Turtle shells and their gelled products are familiar in some countries as foods, tonics and medicines. These shells may come from endangered and protected species, requiring the identification of the species present to enforce national and international legislation. We report on the design of five combinations of primer pairs for the identification of turtle shells and shell fragments used as ornaments, food products and medicines. The types of samples used are those encountered frequently and will typically contain highly degraded DNA. The success rate for species identification using the test described is dependent upon the choice of primer sets used and the length of the expected amplification product. Gelled products were simulated by the process of decoction for up to 12 h, after which all the turtle species could be identified from the liquid samples. This study establishes a method for the identification of commercial turtle shells and illustrates a simulated case using gelled products.