Turtle Shell Peeling | Do Turtles Shed Their Shells?

Turtle shell peeling or shedding its skin and scutes is a quite healthy term at a young age.  Many water turtle species molt by shedding their hard outer shell layer (plate-like scales) called scutes yearly. These scutes protect the bone and epithelium covered below the turtle’s shell.

Turtle Shell Peeling

Turtles shed the older scutes every year to give expanse to the new wider scutes. Shedding skin also facilitates their swimming ability. Water turtles often eat some of their shed off scutes. 

Peeling may be healthy or unhealthy. Some turtle owners thought it to be a disease and an unhealthy mechanism. This whole process should appear translucent. It is hard to see turtles shedding their skin.  

Turtle Shedding Or Fungus

Fungal infection is provoked by lacking sufficient basking area or poor sanitary conditions. White or grey spots on a turtle’s skin and scutes identify an infectious fungal disease. Bleeding and thickening of scutes during shedding is also a sign of fungus illness. 

Healthy skin shedding can not cause any type of redness, patches, or swelling. Diseases fungal infections also lead the turtle to shed its skin and scutes. My turtle shedding white skin is also an indication of a fungus infection. 

Turtle Skin Shedding

Turtle Skin Shedding
Turtle shed their skin

Shedding skin from body parts including limbs, head, and neck is common in a turtle’s molting cycle. Turtle shedding skin on neck is causeless damage or removal of the upper layer (epiderm).  

It may happen due to several reasons such as shell problems, nutritional issues, and poor environment. Adequate sanitary conditions, algae, bacteria, and parasites also lead to red-eared slider shedding legs and neck.

If a turtle shed its skin continuously instead of annually, then you should have to consult a good vet ASAP! 

Turtle Shedding Scutes

The turtle sheds the hard outer layer (scutes) of the shell every year to grow. Shedding scutes means older scutes come off to be replaced by new ones. It is quite an easy and natural process. 

Box turtles do not shed their scutes normally like other turtle species. When the turtle sheds significantly more large masses or strands, then this is excessive shedding. 

Excessive shedding may appear because of warm water temperatures, over-feeding, bad water conditions, fungal or any other skin infections, etc. The scutes also become flaky and grey-white during shell rot. 

Do Turtles Shed Their Shells?

Do Turtles Shed Their Shells
Yes Turtles Shed Their Shells

Yes! Turtles shed their shells (scutes and skin) to exfoliate. Their shell grows in several stages. They shed the shell yearly and leave it behind. 

Appropriate dry and wet areas are best to assist turtles in shedding. It is a concerning situation for turtle keepers who have never experienced a molting cycle before. 

How Long Does It Take For A Turtle To Shed? 

The whole shedding process takes two to five weeks for a turtle to shed completely.  Also, consult your vet for the exact duration of shedding depending upon the turtle’s species. The whole process requires proper care. 

Cleaned tank water, removal of sharp objects, ideal enclosures temperature, good quality water, and UV lighting helps turtles a lot to shed easily. 


Shell is an important living part of a turtle’s body. Turtle shedding scutes and skin is a natural mechanism. Most aquatic turtles shed their outer shell layer on a regular basis. 

On the other hand, some turtles don’t shed throughout their whole life. It is important to make sure about normal shedding and problems that occur during it. 


1. Why is my turtle shell peeling?

Turtle shell peels and flakes off to grow and replace new scutes. It is a healthy process if it appears normally. In case of continuous shedding, consult with a good pet vet. Shell rot also causes the turtle’s hard outer layer of the shell to peel off and shed. 

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