Is Your Turtle Shell Pyramiding? Why & How to Fix

Pyramiding occurs when obvious pyramid deformities can be seen on your turtle’s shell scutes. This condition is caused by the shell’s scale-like portions, known as scutes, growing upwards rather than out to keep up with the reptile’s body development.

Pyramiding is a condition that can affect all turtles and tortoises, including yellow-bellied sliders, and is, unfortunately, caused by malnutrition. Note that this condition is uncommon and is only considered harmful if severe.

Continue reading to learn more about why your yellow-bellied slider’s shell is pyramiding, what causes a turtle’s shell to pyramid, how to fix turtle shell pyramiding, and more.

Why Is My Turtle Shell Pyramiding?

The exact cause of why your turtle’s shell begins to form pyramid-like deformities is unknown, although excess protein in the diet appears to be the most likely factor. Other factors that have also been linked to pyramiding include poor calcium absorption and a lack of exercise.

What Causes a Turtle’s Shell to Pyramid?

Inactivity and poor nutrition are the most common reasons for the pyramiding of turtles.

Poor Diet

Pyramiding in turtles is thought to be mainly caused by a poor diet. As a result, owners should be aware that pyramiding can be caused by overfeeding, allowing your turtle to absorb too much protein, fat, or a calcium-phosphorus imbalance.

Lack of Exercise

Shell pyramiding can also be caused by inactivity. This is especially common in turtles kept inside, as many live in tiny cages that prevent them from getting enough activity.

How Do You Fix a Turtle Shell Pyramid?

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop once pyramiding has started. The shell and the underlying bone structure have taken on a permanent form, exactly as they would if they were developed properly.

As a result, the problem will not worsen if the fundamental reasons for pyramiding are addressed. Therefore, if your turtle’s shell isn’t severe enough to obstruct mobility or respiration, your tortoise should have the same quality of life as one with a naturally formed shell.

When Should I Be Worried?

The problem of turtle shell pyramiding is not easy to solve. After all, Pyramiding is considered a major health issue that requires immediate attention and treatment. As a result, owners should treat this problem as soon as they see the first indications of pyramiding in their turtles.

Final Thoughts

When visible pyramid abnormalities can be observed on your turtle’s shell scutes, this is called pyramiding. This condition causes the individual scale-like sections of the shell, called scutes, to grow upwards rather than out to keep up with the reptile’s body development.

Overall, pyramiding is a disorder that can afflict any turtle, including yellow-bellied sliders, and is most likely caused by malnutrition or a lack of exercise. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop pyramiding once it has begun. As a result, addressing the underlying causes of pyramiding as soon as possible will prevent the problem from worsening. 


Chris is a reptile enthusiast, breeder, and blogger from the Milwaukee, WI area. After breeding hundreds of bearded dragons to supply local pet stores and owning many other types of reptiles, he is now focused on sharing knowledge to help owners properly care for their little reptiles friends.

Related Articles

Back to top button