Can a Turtle Shell Repair Itself (Will a Damaged Shell Regrow)?

Yes! A turtle shell may be able to repair itself. However, their shells regenerate at a slow rate and the process could leave the turtle susceptible to other injuries or infections. 

Minor cracks that do not bleed can usually heal up in 2-4 months without any complications. More serious fractures can take as long as a year and a half to become stable. It would not be unusual to expect an extensive injury to take years to fully heal. This is especially true for turtles that have pieces of their shells missing.

Will a damaged shell regrow?

Turtles can actually regrow their shells in the event of a traumatic injury with the help of human intervention. Humans can help protect the turtle while they heal. 

Veterinarians would be able to clean and flush any open wounds and assess the turtle’s condition. They may place protective gauze or fiberglass patches over small, deep cracks that pose an infection risk. 

Veterinarians specializing in reptiles may be able to stabilize a broken shell to offer protection to the turtle’s internal organs. They have been known to create a sort of roll cage to surround domestic turtles during recovery, providing an additional form of protection. 

They will also be able to treat any potential infection with a course of antibiotics. It is important for a professional to assess serious issues in case there are other signs of more serious complications. Trying to treat these types of injuries on your own may cost the turtle its life. 

If you come across a turtle that appears injured and want to help them, you should do so carefully. If safe to do so, gently lift the turtle into a container with a lid (allow for airflow). 

Wild turtles may feel threatened when approaching and can pack a nasty bite. Be sure to avoid placing your hands near the head of the turtle when lifting. 

Also, leave any loose pieces of shell in place and avoid any added trauma. As turtles dwell in water, it would be ideal to place a damp cloth or towel in the bottom of the container. 

What could damage a turtle’s shell?

There are a number of issues that could cause damage to a turtle’s shell. Turtles can suffer from a condition that causes ulceration of their shells. 

Septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease (SCUD), commonly known as Shell rot, can cause damage to a turtle’s vital organs if not treated urgently. 

The condition is usually caused by bacteria that penetrate the shell through cracks caused by injury. Turtles with shell rot need to be seen by a reptile vet that will most likely prescribe a course of a topical antibiotic salve. 

Pyramiding is also another cause of shell issues. A turtle’s shell may feature raised sections, or scutes, that appear pyramid-like. Although these deformities may just look a bit odd, they also signify a more serious underlying problem that has to be addressed. 

Pyramiding occurs in captive turtles that usually signal an inappropriate diet or living environment. This condition may not be critical at first but can be dangerous if left unexplored and untreated.

In addition to health conditions, a turtle’s shell may be damaged through trauma that causes injury. Injuries such as cracks, chips, and missing parts of a turtle’s shell can vary in severity. 

Pet turtles can be injured by an overly-eager dog or be dropped from a great height when being moved. 

Turtle’s in the wild in populated areas are at increased risk of getting hit by cars. Why did the turtle cross the road? Probably to just get to the other side. Sadly, this type of accident is usually lethal.

Can a turtle with a damaged shell survive in the wild?

It is common for wild turtles to suffer attacks from predators that may lead to shell damage. As long as the damage is minor, the injured turtle should be able to survive. 

More serious injuries can lead to death through increased vulnerability to attack, infection, or excessive bleeding. Domestic turtles have a much higher chance of surviving injuries.

Not only would they be more likely to receive care for any issues, but they are also less likely to face dangerous shell-threatening situations. It is also easier to monitor domestic turtles for any signs of infection or internal bleeding.

What is a turtle’s shell made from?

Turtle shells are made of keratin. This is the same organic material that makes up our fingernails and hair. Formed from two pieces fused together, they offer a 360* method of protection. 

The oldest-known turtle was 255 years old. To get to that grand old age, you must be able to face most of what life throws your way, right? Turtles may not be the fastest or most ferocious animals around, but they are incredibly fortunate to have their shells. 

Think of a turtle’s shell like a shield. Although these shell shields are not invincible, they are an incredibly resilient bit of armor. 

How hard is a turtle’s shell?

It may seem that a turtle’s shell is super tough but believe it or not, a turtle can still feel pressure and pain. If you apply pressure to one of your nails, you can feel it. 

Think of someone hitting their nail with a hammer. They sure can feel that enough to know that it’s not too pleasant. The same rules apply to turtles. 

What’s more, a turtle’s shell is covered in nerves and connected to its blood supply. Because of this full-body connection, turtles cannot live without their shells. 

Turtle shells also consist of around 60 different bones. All of these factors mean that any injury to a turtle’s shell may cause pain and/or bleeding. 

It can take thousands of pounds of pressure to completely crush a turtle’s shell. The bite force from an alligator or crocodile, for example, would be able to break their shells.