How To Clean A Turtle’s Shell Easily?

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

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If you’ve never had a turtle before, you may not know that they need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Algae accumulation on the shells of aquatic turtles needs regular cleaning. Keep your turtle clean, and it will live a longer, healthier life. But how do you clean the turtle’s shell?

Depending on whether you’re cleaning a turtle or a tortoise, the cleaning techniques will be different. If your turtle has developed algae on its shell, is shedding, or has accumulated dirt and debris on its body, it is time to give it a bath.

In general, cleaning a turtle or tortoise shouldn’t be necessary too frequently, but how often you should do it will vary for the individual. Cleaning a turtle shell is a necessary skill for anybody who keeps or owns turtles.

In this piece, I’ll go over everything you need to know to properly care for your turtle’s shell. So let’s find out how often and what kind of cleaning your turtles need based on their species and environment.

How To Clean A Turtle’s Shell Step By Step?

Turtles that live in the water as opposed to tortoises may do fine without frequent cleanings such as baths.

But a thorough cleaning can keep the shell free of algae and get rid of dead skin cells. It may also be necessary to clean the shell if the turtle has a skin disease or shell rot.

Look for areas of dry patches on the legs, tail, and neck to determine whether our turtle is shedding. Aside from these cases, shell cleaning for your aquatic turtle is unnecessary.

The things you will need:

  • A container for giving the turtle a bath.
  • source of water that is neither hot nor cold, but is instead lukewarm, often after being boiled and chilled or treated with a water conditioner for at least 24 hours.
  • ZooMed Reptisafe Reptile Water Conditioner and similar reptile water conditioners are available for purchase.
  • In this case, we have a small, soft brush that was likely a toothbrush that had been used once but was then discarded.
  • Something to measure out the water, like a cup or scoop

Invest in a turtle-sized plastic tub and use it only for washing your reptile. Take care not to reuse the container. Because turtles may spread salmonella, the plastic tank should be used for your pet alone.

Additionally, you shouldn’t use the bathroom or kitchen sink to clean the turtle’s shell. Basically, anything that’s big enough to hold the turtle will do, whether it’s a bathtub, a plastic bucket, or anything else.

It is common practice among turtle caretakers to have a special bowl or dish for turtle food. The turtle’s shell may be scrubbed clean with the help of this container.

Brushes used in conjunction with the bathtub should be dedicated completely to the task of washing your turtle’s shell.

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Here are the simple instructions you need to clean your turtle’s shell:

Step 1: Pour Water Into The Container

  • Prepare tepid bath water. A turtle can only swim in water that is at normal temperature, has been dechlorinated, and is deep enough for it to submerge completely.

Step 2: Clean The Shell With A Toothbrush

  • Use a toothbrush with moistened bristles to scrape the carapace, eliminating algae and grime. The plastron should then be scrubbed clean.
  • Don’t scrub too harshly or you’ll damage the plastron.
  • Cleaning between the scutes is very important since that’s where dirt and algae are most likely to accumulate.
  • If you don’t want to damage the turtle, don’t clean too vigorously. Keep in mind that the shell of a turtle has nerve endings that register pain.
  • After the carapace has been cleaned, you may go on to the turtle’s head, neck, legs, and tail. Proceed with caution, since certain areas of the body are not as well-defended as the shell.
  • To avoid having your turtle eat harmful chemicals, avoid using soap or polish. Damage to health or physical harm may result.

Step 3: Look for any abnormalities or injuries on the turtle.

  • Maintain a sharp eye out for injuries or illness while you clean the turtle. Checking up on your turtle at the cleanup time is a great idea.
  • You should keep an eye out for any of the following: cracks in the shell, cuts, and bruises, shell pyramiding, frothy mouth or/and nose, discolored patches on the shell, swelling, swollen/sunken eyes and ears.
  • Have your turtle checked by a specialist in herp medicine if you see any of these symptoms.

Step 4: Put the turtle back in its container.

  • After giving your turtle a good washing, it’s time to give it a last rinse in some clean, dechlorinated water.
  • You may also use this time to tidy up the cage. This is a good time to put the turtle back in its tank.

Step 5: Dispose of the Bathtub Water the Right Way

  • Because salmonella is not a bacterium that should be played with, you need to make sure that the water that was used to wash the turtle is appropriately disposed of away.
  • The water may be flushed away in a toilet. Must not drain the water in the dishwasher, washing machine, or bathtub.

Step 6: Ensure a Thorough Cleanup Following Bath

  • Before putting it away, sanitize it with an antibacterial cleanser or a bleach and water mixture.
  • The toothbrush may be thrown away or boiled to kill any bacteria.
  • Finally, once you’re through, be sure to wash your hands completely.

How Do You Make A Turtle Shell Shiny?

The owners of turtles may sometimes desire to polish their pets’ shells. If your turtle’s shell is shiny all over, it’s a good sign that you’re providing a healthy environment for it.

Keeping the turtle’s shell clean and free of debris is a crucial element of being a turtle owner since this helps prevent health concerns from going unnoticed.

Additionally, an overabundance of germs can cause shell rot. It is essential, however, that you cleanse your turtle’s carapace in a manner that is both hygienic and compassionate.

Since your turtle’s shell contains nerve endings, scrubbing it too roughly might give it discomfort or stress. It is imperative that nothing but water be applied to the shell of your turtle.

Your turtle’s shell will be damaged and it might become sick if you put anything on it with other items specifically formulated for turtles or those suggested by a veterinarian.

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It’s tempting for many owners to resort to using baby shampoo or oil. We caution against using infant shampoo unless specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian due to the presence of potentially harmful substances in certain brands.

When washing your turtle, you should also avoid using oils as a lubricant. As the oil accumulates on the shell, it blocks openings and poses a major threat towards the turtle’s wellbeing.

The best way to clean your turtle’s shell is with some classic water and a brush. Remember that the carapace or cuticle may be very delicate in certain places, and treat them with care when you clean them.

How To Remove Algae From Turtle Shells?

In the wild, it is not uncommon for a turtle to develop a thin film of algae on its shell. Algae shouldn’t be a problem on your turtle’s shell if you keep it in an indoor aquarium.

A trace amount of the substance in your aquarium’ is fine, but its presence usually indicates a more serious issue.

In most cases, you’ll encounter one of two species of algae, and the latter is the more problematic of the two.

  1. Gross, long, fibrous, and slimy algae.
  2. Algae that looks like a velvety green carpet.

The first category is a warning sign. Something Extremely Incorrect with your aquarium is being signaled here. This is a common indication that:

  • There’s a problem with the temperature of the water (or possibly cold).
  • Insufficient filtering is used in the water supply.
  • The water in the tank isn’t going through its normal biological cycle.

The first task to complete is to clean the algae off of your turtle’s carapace with some damp cloth.

The last half of caring for your turtle is giving it a wash and a light scrub, both of which can be accomplished with relative ease and efficiency using the aforementioned six steps.

It is also very important to regularly clean the enclosure and use a robust water filtration system in your turtles’ habitat to prevent algae growth.

Can Vinegar Be Used On The Turtle’s Shell?

There are many techniques for caring for a turtle’s shell.  Simple soap and water are one option.

The shell may also be cleaned with a mix of vinegar and water. To clean the turtle shell with vinegar, you must use vinegar that has been diluted with water.

To disinfect a turtle enclosure, vinegar may be used as an alternative. As a mild acid, vinegar may aid in the tank’s cleaning process.

If you use vinegar to clean your tank, be sure to give it a thorough rinsing afterward to remove any residue.

How Often Should A Turtle’s Shell Be Cleaned?

Sea turtles and other aquatic turtles spend the vast part of their lives submerged in water and seldom need a special wash provided their aquariums are maintained clean.

It’s not necessary to clean your turtle every day, but if you see algae growing on its exterior or if it’s shedding, it could be a good idea to give it a bath.

You can see crusty areas of skin on your turtle’s neck, tail, or limbs if it is losing its skin. Nothing unusual here.

However, excessive shedding might be an indication of an issue with either the turtle’s tank or its health, so it’s best to check in with your vet if you see this behavior.

How To Clean A Tortoise shell?

Due to their terrestrial lifestyle, tortoises are more prone to have soil and other debris adhered to their shells than marine turtles.

Cleaning them once every few weeks or twice a month when you see an accumulation of filth on the shells will help enhance the health of their carapace.

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Bathing them can prevent them from getting overheated. The same evidence suggests that it may also encourage bowel movements.

The same supplies, which have previously been mentioned for a turtle are required for a tortoise.

Defecation and Bathing of Tortoises

When tortoises reach a bathing area, the warm water often triggers them to defecate.

Before giving them a full bath, it’s best to let them a few minutes to play in the water to check whether they need to defecate.

When that happens, you may start the bath once you remove the poop.

Steps to Clean a Tortoise Shell

When compared to washing a marine turtle, the technique for cleaning a tortoise is not too dissimilar.

  • Place the tortoise in the water container and use a cup to gently pour water over the turtle’s shell.
  • Make soft, circular motions with the brush on their shell. The plastron may then be cleaned by gently lifting them at an angle.
  • As soon as the shell is free of debris, rinse it with a couple of hefty helpings of water.

The Ideal Tortoise-Bathing Water Level

A tortoise, in contrast to a marine turtle, is not at home in the water. It is important for a tortoise to be capable of keeping its legs on the surface at all times, thus the bucket should be filled no more than halfway. In addition, you shouldn’t get water into their eyes or on their face.

How Can You Maintain A Healthy Turtle Shell?

Preventative maintenance and good rearing techniques are 90% of the fight in maintaining a healthy shell and a happy turtle.

There are a lot of shell remedies on the market that you can get online or at pet stores, but I do not suggest any of them. These remedies address just the symptoms, not the underlying issue.

According to my research, several of these ointments or gels are really rather Unsafe since they prevent the germs from escaping from the shell.

What you should do instead is:

  • Take care to maintain a clean aquarium and fresh tank water.
  • Keep the water flowing, clean, and free of algae development by using a powerful filtration system.
  • The filtration system should ideally include mechanical, biological, and chemical filtering methods.
  • Renew your UV bulb at least once a year.
  • Keep a dry part of the dock heated to between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so turtles may bask in the sun.

As the last recommendation, I would suggest giving your turtle a weekly serving of Hikari Koi pellets to improve the health of its shell.

These are meant to be used in addition to your regular pellets rather than as a substitute for them.

They are fantastic for the shell of your turtle and will aid in keeping it shiny and spotless. They are rich in beneficial nutrients, notably vitamin E.

Closing Remarks

There are several advantages to keeping a turtle’s shell clean, thus it’s important to do it often. Since they spend so much time submerged, turtles need less frequent grooming than tortoises.

Do not put soap on the turtle’s shell since it might be toxic to the turtle if ingested. It is helpful to clean the turtle’s shell periodically to prevent the development of dirt and algae.

A well-cleaned turtle will shed its skin with ease. In addition, if the turtle has an unpleasant odor, keeping it clean will help eliminate it. Maintenance of the whole enclosure should be a priority as well.

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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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