How to Preserve a Turtle or Tortoise Shell

Losing a pet turtle is an extremely painful experience for the pet owner. But since you’re reading an article about, “How to preserve a turtle shell”, we can safely assume you want to preserve a piece of your pet forever.

Well, you can actually preserve a piece of your reptilian friend by preserving its shell. This way you won’t have to say goodbye to your turtle for good.

There are various methods of preserving turtle shells, but these processes are not for everyone. It takes a lot of courage and not everyone has the stomach for it.

So, if you think you’re up for it, let’s start discussing how you can preserve a turtle’s shell.

How to Preserve a Turtle Shell

How to Preserve a Turtle Shell or Dead turtle shell

We know that losing a pet turtle is a traumatic event for its owner. But what if you could keep the turtle’s shell intact in order to keep a part of your turtle with you forever? Here’s a plan to preserve your pet turtle’s shell.

1. Take the shell out

Cut off the turtle’s shell, then wash it with hot water to kill any bacteria that might have been on the turtle. Do not use bleach. Be sure to wash the entire shell, and leave the inside of the shell in the hot water.

2. Decomposition

Before you take the shell out you have to make sure the turtle is gone completely. If you’ve found any ant beds near your house, or have any ants living in your yard, you leave the tortoise there for about a week. After a week the ants will have eaten the remains of the turtle, only leaving the shell behind.

3. Cleaning

This is the most crucial step in the whole process. It is necessary to clean the shell and make sure it is completely free of dirt, grease, and insects.Do not use any abrasive cleaning products.

Take some borax, one liter of water, and some salt. Mix them together and submerge the turtle’s shell in it for roughly an hour. After that take it out and rinse it off.

Next, submerge the shell in a vinegar solution for an hour. Then dry it off.

4. Disinfection

Next, you need to disinfect the shell and make sure it is free of any bacteria, fungus, or mold. The best way to do this is by using an alcohol-based cleaning solution that is labeled for reptiles and amphibians. You can buy these from most drug stores.

5. Dealing with Scutes/Scales

If the scutes or scales of the turtle’s shell are falling off, then that’s when you need to start gluing them back to the shell using super-glue.

6. Varnish or Polyurethane

This is the most important (but very time consuming) step of the whole process. Varnish or Polyurethane are products that are used to protect other things from being scratched.

If don’t want your turtle’s shell to be scratched or be flaked apart, then you need to use Polyurethane. To do this, you need to spray the turtle’s shell with a thin coat of Polyurethane.

7. Felt Feet

Most people prefer to display their turtle shells on a piece of furniture. But it leaves the furniture susceptible to scratches. You can easily prevent this by adding felt feet to the underside of the turtle’s shell.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean and preserve a turtle shell?

When you’re sure that the turtle is no more, you have to take its shell out and put it in a borax solution. Keep it like that for an hour, then rinse it and put it in vinegar and let it dry.

How do you keep a turtle’s shell healthy?

The turtle’s shell will only remain healthy if you keep the turtle well-nourished. Make sure that the turtle’s diet is full of vitamins and minerals. Use calcium supplements if necessary.

How do you keep a turtle’s shell from getting soft?

If the turtle’s shell is too soft, then you won’t be able to preserve it. So, include vitamin D and calcium in the turtle’s diet.

Are you supposed to clean your turtle’s shell?

A lot of turtle owners don’t realize it, but it’s essential to clean the turtle’s shell from time to time.

What does it mean when a turtle shell is peeling?

A turtle’s shell sheds the scutes in order to prevent any kind of blockage or infection from taking place.

Final Thoughts

Now, you know all the tricks for keeping a turtle’s shell preserved for long term use as a memento. Hopefully, our guide regarding how to preserve a turtle shell has helped you understand the whole process.

Keep in mind that this article is just meant to help you understand what to do in order to keep your turtle’s shell intact. It isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide to all the various steps involved. So, if you’re unsure about anything, please contact a professional in the field.


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