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Can Turtles Breathe Out Of Their Butts?

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Turtles can live for up to 50 years and weigh as much as 150 pounds. They’re found in warm climates all over the world. There are so many fun facts about turtles, but did you know that they can breathe through their bottoms?

Turtle on a floating log in water

Turtles are reptiles that have a shell, and they breathe through their butts. They can also breathe out of their mouths, but the air is not as clean in their mouths because it’s been filtered by their tongue.

The air that comes out of their butt holes is more like what we would call “clean” air. It’s got fewer dust and dirt particles than the air coming from their mouths.

If you want to know more about turtles and how exactly they can breathe through their butt, then read on!

Do Turtles Breathe Out Of Their Butts?

Turtles are air-breathing reptiles, but they have a special organ that allows them to breathe through their anal openings. turtles do indeed breathe through their butts, just like most other animals.

The only difference between them and us is that we don’t use our butt holes for breathing, unlike turtles. How do they do this, you ask?

Well, they do this through a process called a pneumatophore. This is when air passes from one side of the body to another. It does so through small tubes called the trachea.

These tubes connect with the lungs which then filter the air and send it back into the body.

Technically, a turtle doesn’t have a butt hole but a cloaca instead. A cloaca is a tube that connects all the parts of the body together. It’s where waste products go, and it’s also used for reproduction.

Other animals that can breathe this way include frogs, salamanders, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, turtles, and even fish.

How Do We Know That Turtles Breathe In And Out Of Their Butt Hole?

If you look at a turtle closely, you’ll notice that there is an opening right below its tail. This hole is known as the cloaca.

There are two openings in the cloaca: urogenital orifice (UGO) and ventral genital pore (VGP). UGO is where urine comes out, and VGP is where feces come out.

When a turtle breathes, air enters through the nostrils and goes into the mouth.

Then it travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. From there, it travels down the intestines until it reaches the rectum. At this point, the air goes into the cloaca.

Once inside the cloaca, the air moves toward the UGO and VGP. As soon as the air gets near these openings, it exits via the anus. turtles breathe out of their butts because they need to get rid of waste products.

Why Do Turtles Breathe In This Way?

Turtles breathe this way so they don’t get waterlogged. Water gets trapped in the lungs when an animal breathes out of its mouth.

The water doesn’t come out of the animal’s body until the next time it breathes. So if a turtle breathes out through its mouth, it will drown. To avoid drowning, a turtle must breathe out through its butt.

Additionally, breathing through your butt keeps you warm. Another reason that they breathe this way is that it helps keep their internal organs moist, which helps to prevent infections.

How Long Does It Take For Air To Travel From One End Of Its Body To The Other?

Turtle walking on white background

It takes a bit longer than a human would need to take a breath.

An adult turtle can exhale air for about five minutes before needing to inhale again. That means it takes about 20 seconds for the air to travel from one end of the turtle’s body to the other.

What Happens During Pneumatophore?

Pneumatophore, which we mentioned above, is the process by which air travels from one part of the body to another tube called tracheae.

Tracheae are found throughout the body, and they help transport oxygen to different areas. They also carry carbon dioxide away from those areas.

If you’ve ever had asthma, you know how important it is to be able to breathe properly. Your lungs are filled with tiny hairs called cilia. Cilia constantly beat to move mucus up and out of your lungs.

If you stop breathing, the cilia won’t be able to work as well. This causes mucus to build up in your lungs. Eventually, it becomes too thick and hard to expel.

When a turtle breathes through its butt, air travels through the trachea and lungs before entering the cloaca. Inside the cloaca, the trachea splits up into three branches.

One branch goes to the UGO, while the other two branches go to the VGP. Air then flows from one part of the body to another through the tracheas.

The air then leaves the animal through the anal opening. Because the air has traveled through the tracheae, it’s easier for the animal to breathe.

Where Does The Air Go After It Leaves The Cloaca?

The air leaves the cloaca and goes into the body through the tracheas and the lungs. Some air goes back to the blood vessels. The rest of the air goes into the circulatory system.

The circulatory system is made up of veins, arteries, capillaries, and lymphatic vessels. Veins carry blood away from the heart.

Arteries carry blood to the heart. Capillaries connect arteries to veins. Lymphatic vessels drain fluid from tissues.

All of these vessels have valves that allow blood to flow only in one direction. These valves prevent the backflow of blood.

When the air enters the circulatory system, it passes through the valves. The air then continues on to the heart, where it fills the heart’s chambers.

What Is A Cloaca?

A cloaca is a place where waste products are expelled. turtles have two cloacas: one at each end of their bodies. The cloacae are located between the legs, just behind the front feet.

As a turtle moves around, its waste products exit through the cloaca. This is common in all reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and iguanas.

How Does Cloacal Respiration Work?

Cloacal respiration works much like how humans breathe. The cloaca acts as the lungs, while the intestines act as the windpipe.

The cloaca is connected to the intestine via the intestinal canal. The air travels through the intestines, then into the cloaca. The air then travels out of the cloaca and into the rest of the body.

Animals respire this way because it allows them to stay cool. In addition, it helps keep bacteria out of the digestive tract.

What Types Of Turtles Are Capable Of Cloacal Respiration?

All turtles can use cloacal respiration. However, some species do not need to use it.

For example, most Aldabra giant turtles (Geochelone gigantea) live in the wild. They don’t require cloacal respiration because they spend so much time basking in the sun.

Other species, such as the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta), must use cloacal respira­tion if they want to survive.

If you own a turtle or turtle, make sure it has enough room to exercise. Also, be sure to provide plenty of fresh water.

Why Do Turtles Need To Use Cloacal Respiration More Than Other Reptiles?

Turtle basking on a rock

Turtles are cold-blooded animals. That means they cannot regulate their internal temperature by sweating. Instead, they rely on external heat sources to maintain their body temperature.

To keep warm, they bask in the sun. Basking in the sun keeps the turtles’ skin moist. Moist skin allows the turtles to absorb more heat.

In addition, turtles can’t sweat. Sweating would cause them to lose too much moisture.

Without moisture, the turtles would get dehydrated. Dehydration causes the turtles to become sluggish. It also makes them susceptible to disease.

Turtles may also need to use cloacal respi­ration when they eat. During digestion, the food particles pass through the intestines. Once the food is digested, the waste products travel down the intestinal canal.

At the bottom of the intestinal canal is the cloaca. The waste products leave the cloaca and enter the bloodstream. Additionally, the waste products help keep bacteria out of the gut.

History Of Turtles

The turtle is one of the oldest living animals on Earth. The earliest known fossil evidence of this reptile dates back more than 100 million years ago.

Fossils found in China show that the ancestors of modern-day turtles were already living on land. They also show that these early turtles had very small heads and necks.

Over time, the head grew larger, and the neck became longer. By the time we see fossils of today’s turtles, they have large heads with short necks. There are over 300 species of turtle. Most are native to Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.

There are even some species that live in North America. Many people think that turtles are slow-moving creatures. In reality, most turtles move quickly. They usually walk slowly but can run fast if necessary.

In the modern-day, turtles are often kept as pets. People keep them as companions, food sources, or for scientific research.

Additionally, many types of turtles are bred for human consumption. Some are used for meat, and others are raised for their shells.

Fun Facts About Turtles

  • Turtles are herbivores. They eat plants and vegetation.
  • They do not have teeth. Instead, they have horny plates called osteoderms. This helps protect them from predators.
  • Some turtles can change color when threatened.
  • Turtle eggs are laid in nests. Each nest has about 20 eggs.
  • Turtle shells are made up of calcium carbonate.
  • Turtle shells are used in jewelry making.
  • Turtles shells are sometimes used to make musical instruments.
  • Turtle shells are also used to make bowls.
  • Many people believe that turtles are good luck charms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does “Cloacal Respi­ra­tion” Mean?

Cloacal respiration means breathing through the anus.

Why Would An Animal Breathe Through Its Butt?

This is called cloacal respiration. When an animal breathes, air enters the lungs and exits through the mouth. However, there are times when an animal needs to breathe without having to go through the mouth.

For example, when an animal is sleeping, eating, or basking in the sun, it doesn’t need to breathe through the mouth. Instead, it can breathe through the anus.

Do All Animals Breathe This Way?

No, only certain types of reptiles breathe this way. Snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and turtles are a few examples of animals that breathe this way.

Are Turtles Lucky?

Yes, many people believe that turtle shells are good luck charms. They say that if you find a shell, you will succeed in whatever you decide to do.

What Do Turtles Eat?

Turtles eat plants and vegetation. They also eat insects.


So, in conclusion, though it is technically called ‘cloacal respiration,’ turtles can, in fact, breathe out of their butt. How crazy is that?

It isn’t just turtles that are capable of this, either. Some other reptiles, like snakes and lizards, can also breathe through their butts.

So, next time you’re watching a nature documentary, be sure to pay attention to how your favorite animal breathes!

Turtles often breathe this way; they don’t have to worry about losing water while they’re basking in the sun.

Also, because they don’t sweat, they don’t get dehydrated. turtles are fun and unique creatures that are fascinating to learn about!

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.