How Strong Is A Turtle Shell?

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Turtles are a common sight in parks and backyards, but many people don’t know much about these creatures beyond the fact that they have hard shells.

Turtles actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with some having harder shells than others. Those that do have hard shells are quite durable and impenetrable for predators to penetrate.

What is the maximum amount of pressure a turtle shell can withstand? Turtles have a reinforced shell that can endure up to 200 times their weight. This means that a turtle shell can withstand thousands of pounds worth of pressure which makes it stronger than aluminum.

It’s been determined that an aquatic turtle shell of about 8 inches in length and 3/16 in thickness can endure up to 620 pounds of weight before it fractures, according to people who have tested with shells from long-deceased turtles.

The hardness of a material is a measure of how resistant it is to being deformed when force is applied. Turtles can have either a soft or hard shell. Hard-shelled turtles have a softer layer of keratin and collagen that serves as a shock absorber, cushioning the hard bony layer underneath.

Why Do Turtles Have Hard Shells?

Turtles have hard shells because they need to keep their insides safe, and their insides are what keep them alive. The lungs of the turtle sit at the top of the shell while hips and shoulders for example are entirely within the turtle’s shell, making them the only land animal on Earth with this feature.

They began as huge rib bones and evolved from there. The bulky, hefty armor they wear makes them sluggish, but they don’t need to be quick when they’ve got a hard shell surrounding them.

While all turtles have some type of shell, not all of them have hard shells. Turtles that live in water have softer shells, whereas those that dwell on land have sturdier shells.

The reason for this difference is that water provides greater protection than air, thus the shell of an aquatic turtle must be hydrodynamic for them to swim efficiently.

Why Do Some Turtles Have Soft Shells?

As we mentioned before, turtles that live in water tend to have softer shells than those that live on land. The reason for this is that water provides more protection than air does.

Turtles that live in water don’t need to worry about predators as much, so they don’t need such hard shells.

That is to say, there are aquatic turtles with tougher shells than others, such as the red-eared slider shell being less hard than a musk turtle shell. The distinction is that the red-eared slider has superior swimming ability and better buoyancy control than the musk or mud turtles, which have dome-like shapes and spend more time at the bottom of the water.

Another example is the softshell turtle that has a soft, leathery shell that helps it to move through the water quickly. These turtles also have long necks that they can use to reach food in the water and tend to grow larger for their lack of harder shells.

In contrast to the softshell turtle, we also have the alligator snapping turtle which has a very thick and strong shell with three dorsal ridges of large scales.

Turtles that live on land, however, need to be able to protect themselves from predators and the elements. That’s why they have harder shells.

RELATED READ: Snapping Turtle Care

Are Turtle-Shells Attached To Their Bodies?

inside of a turtle shell

A turtle shell is as much a part of its body as our rib cage is of ours, in fact, it is its ribcage, spine, vertebrae, and sternum.

Basically what it means is that a turtle’s skeleton is inside out. Just like you can’t take a skeleton out of a person, you can’t make a turtle out of its shell either.

If you could, you’d definitely be surprised by what you will discover.

How Does a Turtle’s Shell Protect It?

A turtle’s shell is made up of two parts: the carapace and the plastron. The carapace is the top part of the shell and is made up of bone, cartilage, and keratin.

The plastron is the bottom part of the shell and is also made up of bone, cartilage, and keratin. The shell of a turtle is important because it protects the turtle from predators and helps to keep it warm.

The shell also helps the turtle to float in water and to move on land.

Are Turtle-Shells Bulletproof?

While a turtle’s shell can protect it from predators, it is not bulletproof. In fact, a turtle’s shell can actually be very fragile depending on the turtle species and age.

Turtles have a hard outer shell composed of bones and contain blood vessels. Even if the bullet doesn’t penetrate the shell, the turtle will suffer great agony. The turtle might die from bleeding after being shot.

The damage caused by bullets varies based on the substance pierced. They may penetrate even the toughest materials at high speeds.

Can A Hammer Break A Turtle Shell?

Of course, a hammer can break a turtle shell, but who will do that in the first place. We all know that a turtle’s shell is very tough, but it is not indestructible.

There are many ways to break a turtle shell but it would be inhumane to do it.

Can A Car Crush A Turtle Shell?

turtle on road

Yes, they would certainly perish as a result of the collision. The shell isn’t simply a cover or a container for turtles; it’s also part of their body, making it a carapace.

The turtle’s shell would crack or break but the most damage will be inside the turtle. That’s why it’s important for turtles to hide in their shells when they feel threatened.

Some people have said that a car traveling at around 50 mph will shoot it vertically into the air at about 3 feet high, land on the ground road pavement bouncing a few times, splitting the turtle shell into two parts, and instantaneously killing it.

RELATED READ: Can Turtles Climb?

Who Has A Harder Shell? Turtle Or Tortoise?

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think.

Tortoises are land-dwelling turtles that have heavy, thick shells. The thickness of their shell protects them from predators and the elements.

Turtles, on the other hand, can live in both water and on land. Their shells are not as thick as tortoises’ shells, but they are more hydrodynamic which allows them to swim better.

Some turtles, such as the alligator snapping turtle, have thicker and harder shells than tortoises.

Finally, the answer to the question of which turtle has a tougher shell – a tortoise or a turtle – is species-dependent.

What Is The Hard Shell Of A Turtle Called?

The hard shell of a turtle is called the carapace. The carapace is made up of bone, cartilage, and keratin. The carapace is the top part of the shell and is important because it protects the turtle from predators and helps to keep it warm.

The carapace also helps the turtle to float in water and to move on land.

Can Turtles Feel You Pet Their Shell?

Yes, turtles can feel you pet their shell. The shell of a turtle is covered in nerve endings, which means that the turtle can feel when you touch it.

However, turtles don’t have the same type of skin that we do, so they might not enjoy being petted in the same way that we do.

Some turtles might even be afraid of being touched because they think you are going to hurt them.

RELATED READ: How To Clean A Turtle Shell

Which Animals Can Break A Turtle’s Shell?

  • Alligators or crocodiles – Alligators and crocodiles are some of the biggest predators of turtles. They will eat all types of turtles, including softshell turtles and snapping turtles.
  • Bears – Bears consume freshwater turtles as well.
  • Birds of prey – Hawks, eagles, and owls are known to consume turtles by flying up high and dropping them from high altitudes just so they can shatter the turtle shell.
  • Honey badgers – Honey badgers are known to eat small turtles, such as painted turtles and red-eared sliders.
  • Whales and sharks – Whales and sharks are the most common animals that can break a sea turtle’s shell. Tiger sharks are a frequent predator of sea turtles, while killer whales frequently consume leatherback turtles. Sea turtles have softer shells as a result their shells had to be more flexible underwater.


Turtles have a shell that is designed to protect them from predators and the elements, but it’s not indestructible.

The carapace is made up of bone, cartilage, and keratin which makes it tough but vulnerable to breaking.

There are many ways to break a turtle shell, but the most common is being eaten by a predator, being hit by a car, or being dropped from a great height.