Human Interaction

Top 10 Weird Turtle Facts

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Males Select Potential Mates By Sniffing Tails

OK -- so humans shouldn't really talk, since we have some pretty silly mating behavior of our own, including selecting potential partners on the basis of their dancing ability or zodiac sign. In comparison, perhaps male chelonians' method of sniffing under other female chelonians' tails is relatively sensible, not to mention functional.

Since both males and females' sexual organs are hidden inside their cloaca, a cavity used for both reproduction and eliminating waste, humans have trouble telling by sight which shelled creature is female and which is male. Turtles and tortoises, however, possess an extremely keen sense of smell. According to Turtles: An Extraordinary Natural History 245 Years in the Making, males apparently can detect the scent of pheromones, a type of identifying chemical, that is secreted inside a female's cloaca. Chelonians rely on scent so heavily that a male red-footed tortoise once was observed trying to mount a head of lettuce that a female had just climbed over, according to the book Behavior of Exotic Pets.

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