Turtles & TortoisesReptilesTurtle & Tortoise Questions

Itchy Turtles

Shedding of Shell

According to turtle breeders and owners, it’s pretty standard for a turtle to have an itchy shell when it’s going to shed its shell or pieces of its shell. Turtles love to scratch by themselves but don’t help them in this task because they will indeed not like this. They don’t prefer getting help, tiny turtles with a giant ego. However, during this time, if you have to help them in scratching, avoid being too harsh as not to peel the pieces of shell off because the shell is quite loose until it’s ready to shed off completely. 

turtle shell brush

Cleanliness 

Sea turtles scratch the back of their shell to clean it. This scratching helps them remove any biotic life form that might stick to their shell-like barnacles, algae, diatoms, etc. turtles scratch the back of their shells against the rocky or stony beds or any hard surface coming in contact with their shell. Excessive growth of any biotic component of water would adversely affect the movement and swimming speed of the turtle.

Fun 

You will come across many funny videos of little turtles being scratched by toothbrushes or fingernails of their keepers on the internet. All turtles can feel their shell; being a rigid structure does not keep them from getting a feel of it. The shell of the turtle has many nerve endings. The neurons in them get excited when touched or tickled lightly. This action makes a turtle content and happy as they enjoy the activity. 

A scratching must feel like tickling a turtle, and just as we humans get tickles, it is always followed by laughter; turtles also feel good. A zookeeper Torunn Gundersen has built a scratcher. With the help of this scratcher, turtles can scratch themselves whenever they want, and wherever they want, they can have fun on their own. The scratcher is one of the enrichment activities, so the animals don’t get bored. These activities also connect the sea turtles to their natural habitat, and they get to enjoy the experience they would have in their wild and natural environment.

But not all turtles are into scratching. For instance, radiated turtles are not so fond of scratching, but on the other hand, sliding turtles love it.

Skin and Shell Infections

Turtles and tortoises suffer from many skin and shell infections. They could be either fungal or bacterial. If these infections are not treated on time, they can cause permanent damage to the shell and skin. They could also advance into septicemia, in which infection spreads in animals’ bloodstream, which is critical and most lethal.

Symptoms and Types

  • The name of skin and shell infection varies according to the location and properties of the infection
  • Abscesses are the pus-filled cavities in or under the skin.
  • Blister disease is marked by the presence of fluid-filled pockets within the skin.
  • If slow healing ruptured blisters or red sores are spotted, it is an indication of scale rot. The turtles and tortoises whose shells are infected with this disease will have soft areas or patches on the shell, which might lift off from the rest of the shell and reveal the structure which was previously covered by the shell.

Causes

Bacterial and fungal species mainly cause these skin and shell infections. Turtles live in a dirty environment as they take their food inside the water and defecate in the same water, and also, the humidity level is very high. These conditions are most favorable for fungal and bacterial growth.

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