Do Turtles Have Tails?

do turtles have tails

Turtles are one of the oldest reptiles living on earth. These small creatures are adorable with a blessing of long age. Although turtles belong to the reptile family, they show different characteristics. Like many animals, turtles also have tails, but they don’t use them in conventional ways. 

For example, fish use their tails for navigating in the water. Similarly, cheetah’s tails give them better balancing capability so they can run faster. So what is the use of tails for turtles? Why do they have them in the first place? 

This article will answer all questions regarding turtle’s tails. So let’s find out whether all turtles have tails or if there are any exceptions. 

Related Article: Can Turtles & Tortoises Feel Their Shell?

Do turtles have tails?

Yes, both male and female turtles do have a tail. The tails in turtles have different uses for males and females. For male turtles, their tails consist of reproductive organs and are very important. However, for female turtles, there is no such importance of the tail, and they use it for covering their vents only. 

Turtles belong to the reptile family, but they show different characteristics altogether. Although all organs of turtles are enclosed in their hard shell, the tail is designed so that male turtles can use it for reproduction. In male turtles, the bottom part of their tail has reproductive organ, in general terms we cab refer to it as penis. 

However, in female turtles, the tails are just a part of the body, and it does not contribute to any significant work. Female turtles use their tails for protecting and covering their vents.  

What is a vent in a turtle?

Reptiles, birds and amphibians have biological structures very different to mammals. They don’t have separate vaginal and anal openings. Rather they have cloaca as an organ functioning as a waste repository. 

The cloaca in turtles (and in other reptiles, birds and amphibians) opens outside the body via a hole called vent. Vent serves various functions in turtles. Female turtles use it as a vaginal opening during their mating and also laying out the eggs. 

Why do turtles have tails?

At this point, you must be familiar with the fact that turtles do have a tail. You might be thinking, why do they have tails? What is the purpose of tails in turtles? Let me answer your question.

Turtles do not use their tails like other reptiles or animals. The tails have very different uses for male and female turtles. Male turtles, by the time of their adulthood, develop long and strong tails. On the other hand, female turtles possess a small yet sharp tail once they achieve maturity. 

For male turtles, tails hold a greater significance. Male turtles have reproductive organs in the base of their tail. During sexual intercourse, male turtles also use their tail for finding the vaginal opening of the female turtles. While for female turtles, the tail does not hold any such importance. Female turtles use their tails only for covering and protecting their vents. Times other than mating, female turtles keep their tail down, covering their vent with the tails. 

Turtles use their tails in mating, but their long tails also help identify male and female turtles. Shorted tail signifies a female, whereas a longer tail is associated with a male turtle. 

The tail is a very sensitive part for both male and female turtles. For males, it helps greatly in finding the correct vaginal opening of the female turtle. Mating will be an impossible task for males if they don’t have their sensitive tails with them. 

For female turtles, the tail is useful while hiding their eggs in the sand. Female turtles lay eggs in the sands; they use their tails to level the land to hide eggs from predators. 

How do turtles use their tails in mating?

Male turtles have reproductive organs placed in their tails. During intercourse, male turtles use their tail to find out the female vaginal opening or cloaca. With the help of the tail tip, a male turtle opens the cloaca and penetrates. 

The long tail in males also helps them in holding female turtles during intercourse. Without a long and strong tail in male turtles, it would be a daunting task to engage in intercourse. 

Female turtles pull their tails upward or sideways during intercourse. The rest of the time, they use tails to cover their vents.

Do all turtles have tails?

Yes, all turtles have tails. This is sometimes very common in all kinds of turtles, including sea turtles. The tails of both male and female turtles contain an opening called vent or cloaca, which is used for excreting urine and other waste from their body.

Although all kinds of turtles do have a tail, the length of the tail may vary depending on the sex of the turtle. It is seen that at the age of sexual maturity, male turtles develop much longer tails than female turtles. The tail analysis is a scientific approach for determining the sex of the turtle. 

Can Turtles Regrow Their Tails?

Unlike some other reptiles, turtles cannot grow their tail if nipped or chopped. However, if a turtle gets an injury on the tail, it can be healed completely with proper medication. If the injury happens to a young turtle, it will likely be healed over time like nothing ever happened. 

Due to the small tail size in young turtles, it might be not easy to detect the tail. Nothing to worry about if the turtle is under the age of 6-7 years. In most turtles, the tail is visible once the turtle enters their sexual maturity age of around 6-7 years for sea turtle.  


All turtles do have a tail. Male turtles have reproductive organs in their tail. On the other side, no such organ is present in female tails. Female turtles use their tail to cover the vent and to hide eggs in sands. Another use of the tail for turtles is that it gives a grip on slippery terrain. Male turtles usually develop a longer tail as compared to female turtles. The long tail in male turtles helps them in holding female turtles at the time of sexual intercourse.