Do Turtles Shed Their Shells?
Turtles have a unique body structure that sets them apart from other animals. But do turtles shed their shells? While the answer is sometimes yes, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
How Turtles Shed
Turtles’ shells, also known as carapaces, are actually part of their skeleton – made of fused together ribs, vertebrae, and other bones. Unlike other animals, turtles can’t remove or shed their shells completely, but they can shed parts of it.
When Different Species Shed
Not all turtles and tortoises shed parts of the shell. Some species shed the scutes, which are the bony plates that make up the outer layer of the shell, more often than others.
- Sea Turtles: Sea turtles typically shed their scutes every few weeks or months.
- Land Turtles: Land turtles take much longer between shedding cycles, often taking a year or more before they shed their scutes.
- Tortoises: Tortoises can take even longer between shedding cycles
, often only shedding every few years.
Why Turtles Shed
When turtles move from one environment to another, their shells may need to be adjusted to fit the new surroundings. For instance, when a turtle moves from land to water, it may shed some of its scutes to make it more hydrodynamic. In addition, some research suggests that shedding scutes may help turtles get rid of parasites or increase their sense of smell.
In conclusion, turtles do not shed their shells the same way other animals shed their fur or feathers. However, certain species of turtles do shed their scutes, or outer bony plates, as part of their ongoing growth process. This helps them stay healthy and fit in to their environment.