How Much Is A Turtle Shell Worth?

upside down turtle peeking from shell

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

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Boy! Turtle shells are selling like hotcakes nowadays. People use them as home decor, jewelry, and whatnot. Trust me! They are ready to spend thousands for those pieces (Literally)! But are turtle shells really that costly?

Turtle shell prices range from $5 to $12000. The rate can go higher. Usually, the cost of the shell depends on the species it belongs to and its antique value. The vintage sea turtle shells are the most expensive. However, trading turtle shells is illegal in many regions, and it is ethically incorrect.

Why are turtle shells in demand? Can you sell a turtle shell? Let’s know the details.

Key Takeaways

  • Turtle shell price can cross $12000.
  • Hawksbill sea turtle shells are the most popular because of their texture and color.
  • CITES has banned the international trade of any turtle shell and goods.

Turtle Shell Price Is Not Constant

You can buy a turtle shell for just $5. The rate can go all the way up to $12000, and sometimes it might cost you even more.

How does the seller decide the price of a turtle shell? Well, they consider several questions before stamping the rate. Such as,

  • How big is the shell?
  • Which species does the shell belong to?
  • How old is the shell?
  • What condition is the shell in?
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It is very clear that the bigger the shells, the more it will cost (Not always). Likewise, the older shells have an antique value. Thus, they are more expensive.

Furthermore, red eared sliders, map turtles, mud turtles, etc., are quite common in the market. Their shells are available at a lower price. But shells of snapping turtles and species that are hard to raise sell at a high rate.

Finally, the condition of the shell also matters.

If you are selling a raw shell, buyers will not be interested. Polishing the surfaces and coating them with shiny resins often attracts eyes. That way, sellers charge more for the shells.

Estimated rates of an average quality turtle shell are,

Turtle SpeciesEstimated Price
Pond Sliders (Red Eared Sliders/ Yellow Bellied Sliders)$5 – $60++
Snapping Turtle$19 – $125++
Map Turtle$7 – $100++
Mud Turtle$20 – $45++
Musk Turtle$10 – $30++
Painted TurtleMore than $100
Small Hawksbill Sea Turtle$200 – $650++
Antique Hawksbill Sea TurtleAround $12000

Wait! There are more than just the shells on sale.

People have made a business out of turtle heads, tails, and feet, too. Turtle bones are also in demand.

I was shocked to see a real turtle skeleton on the showcase. The shops often flex on these pieces.

The most expensive turtle items will be the Taxidermies. Most of the antique stores sell life-size turtles. Once, I encountered a loggerhead sea turtle taxidermy. Its cost was over $35000.

What’s The Deal with The Turtle Shell?

I know what you are thinking. Why in the hell are people buying turtle shells? Well, mostly for aesthetic reasons.

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You can hang turtle shells on the walls or keep them in a glass case. The décor will add a sophisticated vibe to your collection anyway. Lamps and mirrors using turtle shells have gained quite a lot of popularity. I believe collectors treat the shells as a royal souvenir, if nothing else.

Turtle shells become malleable when heated, allowing you to mold them in any shape. No wonder the jewelry industry has its eyes on the shells. Nowadays, rings, combs, bracelets, bangles, hair bands, mirrors, etc., made of turtle shells are available.

Our musician friends often buy turtle shell picks for their collections. Guitars and musical instruments made of turtle shells catch lots of eyes.

Turtle bones have also captured a market. In many regions, people believe that these reptile bones can cure diseases. So, they collect the bones to produce medicine.

Aren’t Turtle Shells Illegal to Sell?

That’s right. In 1977, the CITES Convention banned any International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Animals. This law strictly discourages anyone from trading endangered species, including their shells, horns, bones, etc.

Sadly enough, people have no respect for this law, and they use a loophole to get away. One section declares that turtle shells and goods are tradeable if the manufacturing dates back before 1947. So, whenever law enforcement officers bust any seller, he just tags his products as antiques.

Our officers do not have enough time to carbon test every good. As a result, there is no stopping this business.

The black market guys are the worst. They catch the wild species, kill them, and collect their shells. Next, they either sell the shells at a good price or make combs, rings, and guitar picks out of them.

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Unfortunately, these heinous businessmen haven’t spared the marine turtles either. Hawksbill sea turtle shells are always in demand because of their shine and color. So, illegal harvesting and hunting down these sea turtles is common practice in coastal regions.

Because of such cruelty, the hawksbill sea turtle population is in decline now.

The wildlife organizations passed another law in 2018 to stop the poaching and exploitation of this species. They have already managed to fine store owners under this law.

Can I Sell My Turtle Shell?

I collect the shells of my dead turtles and keep them as a memory. But never for once have I posted them for sale.

See, trading turtle shells is illegal in many states and countries. If you are caught doing the business, you will be punished.

I know most people do not give a damn to this law. So why should you?

I would say do it for the turtles. If you love these little guys, stop trading shells, eggs, or anything. Not only that, but tell your friends and family to boycott any turtle shell goods. This will lower the demand and save the species from extinction.

Before You Go

The extinction of an entire species is not good news for humankind. The event will throw the ecosystem off the balance, which will directly or indirectly affect our lives. Read the article below to learn more about endangered turtle species.

Which Sea Turtles Are Endangered? [7 Comprehensive List]

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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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