Do Turtles Have Scales? (7 Interesting Turtle Scute Facts)

Turtles are amazing creatures. They can live in several places such as lakes, oceans, rivers, and even deserts. Small animals like turtles can live in harsh conditions and are targeted by various predators. They need something to defend themselves from the environment and predators.

Do turtles have scales? Scute is a term for scales on turtles that cover the entire shell. Almost all parts of the turtle’s body have scutes except their head. Scutes are made of keratin. It will protect turtles from bacteria, abrasions and prevent water loss.

To learn more about turtle scales or scutes, let’s read this article to the end.

Do turtles have scales
Do turtles have scales?


What Are Turtle Scales?

Turtle scales or scutes are a layer of protection from the turtle to make the turtle’s skin resistant and rigid to any attacks. Turtle scale will resist abrasion when they are in the water or roam on land. Scales help turtles to keep them healthy by preventing water loss.

The essential role of scales is protecting the turtle’s shell from bacteria. Aquatic turtles that spend a lot of time in the water will be susceptible to several bacteria. The scutes will ensure that the turtle will not be getting to such bacteria.

As a protective shell, scutes will wear off and grow a new one. It will ensure the turtle will always be aware of any bacteria.


Do Turtles Have Scales?

Yes, turtles have scales to help them survive. Turtles already have scutes from when they are born. As they get older, the scutes get toughness and have bigger form. It starts from the initial scutes when they are just born and will peel off when the time comes to replace them with new, better quality scutes.

You can’t equate a turtle’s scale with a scraped-off fish scale. Turtle’s scale is part of the skin. You cannot accidentally remove scales except when they are shedding. Even if some scutes will peel, do not remove them forcibly until they shed naturally.

One of the main functions of scales is to protect turtles from attacks by other animals. When sea turtles eat jellyfish, the jellyfish will attack turtles with its sting. Scutes will be immune to the attack, and they can safely consume jellyfish without any harm.


Do Turtles Have Scales Or Skin?

Turtle has skins and scales at the same time. Turtles have skin that is available bony protection under it. After the shell covers all body parts, there are special skin features called scales.

You can see clearly when the turtle has scutes from the legs and tail. If you can hold their arm, you can feel how hard the scale is like a hard skin.

Every reptile has scales on the top layer of its skin. The scale will have different shapes, sizes, and structures depending on the species.

If any new pet owners want to own a turtle, they will ask about “do turtles have scales or skins” because they think turtles have hard skins for their body armor. Scales and scutes serve as additional protection for the turtle.


Do Sea Turtles Have Scales?

Sea turtles have hard scales. Each sea turtle species has a different arrangement of scales. If you want to know where the scales are in sea turtle body parts, you can find them on a second layer made of keratin. It will protect the sea turtles and prevent water loss.

Do sea turtles have scales? Yes, they do. Scutes also have different functions depending on their location around the body. One species has a rubbery shell. It is different from other sea turtles, which have hard scales from keratin.

Do all sea turtles have scales made of keratin? No. Leatherback sea turtles are known for their leathery and waxy skin. It makes their skin semi-flexible and has a different structure with each sea turtle with its hard scales.

Do green sea turtles have scales? If each sea turtle has two pairs near its eye, the green sea turtle only has one pair. For other things, the green sea turtle does not have a significant difference. They have scutes, which will protect them from bacteria, predator attacks, or some poisonous prey.


Do Tortoises Have Scales?

Tortoises have much harder scales than turtles. You can see on the front legs they are heavily armored with scales. Certain species have scales like spines or spurs that are useful for keeping predators away.

The tough scale of the tortoises makes their skin feel dry and quite wrinkled. It can be hard to tell the tortoises apart when they are dehydrated. When you compare tortoises to turtles, scales or scutes will be smoother and look almost integrated with their shell.

Do turtles and tortoises have scales? Yes, they do. This question will answer the question “do turtles have scales.” It often arises because many people conclude that turtles do not have scales compared to tortoises’ scutes.


Do Turtles Have Scales Or Smooth Skin?

You can tell if a turtle has smooth skin or hard scales from how it adapts to its life. When they are in the wild with harsh conditions and many external threats, their scutes will grow over time and get stronger.

Keratin gives turtles crusty and thick skin. Except for certain species that have scales that are not of keratin. The smooth skin in special species does not have keratin in its scutes. Hard scales play an essential role in protecting the body of all turtle species.

Do turtles have scales? Yes, turtles have scales. Turtles have scutes from birth. Only on the head that there are no scales. But this does not apply to the sea turtle, because every sea turtle has scales on its head.


Do Turtles And Alligators Have Larger Scales Than Squamates?

We can see a significant difference if we compare the scales of alligators and sea turtle scales with squamates. Having scales does not mean having the same quality with the same level of hardness and function. Turtles and alligators are known for their hard scutes and larger shapes.

We may see the squamates have scales all over their bodies. Unlike the turtle, several body parts are not all protected by scales. Alligators have scutes with the same pattern that occurs in their back.

If they are in the water too long, the turtles will shed their scales and have a new scute with better quality. Scutes will ensure that the turtle is not getting into a parasite infection or shell rot.


Do Green Sea Turtles Have Scales?

Green sea turtles are easily distinguished from other sea turtles by the single pair scales on their prefrontal scales. We already know that the green sea turtle has a scale from their eyes. There are 4 lateral scutes in the green sea turtle.

Each scale does not overlap. The turtle’s shell color is a shade from brown to olive. There is also a Pacific green sea turtle that has a black or dark gray shell. If people ask about “do green turtles have scales,” they may have never seen the species before. Many people think that not all sea turtles have scales.


Do Turtles Have Gills And Scales?

Reptiles live more often on land than in water. They have lungs than gills and may not have teeth. People think turtles have gills after seeing sea turtles who like to spend their time diving underwater. The scales of a turtle are specialized plates known as scutes.

Do turtles have scales
Do turtles have scales?

Scutes will cover all parts of the shell. It will provide benefits to the turtles to protect them from various kinds of harm in the water or on land. Turtles become hardy animals because of the help of scales that protect them from all kinds of harm.


Do All Turtles Have Scales?

Every turtle has scales and has been around since they were born. Although scales have different strengths and abilities in each species, scales will develop to be tougher and bigger according to the turtle’s body shape.

You don’t need to be confused if there is a white color near the shell that looks like it will peel off. That is the process turtle will replace its scutes with new ones. Do not intervene in the peeling process to avoid scarring or the production of new, imperfect scutes.

Do sea turtles have scales? Every sea turtle has scales. The clear difference between sea turtles and turtles that usually live on land is their eyes. Sea turtles have two pairs of scales near their eyes to protect those who are often in the water.


What Turtles Have Scales?

All turtles have scales. Green sea turtles, snapping turtles, red-eared sliders, softshell turtles are some types of turtles that you can see have scales on their bodies. Each top of the shell has scutes to protect them from harm and predators.

The scales or bony plates on turtles are divided into visible sections. The turtle has scales that cover the entire shell. You can distinguish the location of the scutes from each segment. The table below is the identification for turtle’s scutes.

Turtle scutesExplanation
Vertebral scuteTop of the carapace, one row from the top to bottom.
Pleural scuteScutes between vertebral and marginal scute. You can count this scutes in pairs.
Margnial scuteOn the edge of the carapace.
Nuchal scuteDirectly behind the head.

If someone asks about “do turtles have scales” you can tell them what scales are made of and which parts you can show them to place the scutes in the turtle’s shell.


Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Have Scales?

Red-eared sliders have the same scale as all other turtles. The scutes or scales are also made of keratin. The top layer of the scutes will peel off as the red-eared slider gets older. This species is very popular in the United States and various other parts of the world as the most traded turtle in the world.

Red-eared sliders originate from northern Mexico and the Southern United States. Became invasives in various areas and had outcompeted the native species.

Do turtles have scales? Many pet owners notice that red-eared sliders have scales when they care for them. At a certain time, a whitish layer will appear as if it will peel off.

Let the scutes shed until they grow wider and stronger. The more developed the shell, the larger the scutes will grow.


Final Verdict – Do Turtles Have Scales

Each turtle has scales as a layer of protection to protect them from predators, preventing water loss, abrasion, and harsh environment. Turtles are reptiles that have scales in several parts of their body, including covering their shell.

Turtle scales or scutes can peel off when the time comes and grow to a higher quality. Do not intervene when there are scutes that peel off naturally. If you force them to peel the scutes, it will damage their scutes quality.

Do turtles have scales
Do turtles have scales? Do turtles have scales as pets? Do turtles have scales in the wild?

You can see the scutes at the top of the shell from the various segments. There is the middle, the right and left, the edge of the shell, and the back of the head.

Each turtle has scales on its legs and tail. Sea turtles are species that have scales on their heads, while other turtles do not have scales on their heads.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet turtle a good and comfortable life!

Post Disclaimer


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, food recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for pet food related questions.

Leave a Comment