A turtle’s shell is not only its armor but also part of its skeleton and it’s made up of more than 60 bones that are fused. The shell grows with the turtle and is shed a few times a year.
If a turtle’s shell is damaged, it can repair itself and the first step is for the turtle to shed its old shell. New bone cells will begin to grow and the shell will start to harden. The process can take up to two years, but the turtle’s shell will be as good as new.
A turtle’s shell can also be repaired with surgery. This is usually done if the shell is severely damaged or if there is a hole in the shell. A surgeon will stitch the bones together and the shell will heal over time.
Will A Damaged Turtle Shell Heal?
Keratin, membranes, and muscles are used to make shells. As a result, they can heal themselves adequately. A turtle’s shell can regenerate and remodel after a certain amount of time in the same way that our fractured arms and legs can be healed.
A shell, on the other hand, can only heal or regenerate up to a certain point. If a crack or hole in the shell exposes internal organs, it will just grow somewhat erratically to fill it in. But it never looks exactly like the original shell.
When the shell is damaged, the body sends out distinctive messages instructing particular cells to migrate to the wounded region and form blood clots that protect the area.
The tissue that makes up the shell, called keratin, grows in a specific direction and at a certain rate which can speed up or slow down the healing process.
How Do You Fix a Cracked Turtle Shell At Home?
If you ever find yourself in a position where you have to repair your turtle shell on your own, there are some steps that you can take.
However, I would highly advise against it. Only if there is no veterinarian nearby should you attempt to mend your turtle shell at home.
But keep in mind that by doing so you could expose the turtle to more danger than it was initially.
As soon as the veterinarian is available, seek expert care, but in the meantime here are a few tips to treat your turtle shell:
1. Clean The Wound
Fresh wounds are frequently not infected, although they will be contaminated. To avoid infection, these should be fully flushed and cleansed with a sterile saline solution and healed as soon as feasible to prevent infection.
On the other hand, wounds that have been open for over an hour will be surely infected. Both systemic antimicrobials and medicated bandages are required for the treatment of shell fractures that have been infected. The bandages should be changed at least once every four hours until the wound starts healing.
We recommend a one-hour swim twice daily during this process to maintain proper hydration and nutrition.
RELATED READ: How To Clean A Turtle Shell
2. Fix Cracks With A Bridge
Epoxy resin and fiberglass mesh are the most commonly used products for fracture repair. Clear epoxy is usually the best choice, but it can be tinted to match the shell if needed.
Fiberglass mesh patches should be oval or round in shape to prevent them from unraveling and puckering at the edges. Prior to usage, the mesh should be steamed or gassed.
The best way to fix a turtle shell is by using epoxy resin and hardener. Mix them together one to one, and then put it on the outside of the shell on both sides of the crack. Make sure it is hardened before you put the mesh patch over it. If the mixture is too runny, it will leak between the mesh strands.
But if you wait too long, the mesh won’t stick to it. Hold the shell fragments together while the epoxy hardens.
Be careful when you fix the broken part and don’t let the resin drip inside the wound. You usually only need one layer of mesh.
If you add more layers, you should sand the surface before each application. For turtles, put a final coat of marine resin on the second or third day. This will let the turtle stay in water during healing.
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3. Provide Antibiotics
An infected turtle should be given antibiotics such as Tylosin or Baytril to prevent the infection from spreading and to keep the turtle clean. The vet may prescribe these antibidiotics for this reason, as well as to help cure the condition.
For a better treatment of the turtle, an antibiotic should be administered with the doctor’s prescription, as well as when and how long to administer it.
4. Increase The Temperature
The turtle’s immune system will be strengthened by warm temperatures. It will also aid in the development of germs and pathogens.
We advise that you keep the temperatures somewhere between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Give Time To Heal
Turtles’ shells heal slowly but completely, and turtles have been observed in the wild with visible scars from prior shell fractures. Within one to two years, shell flaws will generally be bridged.
However, there is a chance that large defects will never completely fill in. As long as the patch remains intact, the turtle should be fine.
If the patch is on an adult turtle, it can be left indefinitely. If the patch is on a juvenile turtle, it must be removed after six months.
Turtles should not be allowed to hibernate during shell healing.
RELATED READ: How Strong Is A Turtle Shell?
Bring The Turtle To A Veterinarian
If your turtle has a wounded shell with punctures, don’t wait for it to get better on its own. Take him to the vet and ask for medical help.
Sometimes, even the smallest bacteria can cause big problems. For severe cases like puncture wounds from a bite and unstopped bleeding, you need to take your turtle to the vet right away.
Shell fractures can be a serious injury for turtles, and require prompt treatment to prevent infection and further damage.
Epoxy resin and fiberglass mesh are the most commonly used products for fracture repair, but antibiotics may also be necessary to treat an infected wound.
With proper care, turtles’ shells will heal slowly but completely, although there is always a chance that large defects will never fill in completely.