What is scutes?
The word has red underline when I type it on MS word which means that the dictionary in my MS Word doesn’t recognize the word, it also has red underline on wordpress when I copy-pasted what I have written on word to here…however, scutes really is a word.
According to freedictionary.com, scute is
A horny, chitinous, or bony external plate or scale, as on the shell of a turtle or the underside of a snake. Also called scutum.
Look at Kame’s picture to understand it better:
I do believe that every time someone draws a turtle, he/she always draws the small uneven boxes on its carapace, like this image:
But I am willing to bet that not everyone knows that those pattern is called scute. We Indonesian don’t have a name for scute, so every time I talk about it I have to explain it first.
According to turtlepuddle.org,
Turtles are reptiles whose protection comes from a shell. The shell is composed of hard, bone plates covered by scutes. The scutes are made of keratin, the primary substance in hair, nails and hooves of other animals. The pigment melanin, present in the scutes, may form intricate designs and brightly colored patterns in some species.
Although the scutes form the familiar outer layer of the shell, it is the bony layer underneath which actually provides the shape, support and protective qualities of the turtle shell. The inner layer of bone is fused with the usual bony structures associated with all vertebrates, the vertebral column and ribs.
These scutes will shed when the turtle is getting bigger. Snake changes its skin and turtle changes its scutes. When the scutes have shed, the new scutes usually have different color to the old ones, it either becomes brighter or darker.
My Kame had a much brighter new scutes when her old scutes shed.
I don’t know how it is with other turtles, but the turtles I have who had shed their scutes showed different shedding behaviour.
Kame shed her scutes beautifully. All of them shed one by one in a very nice shape, so nice that I ended up putting them all back together again, then I framed it and put it on my wall (It become my most priceless possession, one that even a mountain of gold can’t buy it of off me). I have shared it long time ago in a post called They Are on The Wall Now:
These are pictures of Kame’s perfect scutes (I posted it on my deviantart account years ago)
HOWEVER, my dear Kroten has different kind of shedding. She doesn’t shed her scutes nicely like Kame. All her shed scutes are not perfect. I know I will not be able to put Kroten’s scutes together like Kame but I still keep them all in a box.
Papoe also shed his scute few months ago (he hasn’t shed another scute ever since). His scute is so thin and small. I am still waiting for him to shed more bas he is getting bigger now
Kurome hasn’t shown any sign of shedding yet.
To let you know about scute and shedding, for the next there weeks, I am going to repost Kame’s old posts about her shedding process.
I hope you enjoy this bit of turtle fact 🙂
Warning: DO NOT pull off the scute!!
Let it pull off by themselves, if you force it, it can make the turtle stress.
To read previous Turtle Facts, you can click our page: Turtle Fact.