Will the Shell Regrow After Being Chewed By A Dog?

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Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
This little Russian came to me in 2011. His top layer of keratin had been completely chewed off by a dog:

keratin regrowth 1.jpg

The lighter beige areas are the bone that's under the keratin. The bone eventually dies, but take heart. . . new keratin will grow back! BUT - it doesn't grow over the dead bone, it grows UNDER the dead bone.

The bone, now being dead, stays the exact same size that it was when it died, however, the tortoise under that dead bone keeps growing as it matures. Eventually the new, bigger size under the dead bone causes the dead bone to start popping off. You can see that starting to happen here, on the right side of the picture where the big crack is. I picked off a tiny bit just under the crack so you can see what's happening under the dead bone:
keratin regrowth 2.jpg

And now, here he is with all the dead bone gone and the brand new keratin showing. It's not quite as pretty as the old 'design' on the tortoise's shell, and doesn't have the same pattern, but it's every bit as strong as the old:

keratin regrowth 3.jpg

The spots where the old keratin wasn't injured, kept the bone under those parts alive, so those scutes didn't shed off.

I should add that this re-growth takes a VERY LONG TIME! Maybe even over a year. It also depends upon how big the tortoise was at the time of the injury. If it happens to a young tortoise that is still actively growing, it won't take as long for the dead bone to pop off as it will take for a fully mature tortoise that's not growing.
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