When you think of turtles and tortoises, the first thing that strikes us is their shells. They are known for their hard shells which protect them.
But what really is inside the turtle shell? Is it possible for turtles to live without shells?
Let us see what turtle shells are and if turtle shells can be removed from them.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the reading.
Can Turtle Shells Be Removed?
No! Turtle shells cannot and should not be removed from their body. A turtle or tortoise shell is a modified extension of its backbone.
It must never be removed while the turtle is alive. Trying to remove a turtle shell while it is alive will be fatal and would kill the turtle.
Turtle shells that are used in clinical studies and scientific research are obtained by removing the shell from the turtle’s body after its death.
It is illegal to remove a turtle from its shell while alive. Removing shells from exotic and endangered species is punishable in the United States under Animal protection laws.
Some people have the habit of collecting turtle shells and it is okay unless the shell doesn’t belong to an endangered turtle or tortoise.
Now let us see what turtle shells are made of and why do turtles actually grow turtles behind their back?
Why Do Tortoises Grow Shells?
Tortoise grows shells as a primary defense mechanism against nature and other predators.
In times of extreme weather or predator threat, turtles will tuck inside the shell for protection. The shells are tough and extremely durable.
Turtle shells are not attached but actually a part of their body. They are the modified extension of their ribcage and backbone made of a hard substance called Keratin.
This is due to the result of 200 million plus years of evolution. Turtle shells will grow as the turtle ages and the shell size will be according to its body.
So, turtle shells play a major role in survival. But can a turtle survive without its shell on the back?
Can a Turtle Survive without Its Shell?
No! It is unimaginable for turtles to live or survive without shells. The turtle shells are a modified extension of the turtle’s backbone over the back.
It is made of hard Keratin and helps mainly in shielding the turtle from predators and other dangers. Without the shell, the turtle is dead.
Turtles use their shell to hide when the surrounding is threatened or in terms of predator attacks. But it is always fused with their body.
They are not capable of leaving and entering the shell just like shown in movies. This is also a reason why turtles are slower in commutation. But turtles are relatively faster in water than on land.
If turtle shells are always attached to their body, then what will happen if a turtle shell is removed?
What Happens if A Turtle Shell Is Removed?
When shells are removed from their body, it will extinguish the turtle. When predators try to feed on turtles, the first thing it does is remove the turtle shell.
Removing the turtle shell will tear it apart and cause death within seconds.
Even if the turtle does not die the moment the shell is removed, it will not survive long without the shell.
Turtle shells will be removed from the body only after its death. The following video gives a clear idea on how to remove the shell off a dead turtle.
But never try this with a living pet or wild turtle. It will result In immediate death of the poor animal.
So, the shell is most vital for a turtle’s protection and survival. Since the turtle shell protects it from hits and blows, it gets damaged every now and then.
If the shell is damaged or broken, can the turtle survive with a damaged shell?
Can Tortoise and Turtle Survive with A Broken Shell?
Yes! Turtles can live with broken or cracked shells. Shells are living parts of the body. They grow and heal themselves.
With decreased stress and good diet and rest period, tortoises can easily survive cracks in their shells.
Cracks will happen on the turtle shell when stress or pressure is applied. A blow or hit by moving objects or animals are major reason for cracks on turtle shells.
Some of the major reasons for cracks in turtle shells are
- Cracked by other pets.
- Hit by a moving vehicle.
- Fighting with another turtle.
- Accidental drop from height.
- Trying to escape the cage.
Cracks on shells are common in any turtle’s lifespan. But after a crack on a shell, will turtle heal themselves?
Do Turtle Shells Heal Themselves?
Turtle shells will heal by themselves naturally. They are like any other growing body parts and will heal over time. But with some help from the human side, the healing process will be faster and less painful.
Turtle owners can help them heal cracks quickly by following the steps mentioned below.
- Consult the veterinarian first.
- Clean the wound regularly.
- Keep it dry and apply prescribed antibiotics.
- If cracks are large, consider applying a resin or fiberglass patch over the shell.
When the injury is small, it will cause only slight cracks on the shell and heal quickly. But when the blow is hard, it may even damage the inner organs.
Deeper cracks require more care and take longer time to heal than minute cracks over the shell.
Good shell maintenance will reduce injury and improve the repair time. There are a lot of techniques like applying oil on turtle shells and massaging to aid turtles in their shell healing process.
Turtle Shell Removed- Wrap Up
Summing up, the turtle shell is one of the most vital parts of a turtle and must not be removed at any cost. Living turtles survive only with their shell. Removing shells from a living tortoise will result in immediate death.
But still, shells can be removed from turtles after their death. Collecting dead turtle shells is okay unless the shell belongs to an exotic or endangered turtle.
Possessing those types of turtles is a crime and may even lead to punishment from the government.
That was all about turtle shells and why you should not remove a living turtle’s shell.
We hope this blog helps you by clearing all queries related to turtle shells and their removal.
We always welcome your suggestions. Comment below on some best experiences with these cute little turtles.
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See ya! Until then stay happy with your awesome pet turtles and tortoises. 😉
Turtle Shell Removed– Related questions
What Happens if A Turtle Loses Its Shell?
A living turtle will never lose its hell. But if a turtle loses its shell, it will most presumably die. Trying to remove a living tortoiseshell will also result in immediate death of the animal. A turtle shell must be removed only after its death.
Do Turtles Feel Pain in Their Shells?
Turtles will feel pain in their shell if they are hit or damaged. A hard blow on the shell will cause great pain and stress for turtles.
Sometimes, pain may be felt due to mild damage and cracks on their shell. If your turtle is restless due to pain, visit the vet immediately.