Can Turtle Shells Heal? [Truths Revealed]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There is a striking resemblance between a large set of armor and the shell of a turtle. despite being strong as armor there are situations when your turtle could break their shell by itself. On other occasions, the harm may have been caused accidentally by you, the family dog, a loved one, or someone else.

Turtles can heal themselves over time because turtle shells are formed of natural materials like keratin and bone. There are some wounds that are quite mild and may recover from on their own in a matter of weeks.

In spite of the extent of the damage, you will need to treat the injury and assist in holding the parts together so that they may recover. In this piece, I will talk about cracked turtle shells, including why it happens and whether or not it’s possible to fix them.

Continue reading if you want some helpful insights on how to nurse an injured turtle back to health so you may release it back into the wild.

Can Turtle Shells Heal Itself?

The fact that turtle shells are composed of biological, organic, and natural elements gives them the capacity to recover by themselves if they get damaged.

The shattered bones in your arm will progressively join themselves back together, and in the same way, a turtle’s shells may mend by themselves.

Even though the shells have the ability to repair themselves, it is preferable not to ignore a damaged or fractured shell and hope that it would restore alone. even the tiniest of cracks may reveal your pet to potentially lethal infections, and this can ultimately lead to his death.

The application of antibiotics, followed by the closing of the crack using a specialized bonding substance, may be of assistance to the recovery process. this is something that vets can do in order to help the turtle heal.

It is simpler to repair minor breaks and splits than it is bigger or open wounds, but you should allow your vet to determine what to operate on. Even if it seems to be in pretty terrible shape, it may not be as big of a problem as you think it is.

Can A Turtle’s Shell Regenerate?

In contrast to hermit crabs, turtles are unable to exchange their shells for a new one in the event that the old one becomes too small or damaged. Since it develops together with the turtle, the casing never cracks or comes off, and it is never an unnaturally huge or tiny size.

It is linked to the inner skeleton of the turtle’s anatomy and is constructed out of the rib cage as well as the backbone of the turtle. The shell of a turtle changes size as it grows, much as our vertebrae do.

Shells that have been fractured often result from turtles being run over by automobiles or being attacked by other animals.

turtle shells can be repaired by vets using adhesive material, but the amazing thing about the turtle shell is that it can heal and renew over time since it is formed of living components.

The majority of turtle species are characterized by the gradual shedding or peeling away of the scutes that cover the shell as the animal and its shell continue to mature. This makes room for scutes to regenerate and become fresher and bigger.

Scutes are shed on a regular basis during activities like swimming and sunbathing and grow new scutes eventually, which is a normal part of the shedding process. Shedding occurs in the following ways:

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1. Basking:

It is impossible for turtles to regulate their body temperature without the need for external sources of heat and chill. The term “basking” refers to just resting in the sun, which occurs to be among the most beloved activities of turtles.

As a means of raising its internal temperatures, basking is an important part of turtle life because it enables them to remove their skin by drying out the molting scutes and grow new ones.

2. Assisted Peeling:

Some species of turtles, such as the South American river turtle, are known to assist one another in the shedding phase by using their jaws to peel loosened scutes and algae off of one another’s shells.

This is an example of social behavior. However, this must be done with caution due to the fact that the shell can feel both pressure and pain through the nerve ends that are present on the turtle’s shell.

To know more about how turtles feel through their shells click here.

What Happens If Turtle Shells Don’t Regenerate?

Turtle shells are susceptible to diseases and sickness if their old scutes are not removed appropriately or if they are shed too frequently as they can’t properly regrow the scutes on their shells.

Infection is something that may result from dysecdysis, which is a fancy name for aberrant scute discharge. On very limited occasions, scutes are lost at an excessive rate, which leaves the skeletons of the shell exposed and vulnerable to damage.

Excessive scute peeling has been connected to more serious issues. As scutes cannot regenerate due to excessive peeling, health issues, such as renal dysfunction can occur.

Why Do Turtle Shells Crack?

There are a variety of ways in which the shells of your turtle might get cracked. Cracks or breaks in their shell may occur for a variety of causes, among them:

1. Dropped

Even though the vast majority of individuals are cautious while managing turtles, mishaps may still place.

A turtle may get catastrophic injuries if it falls from any height, but the steeper the fall, the greater the risk of harm.

This occurs often due to the fact that the turtle moves about when you are carrying it. There are also situations when a youngster will accidentally drop the turtle. If your turtle falls onto a hard floor, such as cement or stone, there is a good chance that its shell may be damaged.

2. Dog Attacks

The vast majority of turtles held in captivity are housed among other animals, the majority of which are dogs despite their formidable biting abilities.

It’s possible that your dog may mistake one of your turtles for a toy if it discovers one of them on the lawn. Even pets who are just intending to interact with a turtle in a non-harmful way have the potential to hurt it, particularly if the game turns into real hostility.

Although turtles are famous for having tough shells, their shells are not completely impenetrable.

A powerful bite has the potential to cause harm to the shell, which might include scraping, fracturing, or even splitting it.

The shells of young turtles are already fragile, and turtles that have just recovered from sickness may also be susceptible to damage.

3. Shell Rot

This ailment, which may also be referred to as ulcerative shell disease, is brought on by bacteria. These bacteria might be present either inside the body of a turtle or in its surroundings, such as in polluted water.

The microorganisms will cause an infection in the vascular system found within the shell of the turtle.

It is possible for the scutes to break off if shell rot is not discovered and addressed in a timely manner. This would leave the turtle’s skeleton and nerves exposed.

It leaves turtles open to the risk of contracting diseases, suffering wounds, and possibly passing away.

Shell rot may cause fractures in the shell, but it can also form in fissures that are already present in the shell.

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In the event that your turtle is dropped, for instance, germs may invade the shell via the fractures and start to develop within. If your turtle is kept in a filthy habitat, there is an elevated risk that its shell may deteriorate.

4. Car Crash

According to research published in the Italian Journal of Zoology, the effects of injuries caused by humans are often more serious in turtles.

In captivity, lesions to the skeleton and fractures in the shell are frequently caused by machines and equipment, including automobiles and other agriculture machines.

If a turtle escapes its cage and makes its way out to the road, it runs the risk of being run over by a vehicle.

Even though the damage may just be superficial, such as scratching, the impact may nonetheless cause significant fissures in rare cases.

In the worst possible scenarios, it might cause the shell to break.

5. Soft Shell

Calcium deficiency causes soft shell (metabolic bone disease), a disorder that affects the bones. This condition almost always results in a fragile shell for the turtle, making it more prone to fractures and other types of damage.

As a result of its role in the absorption of calcium, vitamin D3 deficiency may generate shells that are fragile and easily broken.

Due to their rapid shell growth and higher calcium requirements, juvenile turtles are more likely to develop softshells.

How Do You Treat Turtle Shell Damage?

Fortunately, cracked or broken turtle shells can be treated to repair with just a little patience and care. The steps that you can follow to treat the damage to your turtle’s shell are given below:

1. Cleaning The Wound

If the injuries aren’t too severe, you should be capable of treating them at home on your own. You must cleanse the shell of your turtle if it has any blood or debris on it.

When cleaning the area, do it many times each day using a disinfectant liquid like diluted chlorhexidine or iodine. You are going to keep doing this treatment for the next seven days, or till all the impurities can be seen to have been removed from the injury.

Additionally to accelerating the recovery process altogether, maintaining cleanliness around the injury can aid in preventing secondary ailments like shell rot.

2. Keeping Them Dry

It is imperative that you keep your turtle completely dry till its shell has healed, even if it thrives in water.

The water that comes from their reservoir has the potential to encourage the growth of germs and dirt in the gaps.

3. Giving Antibiotics

Antibiotics will be necessary for your turtle if there are significant flaws or significant illnesses in the fractures.

Antibiotics such as Baytril and ceftazidime are administered by veterinarians and are among the most frequently used medications.

Antibiotics must be given to your turtle for a minimum of seven days if they are necessary. When the cracks start to heal, any infection that is still active will be left untreated. Your turtle will very certainly get quite unwell as a result of the illness that is “stuck” inside of it.

4. Fixing Large Cracks

Repairing significant holes or fissures in the shell should be delegated to an exotic vet since they are the only ones who have sufficient training and expertise in this area.

They might opt to repair the fracture in a variety of various ways, but the approach they use will mostly be determined by the placement of the break or fissures and the size of those cracks.

In order to keep the components firmly in order, some will require wiring, while others may just only a few zip-ties that are glued to the tip of the shell.

5. Applying Fiberglass Patch

In order to conceal any fissures or divots in the shell, patching made of fiberglass that is harmless for turtles will be applied.

This patching would have to have adhesive applied to it so that it may be attached to its shell. If you want the fiberglass overlay to remain adhered to the shell, you might have to apply many coatings of adhesive.

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6. Applying Resin

You may put the glue on their shell after it has been allowed to cure for a few days. By doing this, you will prevent moisture from entering the injury.

This is an essential process for marine turtles that may come into contact with water. Again, a few hours of curing on a clean surface is recommended after bonding the fiberglass in place.

7. Allowing To Dry

Your turtle must be totally dry before you may put it back in its habitat or transfer him into the wild.

To ensure that the resin is completely dry, give it approximately a week after applying it to the shells.

8. Returning Them to Normal

After they have been exposed to the air and have dried, you may put them back in their original habitat. It is important to know, that it may take their shell anywhere from a few months to years to entirely repair.

A new fiberglass patching and glue will likely be required if your turtle is still very immature. They will outgrow this coating in a matter of weeks or months at the most.

Always keep a close watch on your turtle to determine when it is appropriate to repeat the medication.

When you are applying a patch on your turtle, the most important thing to keep in mind is to avoid getting any adhesive or other substance into the injuries.

How Long It Takes For Broken Turtle Shells To Heal?

The growth of turtle shells is an extremely slow process, and it might take months, or even years, for a wound to heal completely.

Damages to the inner soft tissues often heal in two to three weeks, whereas fractures to the shell may easily take anywhere from four to eighteen months for becoming totally stable.

Can A Turtle Survive A Cracked Shell?

To our great relief, they can survive! Even while a cracked or fractured shell may not immediately spell death, it is a highly dangerous clinical condition that requires quick attention.

 If a turtle’s shell is broken or cracked, it indicates that the animal’s body has been exposed. It’s the equivalent of having a split in your fingernails or a cut on your body.

Leaving a wound like this neglected puts a person at risk of developing serious diseases. Shell ulcers are a potential consequence of irregularities in the skeleton, which may be caused by a deficiency in calcium, an inadequate amount of sunshine, or any number of disorders.

If your turtle has developed shell rot, you should be on the lookout for indicators of renal impairment, liver illness, and thyroid problems.

An injured turtle with big portions lost or organs protruding from the shell is typically doomed to a short life expectancy because of the high risk of infection.

It doesn’t matter how bad the damage seems on the surface, those shells are meant to safeguard their inside organs. They are not only inflicting harm to the organs inside of them, but also to the shells themselves, by breaking them.

Concluding Thoughts

Although the shells have the ability to heal themselves, it is preferable not to ignore a damaged or fractured shell and hope that it would repair by itself.

As was just pointed out, even the tiniest of fractures may lead your pet to potentially lethal infections, and this can ultimately lead to his death.

In some cases, it is advisable to leave this to your veterinarian, but in other cases, tiny fractures may be mended at home carefully by the method suggested above for repairing broken shells using a DIY method.

If the injuries are cleaned and sanitized, the recovery period will go forward much more quickly. Plaster can be put in the form of a momentary cast to shield the injury in the event that the shell has tiny breaks.

There is a good chance that you can assist the turtle to get well if you have patience and affection.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.

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