turtle shedding skin

You might start to worry if you notice white stringy stuff hanging from your turtle’s skin. Most of the time, this is a sign that your turtle is shedding its skin. In today’s article, I will answer the question why turtles shed their skin, and whether or not you should worry.

Do turtles shed their skin?

Yes, similar to other reptiles, turtles do shed their skin. It is very common for turtles to shed the skin around their arms and neck.

Below is a photo of a turtle shedding its skin. As you can see, the skin appears as a white string substance that will eventually fall off in the water.

my turtle is shedding white skin

Turtles also shed their shells, which you can learn more about in this article on do turtles shed their shells.

Why is my turtle shedding skin?

The main reason a turtle sheds its skin is to accommodate for growth. It is usually completely natural, and there is no need to panic.

The reason turtle’s shed is because their skin is not as elastic as a humans, so it can’t stretch out when your turtle grows. Therefore, to accommodate new growth, the skin simply falls off as new, longer skin appears below. If you turtle didn’t shed their skin, it would mean your turtle isn’t growing, which is a much bigger issue.

That being said, a turtle that sheds constantly for months at a time could be a sign that your tank’s water is not clean.

How to help a turtle with shedding skin?

Since it is a natural process, you do not need to do anything if your turtle is shedding it’s skin. It is best to let the skin fall of naturally, so there is no need to try to pull it off yourself.

However, if the shedding lasts for months, you may want to ensure that your tank water is clean.

A turtle tank with hard water can cause your turtle’s skin to shed uncontrollably. If you think your turtle tank is too dirty, you should check out one of these products.

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You should also make sure that the temperature of your turtle tank water is somewhere between 72 and 80 degrees fahrenheight. The air temperature should be between 75 and 85 degrees fahrenheight.

You might also want to do a full water change to ensure that your water isn’t contaminated.

A turtle’s diet can also play a big role in a turtle shedding its skin. In order to ensure that your turtle has healthy skin, it is important that your turtle is getting enough vitamin A. Most leafy vegetables are high in vitamin A which can be a great option for your turtle. If your turtle will not eat vegetables, you can also find some turtle Vitamin A supplements online.

In order to protect the skin on your turtle’s shell, you should make sure your turtle is getting a lot of calcium. You can either give them food high in calcium such as kale or insects, you can also insert calcium blocks into the water of your turtle tank.

Natural skin shedding for growth

Water turtles shed their skin naturally, and it is just a part of their life cycle. It is just like how other animals shed their fur, skin, and scales, and therefore it’s nothing to be worried about.

In fact, if your aquatic turtle is shedding his skin, then it’s more likely a sign that you are taking good care of him, and he is not only happy but is growing well. A turtle must shed both its shell skin and natural skin in order to accommodate room for growth.

Most turtles tend to shed annually, and as long as your turtle is not shedding uncontrollably, then you don’t need to worry about anything. Common turtle species that shed their skin a lot include Genera Chrysemys, Deirochelys, and Graptemys.

Health issues that cause turtles to shed

As mentioned above, a turtle shedding skin can also be caused by medical problems, and therefore owners must be equipped with the knowledge to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy shedding.


Abnormal shedding can quickly turn into a severe disorder as it can lead to a skin infection in your turtle. A number of factors can contribute to causing abnormal shedding in your turtle, some of which are as follows.

  • Liver problems
  • Renal infections and Renal stones
  • Bone disorders
  • In-adequate functioning of the thyroid gland
  • Shell-rot due to Bacterial infections.
  • Over-feeding can lead to rapid growth and problems associated with it
  • Injuries and cuts caused by sharp rocks
  • Basking in sunlight for too long
  • Exposure to very high temperature
  • High ammonia levels in the turtle’s water which are caused by stagnant and unfiltered water.
  • Fungal and Bacterial infections which are caused by bad hygienic conditions in the tank.

Avoid too much calcium in turtle tank

While calcium is an essential vitamin to keep your turtle’s shell strong and healthy, it can be dangerous. If you expose your turtle to too much calcium, it could result in hard water. This essentially means the water in your tank has too much dissolved calcium and magnesium.

Hard water can cause your turtle’s skin and shell to develop white chalky residue. If this residue is not cleared, it can start to deteriorate your turtle’s skin and shell. In worst cases, it can even cause shell rot.

If your turtle starts developing white residue on their skin, you should quarantine your turtle and keep him/her on land for a couple weeks. This will help keep your turtle shell dry. Make sure to provide some drinking water if you do quarantine your turtle.

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