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Shell Rot

turtle shell rot care prevention tips

Discoloration, less hardness, a bad smell and shelling of the tortoise and turtle shell are signs of shell rot, a common and severe disease. This makes it have the potential in affecting the carapace and the plastron; which are the two outer shells of an organism. If not taken seriously at an early stage it will advance and become series in the form of little spots or lesions.

Shell rot is a disease that mostly affects turtles and is caused by bacteria or fungi that inject themselves into the shell. Possible ways include penetration through the shell through bites, cracks, abrasions or any sort of chips on the shell surface. This is because they create an environment favorable for the growth of germs and fungus, and therefore living circumstances that are unsanitary or wet will only aggravate it. Tortoise and turtle, sometimes suffer from poor immune system and skin, which may be because of lack of exposure to sun, especially UVB, poor humidity, inadequate basking places and ultimately shell rot.

This is due to the fact that there are many signs such as change of color of the shell which may turn to white, yellow or green. These spots could turn soggy and stinking if elongation infection advanced. Eventually, the shell may begin to weaken or disappear, thereby exposing the bone and increase the likelihood of developing a life-threatening body infection (Septicaemia).

Hire a veterinarian to intercede on behalf of the animals in a timely manner, before they die. Measures, which are often used by podiatrists, are the thorough washing of the localized region, conducting courses of antibiotic or antiseptic therapy, and changing the factors that might lead to a repeat effectively. Some possible causes of shell rot include improper care and hygiene, and common recommends regular checkups to avoid the development of the disease in tortoise and turtles.


  • White, yellow, green, or dark brown patches may be seen on the shell. When an infection begins, it usually manifests as these discolored spots.
  • A healthy shell has a hard, solid texture, but an infected one might feel mushy and squishy to the touch.
  • The diseased parts typically release a foul odor that is easily identifiable. Bacterial or fungal activity is the cause of this smell.
  • Eroding or breaking down of the shell, which exposes the underlying layers, may occur as the illness advances. Deeper infections and worse health problems might result from this.
  • If open sores or ulcers appear on the surface of the shell, it means that the infection is serious.
  • In rare cases, the shell may develop tiny depressions or pits, which are often encircled by sections that are discolored or softened.
  • In some instances, the regions around the diseased areas may experience swelling.
  • A tortoise and turtle suffering from shell rot could exhibit a lack of energy and a generally sickly disposition.
  • Infected tortoise and turtles may have a decrease in appetite or cessation of feeding completely, which may result in a loss of weight and a worsening of their condition.
preventing shell rot infestations
managing turtle shell rot infections


  • Bacteria and fungus may enter the body via any openings in the shell, such as cuts, fractures, or abrasions.
  • Exposure to infections is higher in filthy, humid environments.
  • The shell may become more vulnerable to infection due to poor husbandry, which includes inadequate basking places, inappropriate humidity levels, and a lack of UVB rays.
  • tortoise and turtles Carrying the Infection: The infection may be transmitted from one tortoise and turtle infected with shell rot to another tortoise and turtle by direct touch.
  • The tortoise and turtle's environment may be at risk for pathogen transmission due to polluted substrates, water, or items.
  • tortoise and turtle Immune System Weakness from Poor Nutrition: Infections, such as shell rot, may more easily infect tortoise and turtles with little nutrition.


  • Look for areas of light brown, white, green, or yellow on the shell.
  • To find any mushy or squishy spots, gently massage the shell.
  • Keep an eye out for any open sores or ulcers that may be visible on the surface of the shell.
  • Look for spots where the shell seems to be deteriorating or eroding.
  • An infection is usually indicated by a strong, foul odor.
  • Take note of any reduced levels of activity.
  • Determine if the tortoise and turtle is eating less or not eating at all if its appetite has diminished.
  • In order to determine whether bacteria or fungi are responsible for an illness, a veterinarian may obtain a swab sample from the site. This requires the sample to be cultured in a laboratory in order to identify the specific infections.
  • The use of X-rays allows for the evaluation of shell damage, infection depth, and bone involvement in more serious instances.
  • To assess the tortoise and turtle's general well-being and look for indicators of a systemic illness, blood tests may be performed.
  • To help confirm the diagnosis and determine the kind of infection, a tiny biopsy of the afflicted shell region may be obtained and examined under a microscope.
turtle shell rot control and treatment
common causes of shell rot in turtles


  • Apply a gentle antiseptic solution (such as chlorhexidine or diluted betadine) to the affected regions and massage it in.
  • Use a sterile instrument to remove any rotting or dead tissue from the shell. A veterinarian should do this to stop the harm from becoming worse.
  • Follow your veterinarian's instructions for applying any topical antibiotics or antifungal drugs.
  • To encourage shell drying and stop additional infection, temporarily house the tortoise and turtle in a dry, clean area. Give them a moist hiding place so they don't become dehydrated.
  • In extreme cases or when the infection has gone outside the shell, systemic antibiotics or antifungals should be used. A veterinarian should prescribe these.
  • Make sure the enclosure is suitable by providing enough space for basking, humidity, and UVB light.
  • tortoise and turtles need a vitamin and calcium-rich diet to keep their shells healthy and their immune systems strong.