painted turtle in large tank

Turtle, my painted turtle, has scutes.

Do you have scutes?

No, you don’t have scutes!

Am I sure you don’t have scutes?

Yes, I’m sure you don’t have scutes!!!

To say that I think Turtle is adorable would be putting it mildly. I think Turtle totally rocks and his scutes are so interesting!

What Is A Scute?

Turtle lives in the water and basks for hours on his docking station. Whether he is in the water or not, Turtle’s shell is very visible. Let me tell you a bit about a turtle’s shell.

painted turtle shell scutes labeled

A scute is the thin external layer or plate of a turtle’s shell.

As I have discussed before, Turtle’s shell looks like he has flecks of shiny gold in it. I never have discovered what causes it or why he has it even though other turtles do not. Maybe it is just the mark of really special turtles. (wink)

painted turtle space between scutes


  1. A turtle’s shell is a bone or to be more specific, many bones joined tightly together.
  2. A turtle can’t crawl out of its shell because it’s attached and is part of their rib cage.
  3. Because the turtle shell has nerve endings, turtles can feel things that come in contact with their shells.
  4. The shell grows at the same rate as the rest of the turtle, so it won’t get too fat for its shell just like a human doesn’t outgrow their ribcage.
    painted turtle scutes on bottom part of shell

  6. The bottom of the turtle shell is called the plastron.
  7. The top of the turtle shell is called the carapace.
  8. The carapace has large sections that are called scutes.
    painted turtle scutes

  10. Scutes act as a shield to protect the turtle.
  11. Scutes serve the same purpose as scales and are very similar to them.
  12. Scutes are thin and made of keratin which is also very much like human fingernails.
  13. The space between the scutes is called fontanelles.
  14. The fontanelles are softer than the surrounding scutes.
    painted turtle shedded scutes

  16. As they grow, turtles shed and slough off their scutes, the outer layer of their shells.
  17. The scute will loosen and fall off naturally and humans should not pull them off.
  18. After the old, sometimes dirty scute falls off, a fresh layer of scutes appear.
  19. Scutes can shed any time of the year.

I personally think that Turtle’s front vertebral scute is the coolest shaped scute of all. When I clean his tank, I always find scutes among the pebbles and the first thing I do is check to see if it is the really cool shaped scute.

Yes, I’m a bit silly.

painted turtle double water illusion

Turtle is a pretty cool shaped scute dude. There are so many different and special aspects to his body and personality that simply amaze me. Turtle is just so interesting to watch and study.

When I’m able to take real close up pictures of him and then look at them on my computer monitor, I can see the tiniest of his features. For instance, under his nostrils there is a two pronged white fang shaped piece of skin. I have no idea what it is called or the function, but I think it looks pretty cool! I wouldn’t ever be able to see small features like that if I didn’t blow his pictures up large on my computer monitor.

Turtle’s nostrils are one of the coolest aspects of his body simply because I can actually see that he has two nostrils. LOL

painted turtle visible nose holes

I sure do love Turtle!

6 have RITTEN comments ★