When A Turtle Ԁɪᴇs, Something Comes Out f It

It is inevitable that sometimes a pet you so dearly own may pass away. In the case of it being a mammal or even certain smaller pets like the fish, you take a look at their condition and tell if they are ԀᴇɑԀ or not, there is hardly any room for ambiguity there.
But that is not the case with the turtle. A turtle’s physiological design is such that it becomes very difficult to ascertain if it has really passed away or is undergoing brumation. And What happens to turtles when they Ԁɪᴇ?

How do turtles look when they Ԁɪᴇ?

All pets must Ԁɪᴇ at some point in time which is a sad but realistic certainty. While turtles can live to a ripe old age of around 80, it may be difficult to recognize the signs that they have passed on. Turtles benefit from a shell that keeps their body out of sight yet that also means it may prove difficult to tell if your turtle has Ԁɪᴇd or is simply brumating.
There are still some telltale signs that you can use to check that your turtle is brumating and is not ԀᴇɑԀ:
The turtle starts to get stiff after about 3 to 12 hours of death. However, the stiffness goes usually after a couple of days and the body loosens up. Also, the eyes start to sink in, a liquid may dribble out from the mouth and nose of the turtle.

Unresponsiveness, Cold to the touch, Limbs, Bad smell, Flies/maggots, Cold to the touch, Sunken eyes, Bad smell, Flies and maggots are signs of ԀᴇɑԀ turtles

Do turtles Ԁɪᴇ with their eyes open?

A ԀᴇɑԀ turtle’s eyes will sometimes be partially open. When the muscles that regulate the eye’s lens relax, the eyelids separate, and you may notice a thin layer of liquid between them. This liquid acts as a ‘lubricant,’ allowing the lids to separate easily as they become dry during decomposition. The hard part of the eye, known as the ‘crystalline lens,’ remains intact even in a ԀᴇɑԀ turtle’s eye.

Turtles still open their eyes after death

What Exactly Happens To Turtles When They Ԁɪᴇ?

Decomposition is the main process that occurs after the death of an animal. When animals Ԁɪᴇ, tissues immediately begin breaking down, supported by bacteria, fungi, and various microorganisms.
A foul odor is released as their body decomposes, and gases form in their ԀᴇɑԀ body. These gases that get created inside the ԀᴇɑԀ turtles increase their buoyancy and make them float on water.

A turtle that is ԀᴇɑԀ should also float on the water, not flip over whenever placed on its back, and emits a foul odor.

Five Stages Of Decomposition Of A ԀᴇɑԀTurtle

Turtles decompose relatively quickly. Tiny microorganisms feed on the tissues, producing gases. The gases carry an obnoxious, unpleasant odor and occur during the second stage of decomposition. There are five total stages, including:
Discoloration: Decomposition begins with the discoloration of the skin due to chemical changes in the tissues.
Bloating: The bloat stage is when the annoying odors appear. The accumulation of gases inside the turtle causes the abdominal area to bloat. The bloated body is likely to float when placed in water.
Depending on the environment, active decay may occur within several days or several weeks.
Skin slip: As decomposition goes on, the skin about the neck usually loosens and slips off, exposing the head beneath. At this stage, you can generally make out the shape of the turtle’s skull, jaws, and front legs through its translucent skin. The eyeballs are also visible through the thin tissue.
Putrefaction: Skins of turtles lose their essential elements (water, proteins, and salts) during decomposition, which leads to putrefaction (corrosion caused by bacteria). Instead of bloating, the turtle cadaver starts to wither. The smells attract maggots, insects, and other critters to aid decomposition.
This stage can be highly disgusting to humans and other animals, so make sure to keep your distance from the turtle.
Decomposition: When the maggots and insects stop feeding on the corpse, it reaches advanced decay. This stage lasts for several months or years. Again, the duration depends on the environment. Eventually, the only remains left are the dry bones of the turtle and its shell.

Why do turtle shells decompose slowly?

While the soft tissues, including skin and organs, decompose quickly, the hard shell takes a long time to decay. The turtle shell is comprised of various bony elements, including the ribs and parts of the pelvis.
The shells of turtles and tortoises are complex structures. The outside layer (the scute) comprises the epidermis with protein fibers to strengthen the scutes. This protein also makes the shell water-resistant.
Beneath this outer layer lies a middle layer of keratin (also found in hair and nails), and beneath this is the third layer of calcareous material known as the osteoderm.

Turtles and tortoises can actually vary in size by up to 25% (a 25% change in shell size) throughout their lifetime.

This shell acts like a suit of armor that protects the turtle from outside threats. The turtle shells remain behind after everything else decomposes. When a turtle’s body decomposes, minerals in its connective tissues are released into the shell. These minerals turn the cover into a solid stone that becomes very hard and heavy.
For this process to begin, bacteria in the turtle’s body must break down its organs so they can be reabsorbed by its body for nourishment.
This is when you might see a greenish-black fluid oozing out of the turtle’s nostrils, mouth, and anus. When this occurs, it means that the body tissues are breaking down to be absorbed by the turtle’s shell.

How To Preserve The Shell Of A ԀᴇɑԀ Turtle?

Living turtles contain a mineral known as ‘calcium phosphate’ in their skeletal structures, which makes up about 40% of the weight of their bones. This mineral gives turtles and tortoises their solid appearance and makes them so buoyant in water.
When a turtle Ԁɪᴇs, this mineral begins to dissolve in water which is why you’ll discover that a ԀᴇɑԀ turtle’s shell becomes very soft when it is decomposing. If you want to keep the turtle shell, you need to first remove any remaining flesh and tissue.
After thoroughly cleaning the shell, allow it to dry for another day or two and then apply a lacquer. The lacquer seals the shell and protects the scutes from decay.

What to Do with a ԀᴇɑԀ Turtle?

To dispose of a ԀᴇɑԀ tortoise, you can bury it in the yard or at a pet cemetery. When burying a tortoise, you can preserve its shell or allow it to decompose. It must be buried 3-4 feet down, and place something heavy on the grave so wild animals can’t dig it up.
Alternatively, you can cremate the tortoise. The crematorium will return the ashes or dispose of them. While cremation is more expensive, it can make the grieving process more bearable.
When cremating a tortoise, the costs range from $40-$350, with added services such as pickup, viewing rooms, and urns.

What to Do with a ԀᴇɑԀ Turtle?

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