Painting a turtle’s shell, whether the turtle is a pet or a wild animal, is an act of cruelty that causes the animal very serious harm. Turtle shells are not “dead”— they are part of the animal’s living organ system. Turtles absorb sunlight through their shells and convert it to vitamin D. When the shell is coated in paint, it blocks the absorption of this essential nutrient, leading to a serious disorder known as metabolic bone disease. The turtle’s shell, jaw, and internal body become deformed and it ends up dying a slow, painful death. Turtles with painted shells also lose their natural camouflage and are left as clear targets for predators. If you’d like to use turtle shells in your art, use the shells of animals that have already passed away of natural causes. A living turtle’s shell needs to be left alone.