What is wrong with my turtle’s flaky shell?

“Man these turtles are work! Ok I have a question. I have one of the turtles developing a flaking around the shell that won’t go away. My wife says it looks like it’s a whitish flaky look around the outside of the shell. I thought maybe they are basking too much in the light and it’s drying the shell out. I submerged the bridge a little more so they would stay wet but still get the light and it looks like nothing is changed when they get to the drier spot and the shell dries. I mean they don’t act like there is anything wrong but I still don’t want to do anything to hurt them. I have tried feeding that powdered calcium but it falls off before they can eat it so I changed to pieces of a cuttle bone so I wonder if they get enough calcium. What is your take on this? What can I do differently?

The flaking around the shell might just be normal shedding of the scutes. Scutes are those individual sections of shell, which are shed periodically. Sometimes they don’t shed off in one piece though, and instead flake a bit.

Sometimes though a flaking around the shell may be a symptom of a disease or something growing on or in between the scutes. This is almost always a result of the environment the turtle is kept in, for instance if the water is especially dirty for an extended period of time or, perhaps more often, there is not an appropriate basking spot available so the turtle can leave the water and dry out.

For turtles that bask, it is important that they can leave the water and have access to a hot spot where they can completely dry off. Your turtle will not over bask, so you can trust it to know what it needs to do. If it is basking all the time that is okay, although if it is always out of the water consider checking the water quality too.

Without seeing your turtle it is not possible to tell whether the shell flaking is normal or possibly a sign of disease. The best bet is to have the turtle examined by a veterinarian.

In the meantime, double check the turtle’s housing. Make sure it can easily leave the water and that there is a place for it to bask under a heat lamp so that its shell can fully dry. Also check the water quality and ensure the enclosure is not overly dirty. Aquatic turtles require frequent water changes to stay healthy.

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