Cracked Turtle Shell

cracked turtle shell

The shell of a turtle is one of the most important parts of their anatomy. It acts as armor to protect their internal organs and bones from injury. Unfortunately, turtles’ shells often get cracked or damaged by predators’ attacks, accidents, or several other reasons. In this article, we will discuss ways you can help your turtle fix their cracked or damaged shell.

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Can a turtle live with a cracked shell?

Turtle shells are cracked for many reasons. The most common reason is an attack by a predator. This can cause small to large cracks in the shell. If the crack is not too severe, the turtle may be able to survive. However, if the crack is deep or goes all the way through the shell, it will likely be fatal.

Turtle shells can also be cracked from accidental injuries. For example, if a turtle falls from a height or is hit by a car, this can cause cracks in the shell. These types of accidents often result in fatal injuries for turtles.

In some cases, turtles may develop cracked shells due to health problems. This can be caused by a vitamin A deficiency or other problems. If you suspect that your turtle’s shell is cracked due to a health problem, you should take them to the vet for an examination.

Turtles often get infections from the cracked shell. Even if the shell crack is not severe, it will lead to bacterial infection if not treated properly. The infection can quickly spread to the turtle’s internal organs and cause death.

Depending on the severity of the crack, it may be possible to fix a cracked turtle shell. However, this is often not possible for deep or fatal cracks. If you have a turtle with a cracked shell, you should take them to the vet for an examination and treatment.

What happens if a turtle cracks its shell?

If a turtle’s shell cracks, it can be a very serious injury. The cracked shell can cause the turtle pain and make it more susceptible to infection. In some cases, the cracked shell can even penetrate the turtle’s body cavity and damage its internal organs. If the crack is severe enough, it can result in the death of the turtle.

Minor shell cracks can heal if they are treated properly. The first step is to clean the wound with warm water. You’ll then need to apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a sterile gauze pad. It’s important to keep the wound clean and dry during the healing process. Once the wound has healed, you can help your turtle’s shell to grow back stronger by giving it a diet rich in calcium.

For more serious cracks you need to consult an experienced veterinarian. They will help you determine the best course of treatment for your turtle. It is more likely that your turtle’s crack will be repaired by gluing the parts using a metal/plastic bridge. This will help to stabilize the cracked shell and allow it to heal.

If a turtle shell cracks will it die?

A cracked turtle shell does not necessarily mean the death of the turtle, however, it can be fatal depending on the severity. If the crack is big enough, it can puncture through their body and damage vital organs. Smaller cracks may not be as severe, but can still cause a lot of pain for the turtle.

The turtle shells are attached to their body in such a way that removing them will lead them to immense pain and eventually death. If the shells are still intact and the wound is not too deep then chances are very high that you can help the turtle heal.

Can turtle shells repair themselves?

The ability of the shell to heal depends on the severity and location of the cracked shell. If the crack is not too deep and is located on the outer layer of the scutes, then there is a higher chance that it will heal by itself. However, if the crack is deep and has reached the bone, then it will be difficult for the shell to repair itself.

Turtle shells are composed of bony elements covered by horny scutes. The scutes are keratinous and have a similar structure to human fingernails.

The scutes are attached to the underlying bone by a thin layer of tissue called the osteoderms. The osteoderms are what give turtles their unique ability to grow their shells back if they should happen to crack or break them.

While it is possible for a turtle’s shell to repair itself, it is not always the best course of action. If the crack is severe, it is best to take the turtle to a vet or specialist who can help ensure that the cracked shell heals properly.

How to fix a cracked turtle shell at home?

Turtle shells are very delicate and cracked turtle shells are very common. If your turtle’s shell is cracked, it is important to take action immediately as this can lead to infection or even death.

There are a few things you can do at home to help your turtle heal their cracked shell:

For minor cracks:

  • Clean the wound with warm water and soap. You can also use an antibacterial ointment if you have one.
  • Apply a bandage to the wound. Make sure the bandage is not too tight and that your turtle can still move freely.
  • Give your turtle plenty of rest and keep them in a warm, dry environment. This will help their shell heal faster.
  • Do not put the turtle in water as it will increase the risk of bacterial infection

For severe cracks (shattered shells, or shells with multiple cracks):

  • In serious cracks, you would need help from an experienced veterinarian as it might be required to use heavy-duty zip or metal or plastic bracket to support the cracked shell pieces together for it to heal.
  • The veterinarian will also give you tips on how to take care of your turtle during the healing process.
  • Turtle shells can take weeks or even months to heal so it is important to be patient and follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully.
  • If the injury has damaged the spinal cord or internal organs, your turtle might need rehabilitation.

Do not try to fix the cracked shell yourself as you might end up hurting your turtle more. If you are not sure how to proceed, it is always best to seek professional help.

How long will it take to heal cracked turtle shells?

Turtle shells can take a few weeks to several months to heal. The cracked shell needs time to grow back and harden. Depending on the severity of the crack, some cracks may not heal completely and may require surgery.

During this time, it is important to keep your turtle clean and dry. You would also need to apply an antibiotic ointment to the cracked area if recommended by your veterinarian.

Your turtle will also need extra calcium during this time. You can provide this by adding a calcium supplement to their diet or giving them a cuttlebone to chew on.

It is also important to watch for infection during this time. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pus, or any discharge from the cracked area. If you notice any of these signs, take your turtle to the veterinarian right away.

When to see a vet?

If the crack is severe, then you need to take your turtle to the vet. The vet will give your turtle a checkup and might even prescribe antibiotics if there is an infection. In such cases, the vet will use metal/plastic bridges and glued them on both sides of the cracked.

Before rushing towards the vet, you need to ensure if it’s a genuine crack or you are misinterpreting it. For that, you need to know about the three types of cracks that can occur in a turtle shell.

Superficial cracks

These cracks don’t go deep into the shell and are the most common type of crack. Superficial cracks are usually caused by predators’ attacks or falling from a height. These cracks don’t need any treatment and will eventually heal on their own.

Impact cracks or fracture

Impact fractures are caused by a direct blow to the shell, such as being hit by a car. Impact fractures can be either open or closed. An open fracture is when the shell is cracked and the bone is exposed. A closed fracture is when the shell is cracked but the bone is not exposed. Impact fractures need to be treated by a vet because they can cause serious infections.

Stress cracks or fracture

Stress fractures are caused by repetitive stress on the shell, such as from rubbing against a tank that is too small. Stress fractures can also be caused by a vitamin A deficiency. Stress fractures need to be treated by a vet because they can cause serious infections.

Things you should avoid at any cost

In today’s world where everything is available on YouTube, it’s easy to think you know everything. But some things are better left to the experts. Here are three things you should avoid doing when your turtle’s shell is cracked.

  • Don’t try to glue the shell yourself. Superglue or epoxy resin might seem like they will do the trick, but they can actually cause more harm than good. The chemicals in these adhesives can damage the shell and even lead to infection. If it comes in contact with an internal organ, it could be fatal.
  • Don’t put your turtle in a cast. Again, this might seem like it will help protect the cracked shell, but it can actually do more harm than good. A cast can restrict blood flow and cause pressure sores. It can also make it difficult for your turtle to breathe and eat.
  • Don’t try to fix the cracked shell yourself. This is a job for a qualified veterinarian. They will be able to assess the severity of the damage and determine the best course of treatment.

These are just a few things to avoid when your turtle’s shell is cracked. A cracked shell means your turtle is in intense pain and needs professional help. So, avoid doing any of the above and take your turtle to the vet as soon as possible.


In this article, we discussed cracked turtle shells and some methods you can use to help your turtle heal. While cracked turtle shells are not always fatal, they can be quite dangerous for turtles. If you notice your turtle has a cracked shell, we recommend taking them to the vet as soon as possible.