do turtles have scales

Do Turtles Have Scales?

Turtles are one of the oldest and most beloved species of animals on the planet. Many people are familiar with the hard, protective shell that most turtles have covering their back and upper abdomen. But do turtles also have scales like some other reptiles?

Turtles Have Scutes, Not Scales

The answer to this question is a bit more complex than a simple “yes” or “no”. It’s true that turtles do not have the type of scales that some other reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, have. Instead, they have something called “scutes.” Scutes are plates of thickened skin, usually made of keratin, that overlap to form a further layer of protection for the turtle’s shell.

Types of Scutes

Turtles have different types of scutes. They have carapace scutes which cover their backs and upper abdomen. They also have plastron scutes which cover the lower abdomen and tail. The scutes are much thicker than the rest of a turtle’s skin and are made up of a layer of keratin that provides added protection to the shell.

Do Turtles Have Scaled Skin?

Underneath the scutes, turtles do have some very small scales on their skin. These are much smaller than the scales found on the skin of some other reptiles like snakes, so they can be difficult to see without a microscope.


In conclusion, turtles actually have scutes, not scales. Scutes are thickened plates of skin made of keratin, which provide an extra layer of protection on top of the turtle’s protective shell. Underneath the scutes, turtles do have some very small scales on their skin, but these are much more difficult to see.

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