Top Ten Facts about Turtle Shells

Time to tally up the turtle trivia in this top ten that is filled with the latest shell styles from one of the coolest reptiles around!

1) Most turtles can hide their head in their shells but some species, like the sea turtle, can’t.

turtle in shell

2) The word ‘testudinal’ means to resemble a tortoise or turtle shell.

tortoise shell closeup

3) Turtle shells have three main parts: the upper or top piece (carapace); the bottom (plastron); and the bridge that fuses the upper and lower pieces together.

Brazil turtle

4) A turtle’s carapace, or upper shell, is flatter to help them swim while a tortoises’ carapace is higher and dome-shaped.

Giant Tortoise

5) The inner layer of a turtle’s shell is made up of 60 bones, including their backbone, breastbone and ribs.

inside a turtle shell
6) A turtle’s shell is attached to their body. Turtles do not look for a bigger shell as they get bigger, instead the shell grows with the turtle.

western painted turtle

7) Most turtle shells are covered with hard scutes, also called shields, which protect the shell. These scutes are overlapping pieces of keratin (the same protein substance in your fingernail and the most abundant type of protein on Earth).

eastern box turtle

8) Softshell turtles, don’t have scutes; their shell is protected with thick skin.

flordia softshell turtle

9) The colour of a turtle’s shell varies; common colours are brown, black and olive green. Some species also have markings that are red, orange, yellow or gray.

box turtle

10) The upper and lower portions of the shell have nerve endings.

cute little turtle

You can help protect turtles by starting a Bring Back the Wild campaign for the Blanding’s turtle


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