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beak trimming

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by Yvonne G, Jul 16, 2012.

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  1. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    My tortoise partner has moved from the east coast to the west coast. He and his wife are temporarily living with his mother in Northern Calif. He came down to visit me today and we trimmed some badly over grown beaks.

    My Manouria tortoises' beaks require a trim about once a year. They live outside and graze, however their beaks grow either funny or over-grown.

    We put the tortoise on a 5 gallon bucket and we use a Dremmel Tool with a metal cutting edge. William (my partner) first makes a line across where he wants to cut the beak, then he starts grinding away on that line.

    This is Darth. I forgot to get a picture before William started, and in the picture, half the beak is done already. Darth's beak grows long, flares out at the bottom, and splits up the middle. The white in the picture is beak dust:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    This is Phae. Its not always easy to get to the mouth. And Phae's beak grows in a scissors shape, with the top growing outside of the bottom only on one side, and the bottom grows up on the other side. I didn't get a good picture to show you the "scissor."
    [​IMG]




    This is Medea. She has a really thick upper beak. I've seen pictures of adult Manouria tortoises and quite a lot of them have Medea's same beak, so I think it's sort of normal for the species:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    KrissyLeigh likes this.
  2. TortoiseBoy1999

    TortoiseBoy1999 Active Member

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    Poor things :'( they are so lucky to have you! :)
  3. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Can a hoof trimmer work? Just wondering. I don't know if I would ever want to do it myself, although, I have trimmed, birds beaks, rabbits teeth, horse hoofs, dog, cat and bird nails, hmmm, not sure if I am forgetting something. Anyway. I hate dremmels. I never seem to be able to control it. So, if one doesn't feel safe with a high speed rotating tool, could they use a hoof trimmer? Which one would be less stressful or less painful, the dremmel or hoof trimmer? If you know? Also, is there a way of knowing where to cut, like a toe nail has the quick, does the beak have something, or do you just take it down to just past the bottom jaw?
    BTW, thanks for sharing the photos.
  4. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    The beak has a quick just like nails do. And if you cut too short, it will bleed and be painful.

    I used to do it myself, all by myself, and I used a horse hoof trimmer. Its like a pliers only it cuts at the tip. Then one day Darth jerked his head just as I was applying the pressure to make the clip, and his beak split right up the middle. It was VERY painful for him...and he actually screamed. So I've never used that tool again. Now we always use the Dremmel.
  5. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Ouch, that would make me stop using it too. The quick can't be seen once it is over grown can it? On a dogs nail, the quick can be seen on the underside of the nail. When the beak gets long can the quick be seen? I assume not, but Tatum is a little small to look in his mouth under his beak yet.:D
  6. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    I don't know about on other types of tortoise, but on these, with the black beaks, no you can't see the quick. William actually did make one of the smaller tortoises bleed a bit. Its hard to know how far to go.
  7. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Thank you. Hopefully I will never have to worry about it or at least for a few years. I will have to practice with the dremmel in the mean time and get that steady hand and control down :D
  8. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    On box turtles I've used a toe nail clipper. I've never had to trim beaks on any other tortoise besides a rescued Steppe. I used the toe nail clipper on him too. The Dremmel (in my opinion) is too much muscle for a smaller beak.
  9. alben909

    alben909 New Member

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    They are lucky you have them in your care now
  10. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I thought maybe they were reenacting scarface.
  11. Ethan D

    Ethan D New Member

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    Nice, you seem to take good care of them :D they are lucky to have you.
  12. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Well, that makes me happy. I do feed on a piece of tile, both inside and out, plus he grazes, so I don't think I will have to worry about it. Just making sure I am prepare just incase. I am a big planner, I like thinkgs all thought out way ahead of time. :D
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  13. Falcon70

    Falcon70 Active Member

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    With the steppe tortoise and box turtle, how did you manage to get to his beak so you could trim? Whenever I get near my Russian's head, he pulls right back inside.
  14. Jacqui

    Jacqui Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Simply astonishes me, how much they grow each year.
  15. DesertGrandma

    DesertGrandma Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I am wondering the same thing. How do you keep the tortoise's head out where you can reach it? Don't they try to pull it back in?[hr]
    And, thanks for this post. It is very informative with the photos.
  16. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    For some unknown reason, those big tortoises can't seem to pull inside real tight like the smaller ones do. For the box turtles and steppe tortoise you have to wait until he has his head sticking way out. Holding them upside down sometimes makes the head come way out. Then you quickly grab him behind his jaws with your thumb and index finger. You hold the head out, then trim or clip or grind with the other hand. I'm sure its a bit painful for the turtle/tortoise, because you have to really hold tight...they're very strong. But its only for a short time and its for their benefit.

    When I clip the box turtles' beaks, using the toe nail clippers, I only take very small bites at a time. Using one edge of the tool, not the whole cutting edge, but just a corner edge, I make a small, triangular shaped clip starting at one edge of the beak and working my way around, clip, clip, clipping until I have gone all the way around from one side to the other. If its pretty uneven, I'll file it smooth, but it usually breaks a bit at the clip, and ends up looking pretty smooth.
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  17. DesertGrandma

    DesertGrandma Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I think I would need some help too. Sounds like holding the head and clipping at the same time would be scary. Not something I would want to attempt by myself.
    LadyKraken likes this.
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