How Hard is a Turtle Shell?

One of the most important parts of a turtle’s body is its shell. Not only does it house the turtle’s backbone, it is also the largest part of the animal. A heavily damaged shell may seem unimportant, but it is a vital part of the turtle’s anatomy. Even if a heavily damaged turtle shell cannot be repaired, professional care can still help the animal survive. Read on to learn about the different parts of a turtle’s shell and how to care for one.


You might be wondering: How hard is a turtle shell? The answer to this question depends on what type of turtle you are looking for. The average adult turtle shell weighs about 100 grams. However, infant turtle shells can weigh up to two kilograms (four pounds). Since turtles use their shells as tools, they form a very strong bond with them. Although the shell is not the most nutritious part of a turtle’s body, it still provides essential nutrients to its occupant.

Turtles are classified into three skeletal regions: the endoskeleton, the carapace, and the pygal plates. The epiplastra and the pygal plates are located on either side of the carapace. The entoplastron is found in the center of the shell, while the hyoplastron is located on the outer edge of the carapace.


The humerus (the bone that covers the plastral rim) is a relatively large, round, oblong bone that is medially positioned between two extragulars. The humerus has a broad posterior contact with the pectoral, and is positioned in front of the entoplastron, which is a much smaller bone. It is the largest bone on the plastral rim, covering the middle third of the epiplastron, the entoplastron, and the humeral, which crosses the hyoplastron diagonally.

The plastron is the most complex part of a turtle’s shell. It is composed of bony plates covered by keratinous scutes. The plastron is the oldest part of the shell, as evidenced by fossil records, and the earliest turtles had only a plastron-like ventral bone and a partial carapace. In modern turtles, the epiplastron consists of nine bones and develops in the ventral mesenchyme. The left epiplastron is divided into two smaller plates, called entoplastron and hypoplastron.

Suprapygal plates

A turtle’s shell is made of keratin, the most abundant protein found on Earth. This protein helps the turtle’s shell remain strong and not crack. Scientists are still investing in this research. While land tortoises can hide their heads within their carapace, sea turtles cannot. As a result, they require a thicker shell in order to survive. However, the exact mechanism behind the turtle’s strong shell is still unknown.

The shape of a turtle’s shell was a result of evolution. It serves two purposes: to defend against predators and to help it move. However, its hard shell is not strong enough to protect it from crocodiles, alligators, and honey badgers. In fact, these animals can break a turtle’s shell, and they often prefer to feed on the turtle’s carcass.

Pleural plates

One of the most intriguing animal organs is the turtle’s shell. Consisting of around 60 bones, the shell is reinforced with keratin, the most abundant protein in the world. The skeletal bone is composed of scutes. Softshell turtles, on the other hand, do not have scutes. They have thick, flexible skin. A turtle’s shell is made of approximately 40 layers of tissue.

While the turtle’s shell is incredibly durable, it can also break in a variety of situations. It can be broken by accident, poor nutrition, or a lack of sunlight. It can also break because of stress and an improper habitat. Some of its biggest enemies include crocodiles, alligators, and whales. It’s also possible for the shell of a turtle to be broken by a shark.


The deformation of a turtle shell carapace is similar to that of honeycombs and synthetic foams, and the deformation properties are comparable between all three layers. The carapace undergoes linear deformation at small strains due to the buckling of the cell walls. This results in an increase in compressive stress at the plateau region. This plateau effect was observed in many animal species, including turtles.

The girdle, ribs, and plastron are modified in turtle shells for protection. The shell can be as hard as 260 kg and is usually made of two components: the carapace and plastron. The carapace is the upper part of the turtle’s body, while the plastron is the flat part on its underside. The box turtle has an orange or yellow shell and has four toes on its hind feet. The Galapagos tortoise is the largest, growing up to six feet long and weighs over 573 pounds.