The turtle shell is generally referred to as a shielding part of a turtle’s anatomy. However, the shell is a lot more than just a shield. It is a vital part of the turtle’s anatomy. So not only does it provide protection but the shell has a specific function.
The shell of the turtle is a part of its body, not just something it carries around. The shell itself is made of plates of bones and below that you find the plastron while the upper part is known as carapace. The carapace aspect of the shell holds the spinal column and the ribs. It the shell is damaged the turtle will bleed through it, think of the shell like your fingernails. It is a hard substance that is part of your body but if you injure it, blood will seep through.
The shell serves as an armor for the turtle. When it is attacked by predators, it can easily take haven in the shell. The structure of the shell is hard enough to withstand scratches from smaller predators.
Can a turtle survive without its shell?
In short, no. You will find very rare cases in which a turtle survives without it’s shell. As mentioned above, the shell houses a lot of the organs and houses the ribs and spinal column of the turtle. So without the shell, a turtle would not be able to survive for too long, if at all.
There have been instances where a turtle have outgrown their shell. At this point the turtle may feel discomfort but remain in the shell. The scutes on the shell start to peel off, sort of shed and make way for new, larger scutes to grow.