How To Preserve A Turtle Shell? – Everything You Get To Know

Many turtle owners have an incredible affection for their turtles, so they want to conserve their shells as their identity. Apart from that, there are many more reasons why a person wants to preserve turtle shells. Their shells are elegant because of their sophisticated design that can attract anybody. 

Turtle shells have special ornamental features making them a perfect thing to preserve. How To Preserve A Turtle Shell? Turtle shell preservation is not complicated at all. In this post, I will guide you on how to get a dead turtle out of its shell. Keep on reading if you are interested in knowing these facts.

Step By Step Guide: How To Preserve A Turtle Shell After It Dies?

The process of turtle shell preservation is not complicated at all. You need to remove flesh and carcass from the shell along with disinfecting it. After that, varnish the shell and apply felt feet to its interior. 

Required Material

These items are a must-have if you want to preserve a turtle shell properly.

  • Varnish or Polyurethane
  • Felt Pads (optional)
  • Glue (paper glue or super glue)
  • Salt
  • Borax
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Vinegar
  • Cleaning Gloves
  • Toothbrush

Eliminate Flesh From Shell

Clean carcasses from the shell by letting nature do its work of decomposing them. You can place the shell where insects can eat and remove the carcass from that shell. I have two suggestions for you: either you should put the shell on an ant bed or bury it in the soil for a month. 

If you do not have time and want the preservation of the turtle shell to be as short as possible, then remove the organic material from it using a knife by scrubbing. For deep cleaning, you should scrub the shell using a toothbrush and then raise it with water. Let the shell dry for at least 24 hours until it becomes fully dry.

By doing so, you can make sure that the shell is free from moisture. If you feel that some organic material is still there on the surface, then place it on an ant bed for a few days. After preserving the turtle shell, you do not want any continuous decomposition.

Clean The Shell

Preservation of the shell is not done by just removing the carcass and flesh from it. You can use the solution of borax, water, and salt. Put the shell in the solution and let it be there for an hour. Afterward, get it out of the solution and put it in another solution of vinegar and water for an hour. 

Once you have taken the shell out of the solution, raise it with clean water and let it dry. Water and vinegar solutions are disinfectants and kill bacteria and germs on the shell. Using disinfectant will ensure that no mold will develop on the shell due to bacteria. 

Apply Polyurethane/Varnish

During the presentation, if any of the scutes come off, then glue them back using super glue or paper glue. After that, apply varnish or polyurethane, but my suggestion is clear varnish as it works well in this case. It will protect the shell from scratches, flakes, and other damages, which increases its attractiveness. 

When applying the varnish or polyurethane, consider doing it in a place with proper ventilation. Apply it to the interior and exterior of the turtle’s shell. Once you have applied the polyurethane/varnish, allow the shell to dry in the open air for some time so that it becomes scorched.

Apply Felt Pads

Place the felt pads on the bottom of your turtle shell. By applying this, you can assure that the shell did not scratch the furniture on which you will place it. Applying felt pads is not a big deal if you use scotch felt pads, as they are effortless to place even if you are doing this for the first time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Preserving a turtle shell is legal, but it can vary from one country to another. It is illegal to import turtle souvenirs (especially shells), but if you are attempting to preserve an endangered turtle shell, then it can be prohibited. These laws exist to stop hunters from harming endangered turtle species.

How long does it take for the turtle shell to decompose?

Turtle shells decompose after 50 years on average, the same as human bones. Shells are chemically and automatically different from the rest of turtle body parts. You can preserve turtle shells to make them last for decades to come.

Can a turtle survive without its shell?

A turtle can not live without its shell because it is the part of its body, not housing. The shell is attached to its ribs, so you can understand it is a living organ. It can feel pain, sense touch, and even get an infection which indicates that damage to the shell is directly harmful to the turtle.

Final Words

Before starting, it is better to check the local laws as buying, selling, and exchanging turtle shells is prohibited in various parts of the world. Turtle shells and antiques are illegal if you are transporting them into the United States of America. If you want to carry out turtle shell preservation in your home, no matter where you live, it is legal. 

How to preserve a turtle shell without scales? If you follow what I have explained above, you can easily do that in your home. Remove the flesh and carcass from the shell and then disinfect it. After that, apply varnish or polyurethane to prevent scores from coming off your turtle shell. Simple!

You may also like: Why Is My Turtle Tank Cloudy?

Spread This Post:

Hey, I've done my Ph.D. in Marine Biology. I'm a turtle enthusiast and have been owning turtles for the last 22 years and dedicated to sharing my experience to help you in pet turtle upbringing.