How to Clean Tortoise Shell: Everything You Need to Know

How to Clean a Tortoise Shell
Cleaning Tortoise Shell

Having a pet means you must take care of them properly, including maintaining their health and hygiene. Tortoise is one of the lowest maintenance pets that need no problematic care. However, you still need to keep up with their overall health, including their most important part, which is their shell. 

If not handled properly, tortoise shells can undergo some damage, such as peeling or cracking. Taking proper care of the tortoise’s shell can also prevent dirt and grimes that can potentially affect their health. A clean and healthy shell will also help your tortoise to live a healthy and happy life. 

With that being said, the following is everything you need to know to clean a tortoise’s shell properly.

The Importance of Tortoise’s Shell

How to Clean a Tortoise Shell- A tortoise’s shell is more than just a home. It serves another crucial function to the tortoise and becomes one of the most critical parts of its body. A tortoise’s shell serves as armor and protector to the tortoise’s body. It protects the tortoise from predators and wildlife dangers. 

This is why keeping a tortoise’s shell clean and healthy is very crucial. When not cleaned properly, the shell may catch a lot of dirt. This dirt build-up will cause more severe problems such as fungal infection that will cost the shell’s health. An infected shell is prone to cracking, making it weak and unable to serve its primary purpose. 

How to Clean a Tortoise Shell
The Importance of Tortoise’s Shell

A cracked or broken shell is vulnerable to infection and bacteria and won’t be able to provide protection from predators. And if this happens, it may cost the tortoise’s life. This is why taking good care of the shell is essential, and cleaning them properly can be the first step to pay attention to. 

On the other hand, there are mixed opinions and advice regarding correctly taking care of a tortoise’s shell. Some can be very helpful, but others are misleading and may cause more harm than good to the tortoise. To avoid that, you need to ensure that you get all the information from trustworthy sources so you can treat your tortoise accordingly. 

The next part will discuss some of the most common questions about cleaning and caring for a tortoise’s shell. Pay good attention so you can apply the proper care.

1. Should a tortoise’s shell be oiled? 

Even though a lot of people say that oil can be beneficial for a tortoise’s shell, it is not recommended to use oil to clean your tortoise shell. If you haven’t known yet, a tortoise’s shell has pores that need to breathe the air the way our skin does. Oil can help the shell moist, but it can actually build up and clog the pores, which can harm the tortoise’s overall health in the long run. 

2. What is the best way to clean a tortoise’s shell? 

The best way to clean a tortoise’s shell is by using lukewarm water and a soft brush. You can use some soap or cleaner but make sure that the product you use is safe for tortoise. Do not use random cleaning products such as dish soap because they may contain harmful chemicals that will damage the shell.

To clean the tortoiseshell properly, you can follow the steps below: 

  1. Place lukewarm water in a clean tub. Do not clean your tortoise in the sink because it can transfer bacteria and affect your tortoise’s health.
  2. Splash the shell with lukewarm water until it gets wet.
  3. Softly brush the shell to clean dirt and skin sheds. Make sure to use a brush with soft bristles, so you don’t scratch the shell.
  4. Pat dry with a clean and soft fabric.

3. How often do you clean a tortoise’s shell? 

It depends on the tortoise’s environment. Tortoises that live in an enclosure are usually cleaner than those that live outdoors. So they can be cleaned less often. You can clean the tortoise’s shell once every few weeks. But you can clean them more often if they tend to catch a lot of grimes and build-ups. 

4. What does an unhealthy turtle shell look like? 

You can recognize an unhealthy tortoise shell by looking for the signs as follow: 

  1. Your tortoise refuses to it

If you notice your tortoise’s lack of appetite and refuse to eat, there is a big chance that they are feeling unwell. Immediately check to see if there are some injuries or shell damage. 

  1. Lethargic

Tortoises are not the most active pets on the planet. However, they can be active and move around their cage when awake. If you find your tortoise inactive outside of their hibernating period, you can immediately check if there’s something wrong with them and check its shell condition. 

  1. Detached carapace plates

The carapace plates should be attached to the shell securely. If you see some of them coming out of the shell, it is a sign that your tortoise is experiencing problems with their shell and needs proper care immediately. 

  1. Discoloration

It is normal for tortoises to have a variety of different shades on their shell. However, finding some unusual spots that seem out of place can signify fungal infection or metabolic bone disease. 

5. How do I make my tortoise shell shiny? 

A healthy tortoise’s shell can look shiny, but some can also look dull. This is normal, and you don’t have to worry about it. However, some tortoise owners may like their pets to look shiny for aesthetic reasons. Some people may advise you to use olive oil or mineral oils. However, there are better ways to shine your tortoise shell than this since oils can clog the pores and create build-ups. The better way to shine a tortoise’s shell is by applying a conditioner made specifically for the tortoise. Use just a light amount of the conditioner, and apply it sparingly. Conditioners also contain chemicals that may harm the tortoise if applied too often. 

How to Take Care of Tortoise Shell

Regular Bathing 

How to Clean a Tortoise Shell
Regular BathingĀ 

Bathing is essential for tortoises to stay hydrated. You can let them soak in a tub of water for about 15-20 minutes, enough for them to replenish their water supply. Good hydration will ensure the tortoise stays healthy and has a robust and healthy shell. After the bath, remember to dry them using a soft towel. Make sure that they are completely dry before you put them back in the cage, so they don’t accidentally catch some dirt on their wet body parts. 

You Might Also Like:


How to Clean a Tortoise Shell

Humidity plays a vital role in a tortoise’s overall health, including their shell. You must ensure they live in a clean and balanced environment that resembles their natural habitat. Keep in mind that different tortoise types have different needs in terms of humidity level. Consult the vet so you can set the humidity level accordingly.


How to Clean a Tortoise Shell

The nutrition they take also plays a significant role in their overall health. A well-nourished tortoise with the right amount of healthy food will live a happy life with a strong and healthy shell on their back. You can add minerals and vitamins to their diet if necessary. Take them to the vet regularly for a proper examination, and your vet may recommend the appropriate diet for your tortoise. 

Drinking Water

Drinking Water
Drinking Water

Above all that, you should pay attention to their drinking water. Provide them with fresh drinking water daily so they can adequately hydrate themselves. Change the water daily and clean the bowl to keep everything clean and safe for the tortoises. 


The shell is the most crucial part of the tortoise body. It protects their fragile organs, protects them from predators, and is practically a home for them. If the shell is damaged, the effect will go domino and may threaten the tortoise’s overall well-being. 

Aside from taking them to the vet regularly, you also need to do your part by taking proper care of them. Cleaning their shell regularly is one thing you can do to help them stay healthy. It will take up a little of your time but will help them a lot now and in the future. 

Latest Post:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *