Someone alert Bear Grylls. There’s a creature that is even more disgusting than he is when it comes to the mouth. So what is the animal, and what does it do? We can explain rather simply in one sentence. Chinese soft-shelled turtles urinate through their mouth. Yuck, right? But why do soft-shelled turtles urinate through their mouth, and why would anyone want to get close enough to experience this disgusting activity?
So turtles are amphibian animals, meaning that they can live both on land and in water. Even though they spend a large amount of their time in water, they are air breathing animals, which can have benefits. Of course, one of the benefits comes around during droughts, those extended dry periods where rain pretty well forgets how to fall. While many rivers, creeks and lagoons can withstand a drought, sometimes the dry weather can last longer than expected, or tey just didn’t have enough water to begin with. That’s what makes turtles so amazing and versatile. They can survive on land, and migrate to more bountiful environments. So what’s all of this got to do with these nasty little turtles? It was their behaviour during droughts that gained the attention of inquisitive scientists.
So one day some scientists noticed during a drought that these turtles were doing something weird. They were putting their heads into puddles of water. But what’s so weird about that? They’re turtles after all. Well as an air breathing reptile, they really have no need to just place their heads into water. It just didn’t make much sense, so an investigation was needed.
What they discovered was really weird. They fount that soft-shelled turtles basically urinate through their mouth. What they were doing was excreting urea, which is the main part of pee, through their mouths. All they were doing when they put their head into the water was washing it out. Who can blame them?
It is thought that they pee out their mouths due to the high concentration of salt in the environment that they live in. For animals to be able to excrete urea through the kidneys, they need to drink a lot of water, and salty water just isn’t the type of fluid that should be consumed, especially for reptiles that can’t excrete salt. Removing the urea in the mouth, then rinsing with water makes the whole process viable.