why do turtles shake their shells

Why Do Turtles Shake Their Shells

Seeing your turtle shaking their shells looks like they know how to twerk. When you touch a turtle, it will show off some twerking skills. However, several people wonder whether a turtle enjoys it when you touch its shell or if they find it irritating.

Seeing your turtle shaking their shells looks like they know how to twerk. When you touch a turtle, it will show off some twerking skills. However, several people wonder whether a turtle enjoys it when you touch its shell or if they find it irritating.

As a turtle owner, you must know what’s bothering them. It will ensure that you can keep them happy. Get into the article to understand why your turtle might be shaking its shells.

Why Do Turtles Shake Their Shells?

If a turtle gets rubbed on some surface, it will shake its shell. Like most animals, turtles also have an itch on their back. Shaking their back helps them get rid of the itch. So whenever you scratch your pet turtle’s back, they start twerking.

Now, you must be wondering what makes a turtle’s back itchy. Look at a few reasons behind a turtle’s itchy back:

Shell Rot

shell rot

A turtle often has an itchy back when its shell is rotting. Due to shell rot, a turtle’s scutes start falling off. Shell rot causes a strong urge in your turtle to get rid of the itch. They will scratch themselves against any surface near them in case of shell rot.

Lack of Hygiene

Turtles are pretty unhygienic and eat in the same tank as they excrete. It’s not a problem for the turtles living in the wild. The freshwater gets recycled on its own.

Moreover, a natural freshwater body is too large to become unhygienic soon. But when you are keeping a pet turtle in a tank at your home, it gets dirty quickly.

Irrespective of the size of the tank, it will get dirty. Therefore, pet turtles often develop an itchy back from residing in a dirty tank.

Barnacles in Sea Turtles

barnacles in sea turtles

Several sea turtles have harmless barnacles. But in some, the barnacles cause discomfort on the skin and shell. The barnacles might get attached to the turtle’s body and buried in their skins.

As the barnacles get buried in their skin, it creates openings. The openings make turtles more prone to infections. Therefore, turtles with too many barnacles often have itchy backs.

Lack of Moisture

Like humans, turtles might also develop an itch due to dry skin. Most turtles, excluding some terrestrial ones, need moisturized skins.

The moisture ensures that the turtles can develop healthy shells. Rots, itching, and even fatal infections are common without a healthy shell.

How to Understand If a Turtle Has Shell Rot

how to understand if a turtle has shell rot

Apart from shaking their shells, turtles also exhibit some signs of shell rot. Any discharge from an infection on your turtle’s shell is a sign of rotting. Shell rot is often associated with a pungent smell.

Sometimes the scutes of your turtle might become soft and withering. You can also recognize shell rot from pitting on the surface of the shell. If the rot is too severe, a bony tissue develops in the shell.

How to Take Care of Your Pet Turtle’s Shell

It would be best if you remembered the following to take care of your turtle’s shell:

  • Clean the shell using a toothbrush or any other brush with soft bristles.
  • Never use anything abrasive on a turtle’s shell because it makes them uncomfortable.
  • Stoke your turtle’s shell gently without too much pressure because they have sensitive nerves in the shell.
  • Resist the urge to tap your turtle’s shell.
  • Bathe your pet turtle every two weeks. It will help you clean your turtle’s shell and eliminate impurities that cause infection. Don’t use cold water; keep the water temperature around 90-95 F to bathe your turtle.
  • Never let a dog free around a turtle. A dog might break a turtle’s shell and break it.

Can Turtles Feel When Someone Is Petting Them?

Turtles can feel it when you touch, pet, or scratch their shells. The nerve endings on a turtle’s shell can help them feel every sensation. Scratching a turtle’s shell gives them a sensation similar to when you scratch a dog’s ear.

can turtles feel when someone is petting them

Both dogs and turtles like the feeling. Your turtle wiggling their butt when you scratch them proves they love it. But don’t be too aggressive while petting or scratching your turtle’s shell.

Turtle shells contain keratins which are found in human nails and hair. The keratins have nerve endings. Therefore, turtles can feel it when something comes in contact with their shells.

What Are Some Tips to Prevent Shell Rots in Turtles?

You can use several preventive measures to take care of your turtle. The tank’s environment, diet, and basking routine are crucial in preventing turtle rots. Some preventive measures are as follows:

Feed Them Properly

To foster healthy shell development in your pet turtle, you must feed them a proper diet. A protein-rich diet is the best for a baby turtle. Vitamin and calcium supplements are also essential for healthy growth. It protects against shell rot and other health complications.

Recreate a Turtle’s Natural Environment

You might be unable to replicate a turtle’s natural habitat completely. But you must include the key features of a turtle’s natural environment. Provide your turtle with an adequate amount of space to keep swimming.

It would be best if you also focused on maintaining proper water temperature to keep your turtle comfortable. Keeping the water clean is also necessary. Keeping a few aquatic plants inside the tank will also prevent the turtle’s shell from rotting.

Find a Suitable Basking Spot

Basking will help your turtle gain all the necessary vitamins. It will also enable your pet turtle to maintain proper body temperature. You can install UV lights on the tank as it offers Vitamin D.

With abundant access to vitamin D, your turtles will grow and stay healthy. The basking should be dry. It’s best if natural sunlight can reach the basking spot somehow.

Inspect Your Turtle’s Shell Frequently

inspect your turtle’s shell frequently

You must be a proactive pet owner to prevent shell rot in your beloved turtle. Inspect your turtle’s shell every day. If you can spot shell rot in an early stage, you can treat it easily. Always remember to take your turtle for frequent visits to the vet.

How to Treat a Turtle with a Shell Rot

It would help if you did the following to treat your pet turtle with a rotten shell:

  • Remove your turtle from the tank to a dry place.
  • Apply betadine to the infected areas using a Q-tip. The medication should not reach the turtle’s eyes, mouth, or ears as it irritates.
  • Keep your turtle in the basking spot for a few hours after applying for the medicine. It will help the medicine to get soaked into its shells. You can also use UV lights to make the medicine get absorbed faster.
  • Keep repeating the steps unless the shell gets treated completely. If the shell doesn’t get better, you should take your turtle to the vet immediately.

Closing Thoughts

A turtle’s shell is made of keratin and contains several nerve endings. Therefore, a turtle can feel every sensation in its shell, like scratching or petting. Turtles usually wiggle their back to get rid of a discomforting itch.

Turtles are often seen scratching their shells against a surface. It’s similar to when a dog wiggles its tail when you scratch its ear or head.

But sometimes, your turtle might be shaking its back too frequently. Keep checking whether your turtle shakes its back even when you are not scratching or caressing it.

Frequent shaking of its back can signify infection or shell rot. You must care for your turtle correctly if you identify signs of shell rot.

Remember to take your pet turtle to the vet if you find anything unusual. Be a responsible pet owner and keep your turtle healthy.

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