My pet turtles shed shells

I wrote about turtle shell shedding in a previous blog post, pet turtle shell shedding.

Oh yeah. Shell shedding is completely normal and natural for pet turtles. It’s a sign of good health. It means they are eating properly and have the proper turtle habitat in terms of having a completely dry basking area (in addition to a totally wet swimming area).

My pet turtles have been shedding their shells

The reason for that is that my turtles, my male pet turtle in particular – Rex, has been shedding a lot of his shell lately.

Both my pet turtles have been shedding their shells for months now. Usually I find small bits and pieces of shell when I do some spot cleaning of the turtle tank with my water vacuum. I find them mixed in with everything I vacuum up, including pet turtle poop, uneaten food, cuttle bone “crumbs”, and shed skin. I always thought they were shedding really thin layers of shell that would come off in really small pieces. Of course, the pieces I would find weren’t always the same size. Some were bigger, most were really small.

Then when doing a water change a month ago, I learned the truth. It was a weird water change but I learned a lot. I also watched my pet turtles a lot that day… Before I even started, I found a newly shed piece of my pet turtle shell in the water. A whole scute! Much larger than any piece of shell I’ve found since. During the water removal and replacement process, I saw about three whole scutes in the water – fresh from falling off my pet turtles’ shells.

Pet turtles eat anything

I found a fourth scute when I saw Rex eating something. I hadn’t given the turtles any food, so I though he was eating some turtle poop – but upon closer inspection he was actually trying to swallow a whole turtle scute. My pet turtle was trying to eat his shed shell! He had almost swallowed the whole piece before I managed to pull it off his mouth. That’s when I realized that my pet turtles have been shedding whole pieces of shell, entire scutes all this time. They see the pieces after they fall off, and red ear sliders being what they are, they ate them. The small bits and pieces I would find when doing maintenance were turtle shell fragments that were already processed – as in my pet turtles had already eaten and pooped them!!

After the water change, Rex was swimming around when I saw a scute hanging off his back. It was almost completely out, so I pulled it off him. Throughout the rest of the day and the day after, I kept finding whole pieces of shed shells in Rex’s side of the pet turtle tank. In the next few weeks, I vacuumed more frequently and found whole scutes in the vacuum bag. Some pieces were clearly Rex’s and some I’m not sure which pet turtle of mine they came from. I only found a single piece of whole scute that I found in Cinderella’s (my female red ear slider turtle) side of the turtle aquarium. Just one.

And so, here they are. Some photos of the pet turtle shells that were shed. I’ve been collecting them over a month and arranged them in their proper arrangement. I have almost all the scutes for Rex’s carapace – they are the first several pictures. I only found one piece from his plastron, it is the second set of photos. The last three photos are the only whole piece I found from Cinderella’s carapace. Enjoy:

How about you? Have you been finding your pet turtles shed shells? Have you been collecting them or just throwing them away?