One of the most ominous signs for turtle owners is to observe their turtle with a cracked shell with their dismay. Let’s admit it; turtles shell can get damaged due to many reasons. It includes an attack of the street or pet dog, accidental fall off from a height, or a car hit.

These chances of the cracked shell for turtles increase in the wilderness even more. Hence, like a turtle lover and owner, you might want to know,”Can a turtle live with a cracked shell?”

Luckily, we have a piece of good news for you.

Yes, the news will bring relief for the turtle owners, so, cheers.

Can A Turtle Live With A Cracked Shell

A turtle can live with a cracked shell, even if it is severely injured or broken. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to help the turtle heal the crack.

If a turtle has minor cracks, you might fix them at home with proper care, love, and medication. Also, you must know when to consult a vet.

Don’t worry, my mate.

Today, I will discuss all these here, including the reasons for a turtle cracked shell, the healing process, and finally, how and when to go to a vet.

How Can A Turtle Live With A Cracked Shell?


When you give proper attention and medication to an injured turtle, most turtles will, in fact, live even with a cracked shell. In fact, most turtles will survive severe shell fracture when you medicate the turtle with love and extensive care.

However, if you find a turtle with a large fracture and part of its shell missing, chances are highly likely that the turtle won’t survive. It happens mostly when a turtle is hit hard by a car or attacked by a big dog. When a turtle shell is fractured, most likely, its internal organ will also get damaged.

Hence, when you see any parts of the shell are missing or the damage has shattered the carapace entirely, it won’t survive for long.

Even if the shell damage seems minor from the outside, check for other turtle sickness symptoms. It would help you know if its internal organ has been damaged or not.

So, here’s the decision-

  1. If the shell is little to medium damaged but not missing any parts, it will survive. Your proper love and attention will help it survive and even fix the cracks.
  2. If the shell cracking has damaged the turtle’s internal organs and it has any missing carapace, it will die.

But that brings us to the next important question.

“Can a turtle’s damaged shell be fixed? How to fix and medicate the damaged shell of a turtle?”

To get the answer to these questions, keep reading the article.

Reasons for a Cracked Shell Of the Turtle

Before we head to know how to fix the turtle’s cracked and damaged shell, it is better to see why these cracks might happen. It will help you bypass or eliminate the causes to safeguard your favorite pet.

The most common causes of a turtle cracked carapace include-

Attack of a dog:

A dog attacking is the major reason of turtles’ broken carapace. It is common both for pet and wild turtles.

Whenever a dog finds a turtle with its slow-moving feet, the dog considers it as another chewing toy for his fun and recreation.

No doubt that turtle and tortoise indeed have a hard shell, but dogs’ teeth aren’t made for anything soft materials either. Most dog bites are sufficient to damage the surface severely. Especially, large dog breeds such as Doberman, Afghan Hound Bulldog, or Akita possess enough power in their powerful jaws to break down the turtle carapace entirely.

In fact, these predator dog bites can damage the shell so badly that it can never be fixed.

Hit by a car:

Just ask yourself…..

Will a human stand against a running car with its full speed?

Then, how can a little and tiny creature such as the turtle withstand the shock of a car hit? In fact, turtles receive more damage in their shell due to car hit than anyone can imagine.

It happens mostly in the wild when a turtle is about to cross the road. Most drivers can’t see the tiny creature moving through the streets and hit them hurt. A turtle hit by a car will often fall a few feet away, and the shock of hitting and fall of with such speed will entirely damage its carapace.

So, highly likely it won’t survive more than a few moments.

How pathetic!

Engaged in fighting:

Although turtles are docile animals, some species are highly territorial. So, they will get engaged in a ferocious battle of life and death. If you keep too many turtles in a crowded place, they will struggle to establish their territorial supremacy.

Also, most turtles are solitary animals, and they don’t get along with others. So, they engage in fights if kept together.

Then push each other hard with their shell, and sometimes, it might damage the carapace. It happens mostly for the large species, though.

Accidental fall offs:

It is the rarest cause of cracking turtles’ shells. It happens when you carry your turtle from one space to another, and it accidentally drops off from a height. Although it is not common, accidents are accidents.

So, it might happen.


One in a million case. Such is the rarity of these drop off incidents to damage the turtle shell.

Also, if the height isn’t incredibly high, the cracking will be minimal. So, you can medicate the pet to fix those broken parts of the carapace.

Tips on How to Repair Turtle Cracked Shell

When you see a turtle with a cracked shell, you must take it immediately to a vet. But what happens when you can’t consult a vet immediately. Well, in most cases, you can fix the minor cracks at home.

Step 1: Clean the crack

Most minor damages can be treated at home without much expertise.  At first, you will have to clean the cracked spot.  There will be dirt and blood on a damaged shell, which must be adequately cleaned to prevent infections.

You can use diluted iodine or chlorhexidine solution for it. Drip cotton in the solution and gently rub it on the wound to remove the dirt and blood. You will have to continue the cleaning process for the next week until the dirt and blood areentirely removed.

It not only reduces the risk of infection but also quickens the medication.

Step 2: Don’t let the turtle get wet

During the healing period, make sure the turtle shell is dry. Water on the carapace will cause a bacterial and viral infection. It can be deadly for the turtle.

Step 3:  Medicate with antibiotics

The turtle will need medication with antibiotics if the crack is too severe. Also, if you see any infection on the carapace, antibiotics will help heal the infection attack.  Some common antibiotics for turtles include ceftazidime or Baytril. If you aren’t sure, you might consult a vet over the phone for the antibiotics suggestion.

You should continue the cleaning and antibiotics for about a week to ensure that the turtle shell is freed from the infection. Also, it will help the carapace heal quicker.

Step 4: Fixing the cracked shell

It is the most crucial and sensitive part of healing the cracked carapace of a turtle. Before you start fixing the shell damage, inspect it properly. Then follow the two instructions-

  1. If the shell damage is minor and the cracks are less prominent, you can heal it at home. There are multiple ways to fix the minor cracks that we have described in the below sections.
  2. If you find the crack openings are huge, take the turtle to a vet. It is essential because vets have the experience to take care of such shell damages.

The actual fixing solution of the cracks will depend on its size. Most damages are fixable with zip-ties or quick fix epoxies.

Step 5: Don’t use fiberglass patches or resins

You will see that most YouTube videos and blog-post articles suggesting you use epoxy resin or fiberglass to fix the cracks.

This is HIGHLY DETRIMENTAL for the turtles’ health.  Both epoxy resin and fiberglass will deter you from cleaning the wound. It can quickly lead to infection growth on the cracks.

I admit that earlier even vets used the fiberglass patched and resin coating to heal the cracked turtle carapace. With advancements in medical technology, vets don’t suggest the technique anymore due to its infectious risk.

Also, if you use wiring, it might get an infection too.

Step 6: Use bridge material to fix the cracks

The best solutions to help the turtle heal those cracked shell parts quickly are to use bridging materials. You can choose a metal or plastic bracket and metal straps for the purpose.  Alternatively, you can use thick zip-ties.

At first, inspect the cracks and identify where the strapping or zip-tie is necessary to apply appropriately. Also, identify all the broken parts of the shell.  Use your finger to put the cracks as close as possible before joining them with the bridge material.

Now use quick-fix epoxy at one end of the metal strap or zip-ties. Attach the back on the side of the crack. Then use the quick-fix epoxy to connect the other half of the strap on the damage.

Make sure the epoxy doesn’t enter the crack. If it happens, then the gap won’t fix correctly forever. It would help if you held down the cracked portion tightly until the quick fix dries and tightens the strap to restore the crack movement rigidly.

Step 7: Wait and observe the turtle

For the next week, you must clean the wound daily. You can use sulfadiazine cream, also known as a silver ointment, to treat the injury. It will block any infection growth. Also, make sure the turtle is kept in a dry location without any water nearby it.

Once the cracks are fixed, you can release the turtle into its normal condition. You must ensure that the shell is fully dry before releasing it into the water.

When to Consult A Vet?

When you see bleeding from the cracked wound or punctures due to an animal bite, you might act quickly to take the helpless turtle to the vet. Working fast and quick is necessary because an untreated wound might soon lead to infection.


Infection on the turtle carapace will spread like Usain Bolt.

A vet can quickly treat the wounds with proper cleaning solutions, fix the openings, and use the right bridging material with the best effect.

Moreover, the vet can check the internal organs for proper and inclusive medication too. It will reduce the risk of any damage to the internal organs and heal the turtle quicker.

How Long Does It Take To Heal Turtle Cracks?

Turtles are incredibly slow-growing animals. Hence, the actual period of the total healing of the cracks on the carapace will take three to five weeks, at least.

After the first weak, the shell will only dry and allow you to release the turtle in normalcy. But, the actual healing period will be much longer. So you will have to be cautious during this entire haling period of the turtle crack.

You must clean the cracks twice a week after the 1st seven days. It will prevent any infection from build-up on the breaks. Also, check that the metal strap is fixed appropriately and the crack hasn’t moved away.

Final Words

There’s no doubt that a cracked shell for a turtle is DANGEROUS, more dangerous than you might imagine. We hope that our discussion has helped you understand a turtle’s looming danger with a cracked shell.

But you might know from our discussion s above on the topic, “Can a turtle live with a cracked shell?” The turtle can live with the cracked shell with proper medication and intensive care. Also, you can fix the cracks with the vet’s help or your effort.

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