Fractured Shell in Reptiles

PetMD Editorial
Jul 25, 2008
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Shell Fractures

The shells of turtles and tortoises act like a second skin, protecting the interior of their body. Therefore, if a reptile's shell is crushed or fractured, it needs to be treated immediately because the fracture leaves the reptile susceptible to bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections, regardless if it occurs in the upper or lower shell.


If your reptile has a fractured shell, its tissue and body cavity must be treated first. This is to avoid any bacteria or parasites from being sealed into the tissue. After the reptile’s condition is stabilized the wounds will be cleaned again. However, it is important fractures never be treated by a pet owner. The treatment requires the expertise of veterinarian.

The fractured shell can also be surgically repaired using various types of glues like epoxy, resin or even cement with single or multiple layers of sterilized fiberglass cloth. Allow each layer to dry before the next coat is applied.

If the shell has been fractured traumatically or totally crushed, the edges and any remaining pieces must be put together and returned to proper location before the fractured is cemented.

Generally, fractured shell takes a long time to heal; sometimes up to a year or more.

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