is just that in some turtles, the tails are so small that they are easy to miss. But they are always there.

Therefore any effort to find out about the types of turtles with tails may not be very fruitful: because all types of turtles have tails of some sort.

It is just the length, thickness, shape and location of the turtle tail that may differ. But all turtles do have tails.

 

My Turtle Hurt Its Tail – What To Do?

If it is a particularly bad injury, the best thing to do is to rush the turtle to an exotic pets vet.

But if it is a minor injury, you can start by getting the turtle out of the water. Then dry the area with the tail injury. After that, apply some antibiotic ointment to the area: for instance, Neosporin.

Monitor the injury closely over the next few days. If it seems to worsen, take the turtle to a vet immediately.

 

How Long Does It Take For A Turtle’s Tail To Heal?

It depends on the nature of the injury.

If it is a minor turtle tail injury, it may heal in as little as two weeks.

But if it is a major turtle tail injury, it may take as much as a year to heal properly.

 

Do Turtle Tails Grow Back?

In other words, do turtles have tails that are capable of re-growing?

The answer is ‘no’. Turtle tails are not capable of re-growing to the same extent as, say, lizard tails.

But if they are nipped, they do often heal so well that they regain full function, but without re-growing.

So if you had the do turtles have tails that can regrow after injury question, now you know the answer. Turtle tails can’t regrow the way lizard tails do.

But with proper care, they do heal well – and often regain full function.

 

Final Verdict – Do Turtles Have Tails

Turtles do have tails. The tails are on the rear ends of their bodies, somewhere close to their shell edges.

Male turtles typically have longer and thicker tails. Female turtles typically have shorter and thinner tails.

Turtle tail
Turtle tail – Do turtles have tails?

The turtle tails mainly help in reproduction. Male turtle reproductive organs are located in the area around the base of their tails. And female turtle reproductive organs are actually covered and protected by their tails.

The turtle tails also help somewhat in providing support while navigating tough terrains.

Injured or nipped turtle tails may not be capable of re-growing the way lizard tails do. But with proper care, such turtle tails heal well – usually to the extent of regaining full function.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet turtle a good and comfortable life!

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