Do Tortoises Have Tails

Tortoise’s anatomy is fascinating and marvelous in equal measure and it often has people who are interested in tortoise with many questions.

One question that often arises is whether tortoises have ears or tails.

So – Do tortoises have tails?

The answer is yes, tortoises have both ears and tails.

Tortoises come in many shapes and sizes, but each one has a unique shape and size.

The male tortoises typically have larger tails than females do.

Males also have longer legs than females do.

So yes, they do have a tail and it does help identify the sex.

But that is not all there is to the tail.

I know I had many more questions about the tortoise tail why it wiggles to wondering if it’s true that tortoise can drink through their tail.

We answer all these questions and give you things to look out for with your tortoise.

Purpose of the tail for Tortoises 

The tortoise tail is more important than you may first think.

As your tortoise does not have the ability to swim, its tail isn’t used to assist swimming like a fish.

Nor does your tortoise use its tail to climb trees like some land-dwelling animals do?

Tortoise use their tails during sex and they also play a vital part in protecting themselves.

Tail for mating 

Tortoises reproduce through sexual intercourse.

The male tortoise has a penis inside its body and the female tortoise does not have any such organ inside its body.

Tortoises mate by rolling onto each other and pushing their cloacas together.

The female then deposits eggs inside the male’s cloaca.

After fertilization occurs, she removes herself from the male’s body and leaves him alone until he lays another clutch of eggs.

The male tortoise penis is located at the base of the tail, the tail growing during mating season allowing the tortoise to grasp the female.

The large tail acts as a finger to locate the cloaca of the female to release its sperm.

The female will move her tail away from the male so he can perform the mating procedure.


Tortoise shells protect against predators because of their hard exterior.

However, the tail also protects tortoises by acting as a shield.

Turtles in the wild have been known to cross slippery surfaces and use their tails to balance themselves.

Tortoises use their tails to steady themselves.

They can also use their tails to protect their vent openings during egg laying and mating.

Will a Tortoise tail fall off?

Tortoises do not shed their tails nor will it fall off.

They lose their tails because of injury or fighting with another tortoise or predator.

A veterinarian can provide appropriate treatment for any injuries sustained during this type of event.

Is there any truth about tortoise tail regrowth?

A tortoise’s tail can grow back if it is damaged, however, after the injury heals the tail will never regain its original size.

A scar will remain until the end of the tortoise’s life.

Tortoise tail problems

Tortoises rarely have issues with their tails, and even when fighting they rarely bite at the tail.

They prefer to bite the neck and flip the other onto the shell.

Tortoise that are let out into the garden in springtime then pooped can often become runny as they get used to being back outside.

This causes the area around the tail to become loose and sore.

Why is your tortoise tail to one side?

When looking at our tortoises, we can often be concerned about things we haven’t seen before, such as the tail being to one side.

Tortoises often display unusual behaviors, such as walking with their tails to one side, but it is perfectly normal for a male tortoise to do so.

Some tortoises will go years without showing any signs of this behavior and it is more prominent in older males.

Why is my tortoise tail tucked in?

A female tortoise carries its tail differently than a male tortoise does.

A male tortoise can carry its tail to one side while a female can carry the tail tucked inside the shell.

Tortoises are known to walk with their tails tucked under their bodies because they feel vulnerable while walking around during mating season.

They do this to protect themselves from predators.

Do tortoises drink through their tails?

Tortoises cannot drink through their tails.

Misconceptions arise because tortoises use the cloaca to absorb water located near the tail.

A tortoise can absorb water through its mouth, but it cannot drink through its anus.

The misconception that a tortoise can drink through its tail stems from the fact that many owners feed their animals through this opening.

However, this is not recommended because it causes digestive issues.

Wrapping up 

The tortoise tail provides protection to a female tortoise and allows the male tortoise to mate.

There are also many myths surrounding the tortoise and the biggest one around the tail is that a tortoise can drink from it.

While it sounds intriguing, it isn’t true and we need to be careful with things like this so we offer our tortoise the correct care.

While this may be harmless, a myth surrounding the tortoise diet could have dramatic consequences on your tortoise life.


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