Preserving a Turtle Shell

We hope we didn’t lose you at the post title so please stick with us!

Every Fall, Daughter and her college buddies camp for a long weekend in the North Georgia mountains, usually during UGA’s football bye week. This past camping trip, they took a long hike on the Bartram Trail along the Chattooga River and Daughter’s husband found a turtle shell. Unfortunately for Lisa Turtle, it seems that she flipped on her back and couldn’t recover. The shell was perfectly clean without any of the remaining insides. Daughter immediately wanted to keep the shell and preserve it. Luckily, her husband and friends are used to her wild, crazy ideas. No one thought it was weird! So she brought it home and researched preservation methods for Lisa Turtle.

georgia & daughter: Preserving a Turtle Shell

After extensive research and a lot of competing information, Daughter decided on the following preservation technique. There are several different ways to accomplish this task so please know this is just one way. Also, please understand that we found the shell completely clean and would not hurt any animal for the sheer enjoyment of their shell. Daughter’s husband would not let her bring home a decaying animal, trust us.

Note: Daughter handled the shell with rubber gloves during this process.

To sanitize the shell, Daughter let the outer shell and two smaller pieces soak in Hydrogen Peroxide over night.

This next morning, Daughter used an old toothbrush to really clean the inside of the shell and remove any small bones or ligaments. She let the turtle shell air dry for a day.

georgia & daughter: Preserving a Turtle Shell

Next, Daughter carefully hot glued the smaller pieces to the larger shell to create the turtle’s belly.

georgia & daughter: Preserving a Turtle Shell

Once the turtle shell was cleaned and glued together, Daughter used a clear acrylic spray to seal the turtle shell.



Finally, Daughter had to create a stand for the cloche. This step is optional. You could always use the turtle laying down on top of books, etc.

After searching all of the craft supplies stores, Daughter could not find the perfect stand. She decided to create one with a dowel rod, wood block and hot glue (or wood glue).

She cut the dowel to the desired length and then drilled a hole in the center of the wood block. Make sure to use a drill bit equal to the size of the dowel.

Use a lot of hot glue (or wood glue) to cement the two pieces together.

Paint the stand to desired color, in this case a dark brown.

To adhere the turtle shell to the stand, Daughter used two small dabs of hot glue on the base of the shell and near the center.

Now Lisa Turtle is displayed beautifully on Daughter’s living room bookcase beside a gorgeous photograph of the fall foliage of the North Georgia mountains.

georgia & daughter: Preserving a Turtle Shell

georgia & daughter: Preserving a Turtle Shell

We may not be opening on our taxidermy shop anytime soon, but we enjoyed learning a new preservation technique and Lisa Turtle has a proud new home.

P.S. We hope all of the 90’s children got the reference to Saved by the Bell and Lisa Turtle.

~georgia & daughter

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