Can a turtle take off their shell?

This may sound like a simple question, right? When it gets hot outside, we take off our jackets. We know that arthropods like insects and spiders can molt their exoskeleton when it's time to grow. Insects Vs Spiders. Maybe you've even heard of hermit crabs moving into larger shells as their bodies continue to grow. So, can a turtles and tortoises take off their shells?

The short answer, is no! In fact, turtles and tortoises can not live without their shells. That is because turtles are vertebrates and their shells are fused with their bones. What is a vertebrate? Their backbone containing their spinal cord is connected right to the middle of their shell! They even have nerves that run through their shell and have nerve endings on the outside of their shell!

Does that mean that their shells can feel?

Yes, a turtle and tortoise can feel when you're touching it and it hurts when their shell gets damaged. This is important for them to be able to detect warmth and to also feel if a predator is trying to get through their shell. They can also feel good things through their shell. You may have seen videos of turtles enjoying a good scratching or cleaning with a brush. Turtles like to be clean just like us. Learn more about the different types of turtles.

What happens if a turtle or tortoises' shell is removed?

Like mentioned earlier, they can die without their shell. Their shell is not only part of their skeleton, but it is also their protective home. Like all reptiles turtles shed their scales around their body. However, tortoises don't shed the scutes on their shells! They grow with them their whole life and it grows thick and heavy, which helps them move through bushes and keeps them safe from predators. To end with, please be mindful about turtles and tortoises' shells. If you ever handle them, do so very carefully and gently.

Learn more about turtles, including the difference between turtles vs tortoises!

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