How to Get a Dead Turtle Out Of Its Shell: About Shell Preservation

It’s difficult to lose a beloved pet, and I’m sure many of you would like to keep a piece of them after their passing. For turtles, it’s a bit easier as while their bodies decompose over time, their shells will remain intact. That’s why people want to learn how to get a dead turtle out of its shell to preserve their shells as a remembrance.

Fortunately, it’s an easy process, though you have to prepare your emotions and stomach for it! To learn the right steps and tips, read on.

How to Get a Dead Turtle Out Of Its Shell

Before you learn how to get a dead turtle out of its shell, you need to know if your turtle has officially passed on. While you can have your vet take a look, there are other ways that also indicate a turtle that has passed:

  • There is no sound or movement when gently poked or prodded
  • There are some offensive odors, as dead turtle’s tissues are eaten by microorganisms, producing foul smells
  • There are no pumping movements around your turtle’s tail and rear legs

Once you have confirmed that your pet has passed on, you now have to get it out of its shell. Here are some ways to do so:

1. Leave It By the Ant Bed

You can leave the shell on an ant bed, letting it sit there for a week or two. The ants and other insects will do the job in eating away the turtle’s soft tissue to slightly quicken the process.

Once the smell is gone and its tissues are gone and decomposed, get the turtle shell and rinse it in case there are ants or other insects still inside the shell.

2. Burying Your Turtle

The most popular way to get a dead turtle out of its shell is to allow it to decompose and follow Mother Nature. You can either leave the turtle in an open space outside or bury it in a moist area. Just be sure that you leave or bury it in a memorable area that’s less-traveled so you know where to go back.

Leave the shell for two weeks and check it again. You may need to leave it for a few months, so check on it every two to three weeks. Once the soft tissue is decomposed completely and the smell has faded, you can now clean and preserve the shell.

3. Scrubbing It Out Yourself

This isn’t a good option, as this can affect your mental health, but it IS possible. You can either do it yourself or have a professional scrub out the turtle’s tissues and body parts. Be sure to scrub gently and thoroughly, ensuring there is nothing left inside and that the inner shell is clean.

Once clean, allow the shell to sit under the sun for 24 hours before you prepare the shell for preservation.

4. Cook Your Turtle

This may seem odd, but if you want even faster results, you can cook your turtle and simmer it in a pot or deep pan right after it has passed away. While it cooks, the soft tissue will fall apart then drop off.

But, you have to be wary, as this will produce the foulest of odors, so simmer the turtle in a well-ventilated area. Furthermore, this is best used as a last resort if you have no time to spend in getting the turtle out of its shell.

NEVER attempt to use acid solutions as a way to melt the turtle’s soft tissue to quicken the decomposition process. This is dangerous for you to do and made for professional use. Furthermore, it can break the shell and it’s not a great way for your pet to pass on!

After decomposing, you can leave your turtle and any remnants in a memorable spot, such as your yard. Bury your pet for good and be sure that it won’t be dug up by any animals or existing household pets.

Read more: What To Do If You Find a Baby Turtle: 3 Steps You Should Follow

Shell Preservation Tips

Now that you know how to get a dead turtle out of its shell, what can you do about its shell? Follow these quick tips:

  • Clean the inside of your turtle shell and make sure you wear rubber gloves when doing so. The preserved bones of your dead turtle will still be in its shell, so you still need to remove them. You can do this with a toothbrush, using its handle to remove bones from hard-to-reach areas.
  • Scrub the shell gently using hot water and said toothbrush, scrubbing both inside and out. The cleaner, the better for efficient preservation, so you can take your time doing this.
  • You can further clean the shell by putting it in a cleaning solution of water, salt, and Borax, leaving it for an hour. Rinse the shell afterward and place it in another solution of water and vinegar for one more hour. Rinse again and allow it to dry for a few hours.
  • To prevent the shell from flaking apart, cover it using polyurethane or clear varnish both inside and out for preservation. Dry the shell in a well-ventilated area before displaying it.

Do you want to learn more about turtle shell preservation and other tips on how to do so? Check out this helpful video:

Wrapping It Up

Losing your pet turtle is difficult and if you would like to preserve a part of him as a memory, shell preservation is possible. However, the first thing you need to do is to remove their soft tissues first before cleaning and preserving the shell. It may not be an easy process (emotionally) and will take longer, but it’s a quick one and soon after, the remains of your old and beloved pet can be displayed the way you want it.

I hope that these tips on how to get a dead turtle out of its shell helped you out. So if you are currently dealing with your turtle’s passing, prepare yourself and follow these steps when you’re ready.

Leave a Comment