Why is My Turtle’s Shell Soft: 5 Reasons to Know (Updated – 2024)

Beautiful Yellow & Black Turtle shell

People who have experience in keeping turtles or are breeders know that some turtles may have soft shells. If a turtle’s shell is soft, it is a sign of weak physical health. if your turtle is healthy, you can check it from its shell. If it’s soft that means you need to take it to the vet.

There are multiple reasons why your turtle’s shell is soft, which we are going to discuss in this guide. If you are planning to keep a turtle as a pet, make sure you take these 5 important factors into consideration.

Reasons Why Your Turtle’s Shell is Soft:

Here are the 5 reasons behind the soft shell of your turtle. Make sure to consult with the vet so that they can make sure your pet is treated.

1. It’s a Baby Turtle:

If your turtle is a baby then you do not have to worry as a baby turtle’s shell is soft, which is natural after all. It takes a few months for the shell to get strong. You should just take care of it with proper diet and exercise so your turtle gets healthy. Moreover, it is important to keep your pet turtle in a clean habitat so that over time, its shell gets stronger.

2. Deficiency of Calcium:

It is important to make sure that the turtle’s shell remains hard once it is completely developed. Therefore, if you notice that its shell is getting weak, that is probably because of calcium deficiency. If not treated on time, your turtle can get a metabolic bone disease which could lead to death.

Just like a human body needs nutrients on a daily basis to function properly, a turtle needs these essentials as well, mainly calcium. Some people give their turtle calcium-fortified pellets but that may not be enough. You need to consult the doctor and then increase the amount of this important nutrient, which is calcium until its shell becomes hard enough.

3. Lack of Lighting:

Another important reason your turtle’s shell is soft is because of the poor lighting in the tank. When the turtles are in the wild, they are in abundance of UVB rays, which keeps them healthy. Therefore, if you are keeping a turtle, make sure to consult an expert regarding the lighting so the shell doesn’t get weak.

4. The Water Temperature is not warm Enough:

A turtle needs a water temperature that must be 75-86 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you have the thermostat so you can check the temperature inside the tank. Keep the right temperature in the tank otherwise, your turtle’s health will be compromised.

5. The Shell is Infected:

In some cases, the reason could be the infected shell. If the shell is getting weak, you need to visit the vet at your earliest because it might have gotten a bacterial infection. If not treated on time, the shell will get weak and start damaging your turtle.

Also Read: 5 Fascinating Reasons Why Turtles Without Shells Won’t Survive

How to Treat the Weak Shell in Turtle?

As mentioned above, the best possible way to keep your turtle’s shell healthy is to make sure that is getting enough light, calcium, and other necessary minerals.

Moreover, make sure that your turtle is not losing weight. If you notice any frequent changes in your turtle’s weight, take it to the doctor immediately.

If you are continuously feeding your turtle in the right way with the right diet and making sure it is getting enough light, then you don’t have to worry. The shell gets hard over time if you are taking care of all the factors mentioned above.

Bottom Line:

If your turtle’s shell is soft, this is something serious and you should take immediate action for it. Make sure you are feeding your turtle on time with the right supplements and keeping the water temperature at the correct degrees. Also, make regular visits to the vet to ensure a healthy life for your turtle.


Is the soft shell of a young turtle normal?

The fragile shell of a young turtle is abnormal. A hard, well-calcified turtle shell is indicative of health. Soft shells could be a sign of malnutrition, metabolic problems, or insufficient UVB exposure.

How can a soft turtle shell be repaired?

Improving a soft turtle shell’s nutrition, offering adequate UVB illumination, and making sure it has a suitable habitat are all part of the solution. For a customised treatment plan that can involve environmental modifications and calcium supplements, speak with a reptile veterinarian.

What constitutes a sound baby shell?

A healthy baby turtle shell is uniformly shaped, solid, and well-formed. It shouldn’t have any imperfections or soft areas. A healthy shell develops as a result of a balanced food, sufficient UVB exposure, and a well-kept habitat.

How can a dry turtle shell be repaired?

By keeping the humidity levels in the turtle’s enclosure at the right levels, a dry turtle shell can be resolved and Make sure there’s a moist hiding place and that fresh water is always available beside Enhancing the condition of the shell with a moisturiser safe for reptiles could also be beneficial.

Can I use any substrate in my turtle enclosure?

Selecting a substrate that encourages a hygienic and secure atmosphere is crucial. Steer clear of surfaces where fungi or bacteria might grow. Such options as cypress mulch or coconut coir are appropriate.

How frequently ought I to feed my young turtle?

Small, regular feeds are necessary for baby turtles. Which can Provide commercial turtle shells as a balanced diet, augmented with suitable fresh vegetables and sporadic sources of protein. Feed them every day, adjusting the amount as they get bigger.

At what temperature is the optimal habitat for a young turtle?

Keep the water at 75–80°F (24–27°C) and the basking area between 90 and 95°F (32–35°C). To make sure the enclosure has the right heat gradient, use a trustworthy thermometer.

Is it essential to give my young turtle UVB lighting?

Indeed, UVB light is necessary for the creation of vitamin D3, which is necessary for the metabolism of calcium and Ensure that your turtle gets 10-12 hours of UVB exposure per day, using a UVB lamp appropriate for their enclosure size.

How can I detect whether my turtle is ill?

A sick person may exhibit strange behaviours, irregularities in their shell, changes in hunger, or tiredness. Careful observation and routine veterinarian examinations can aid in the early detection and resolution of health problems.

Phill Casidy
I’m a pet blogger and pet copywriter for outstanding pet industry businesses & product description writer. My mission is to educate pet owners to help them become the best advocates for their pets’ health and happiness.