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Are Turtles Born With Shells? Turtle Shells Facts

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Turtles are reptiles that live both in water and on land. They have a shell that protects them from predators and provides protection against harsh weather conditions.

Some species even have a hard outer shell that they shed every year.

Are turtles born with shells

Turtles are very interesting creatures. Their shells are unique because they are composed of two parts: the upper part is called the carapace, and the lower part is called the plastron.

The carapace is usually brownish-gray in color and has ridges along its surface. The plastron is white and has a concave shape. Turtle shells are fascinating because they are formed through natural processes.

Scientists believe that turtles evolved their shells over time. They also found out that not all turtles have shells. Some species, such as tortoises, terrapins, and lizards, do not have shells.

Scientists speculate that these animals may have lost their shells due to evolution.

We find out if turtles are born with their shells, and we answer all your important turtle shell questions.

Do Newborn Turtles Have Shells?

Yes, turtles are born with shells. They grow them and shed them as they mature, but they don’t have to be born with a shell.

Some turtles do not have any kind of shell at all, while others have very small ones. The size of the turtle’s shell depends on how much it eats during its lifetime.

When turtles eat more food, they grow larger shells. This process can take up to 10 years for an adult turtle.

How Do Turtles Shed Their Shells?

When turtles shed their shells, they use special glands located under their tails. These glands produce an oil that helps loosen the old shell.
This process takes about one month for most species. In some cases, however, it can take longer than this.

What Are Turtle Shells Made Of?

Turtle and tortoise shells are made of calcium carbonate. It’s a mineral compound that is present in many rocks.

Calcium carbonate is also used to make things like toothpaste and soap. You can also find it in some foods.

Scientists discovered that when you chew your food, you’re breaking down calcium carbonate into smaller particles.

Why Is Turtle Shell So Hard?

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Turtle shells are extremely strong because they contain high levels of calcium carbonate.

Calcium carbonates are minerals that form naturally in the Earth’s crust. When they combine, they create an incredibly tough material.
It’s estimated that the average turtle shell weighs between 1/3 and 1/2 pounds. This makes it stronger than steel.

How Does A Turtle Grow A Shell?

A turtle grows its shell by depositing layers of calcium carbonate. As it does so, it forms a protective layer around itself.

A turtle’s food plays a significant role in building a shell. Just like human fingernails, turtle shells grow thicker when they consume certain minerals and vitamins.

The thickness of the shell increases until it reaches the desired level.

Do Turtles Change Their Shells?

No, turtles are born with one shell, and they keep this for life. However, some turtles do shed some shell layers and form new ones.

For example, sea turtles shed their shells every year or two. This allows them to grow bigger shells.

However, some turtles lose their entire shells after reaching adulthood. For instance, leatherback turtles lose their shells once they reach maturity.

What Would Happen If You Removed The Shell From A Turtle?

Removing a turtle’s shell would cause it pain and discomfort. The animal would try to protect itself from injury by biting.

You should not force your pet turtle to come out of its shell. The shell is part of the turtle’s body, so removing it would cause serious pain and damage.

If you were able to remove a turtle’s shell, it would die within 24 hours.

Unlike some snails, turtles cannot come out of their shells with their soft bodies. They can only poke their limbs and head out through the top of their shell.

You should never try to open a shell because the two parts of the shell are essentially part of the turtle’s exoskeleton, and they are held together with strong muscles.

Applying force in this way would hurt the turtle.

Do Turtles Die When Their Shell Is Cracked?

Map turtle with cracked shell basking in the sun

A turtle lives for approximately 50 years. However, there are different types of turtles with different lifespans.

For example, sea turtles live for around 100 years. On the other hand, freshwater turtles only live for 25 years.

Turtles die only if they lose too much blood or they die of old age. Similar to our wound healing abilities, if they get injured, they will try to heal themselves by using their body fluids.

However, they will eventually bleed to death if they cannot repair the damage or the injuries are too big.

How Long Can A Turtle Live Without Its Shell?

Turtles can survive without their shells for several months. However, they need them to breathe properly and as protection.

If they lose their shells, they may suffocate or risk being captured by predators.

Is There Any Way To Give Turtles Shells Back?

Some people believe that if you put a turtle in saltwater, it will regrow its shell. However, this is likely, not true.

Some medications claim to help restore lost shells. However, none of these have been proven effective.

So far, no scientific studies have shown any evidence that turtles can regrow a lost shell.

Terrapin on a rock

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute turtle questions answered below!

Do Turtles Like Their Shells Scratched?

Yes, most turtles enjoy having their shells scratched. It feels good to them. This is because they have nerve endings in their shell and these nerves sense touch.

What Happens If You Put Your Finger Inside Of A Turtle’s Shell?

Most turtle species as pets don’t mind if you touch their shells. However, as the inside of a turtle shell is its sensitive body, a turtle may feel threatened and bite.

Can You Buy Turtle-Shells?

Real turtle shells are banned in most countries around the world. However, you may be able to buy products that look like turtle shells.

These are usually part of jewelry, key chains, necklaces, pendants, and others.

What’s Inside A Turtle Shell?

A turtle’s shell is the hard outer covering that protects its soft body.

The shell can be made from calcium carbonate, which is found in limestone and coral reefs. It is also possible for turtles to make their shells by absorbing minerals through their skin.

However, most turtles are born with a fully formed shell, and they do not grow new ones as adults.

Are Turtle-Shells Bulletproof?

No, turtle shells are not bulletproof. They provide little defense against bullets. They are only more resistant to small cuts and scratches than human skin.

Turtle shells have sensitive nerves, and they even contain blood and bones, so any damage to the turtle’s shell will result in pain and possible death of the animal.

Can Turtles Feel Their Shell?

Yes, turtles can feel their shells. Land turtles, as well as aquatic turtles, use their shells to identify each other and communicate.

They use their shells to scratch when they want to mark territory or when they are feeling stressed.

When a turtle wants to mate, he uses his shell to dig into the ground to create a nest. He then covers himself with sand and leaves.


Turtles are fascinating animals. They live on land and water, and they are known to be very intelligent. The fact that they are reptiles makes them different from mammals.

Their shells protect them from many dangers, such as cold weather, predators, and parasites. They are also very affectionate animals, and they love to play with humans.

However, there are still many things about turtles that we do not know. We hope that this article has answered your questions about turtles and their shells.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.