Beak-trimming on ornate box turtle

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GeoTerraTestudo

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My friend has a wonderful ornate box turtle, whom he's had since we were boys. She's generally in good health and doing well, but her claws and beak were quite overgrown. This morning, I helped my friend clip her claws to normal length, so she's good to go there. However, the beak is considerably more challenging.

We used an emery board, but that only files down a little bit at a time, so at this rate, it might take a month to get the beak to normal length. It's not painful (the turtle feels fine), but it does take time, which can be stressful.

From other threads, I've heard of people taking their turtles to veterinarians, who may use a dremel tool to file down the beak more quickly, and/or a clipper of some kind to cut back the beak as well. Unfortunately, not all vets are adept with these instruments, and sometimes turtles can get hurt, with the beak ending up damaged. Barring real injury, the beak usually grows back, but this can take a while, and in the meantime the turtle may be in pain and not feed normally.

Some members have also used dremel tools successfully to file down the beak themselves.

What do you folks recommend my friend do for his ornate boxie? Take her to a vet, or try to trim the beak at home? I have advised him that, if he does get a vet, he should make sure the vet has experience with this procedure. But if he decides to do it himself, is an emery board a good way to go? If not, what would you recommend? Thanks.
 

RedfootsRule

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Personally, I wouldn't have tried either of these methods. I've never had a tortoise/turtle with an overgrown beak, but in my opinion, the thing to do would put all their food on a flat rock. Over time, it will file down their beak the natural way. Have rough rocks throughout its cage for it to walk over, and this will prevent the nails from growing to long and keep them filed down. Same with the food, after biting the rock again and again for food it should wear down quite nicely.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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I think rough surfaces are a great way to prevent overgrowth, but in this case, the turtle already had very overgrown beak and claws. As I said, trimming the claws was easy, but the beak is not. This animal cannot cut its food like a normal turtle, so that means its beak won't wear down very much by feeding. My friend did put a cuttlebone in the terrarium, and the turtle has started gnawing on it, so that's good. But I don't think that alone will be enough. I think it needs some kind of intervention at this point.
 

Hunahpu

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I just brought my ornate in to our vet for a beak trim this morning. I feed on a slate and give cuttlebone, but its just not quite enough. If the nail file at home isn't doing the trick, I'd recommend the vet. I'll PM you the name of our vet, since we're not too far from you.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Hunahpu said:
I just brought my ornate in to our vet for a beak trim this morning. I feed on a slate and give cuttlebone, but its just not quite enough. If the nail file at home isn't doing the trick, I'd recommend the vet. I'll PM you the name of our vet, since we're not too far from you.

Okay, great. Yes, I just got your PM and forwarded it to my friend. Thanks again!

Interesting how that makes two ornate box turtles with beak trimming issues. I wonder what they're eating in the wild to wear their beak down. Snails?
 

Hunahpu

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GeoTerraTestudo said:
Interesting how that makes two ornate box turtles with beak trimming issues. I wonder what they're eating in the wild to wear their beak down. Snails?

I'm not sure...that's a good question. Our vet recommended giving more winter squashes with the rind on, so we'll see if that helps any.

Our TTBT doesn't have any beak problems at all, and gets the same food as our ornate. She is quite a bit younger though.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I think that more then a rough surface, pulling would work. Regular pulling of weeds or grass or anything actually that is resistant would do well. Or the dremmel is easiest

does that make sense to you?
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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maggie3fan said:
I think that more then a rough surface, pulling would work. Regular pulling of weeds or grass or anything actually that is resistant would do well. Or the dremmel is easiest

does that make sense to you?

My friend has told me that it's hard to get his ornate boxie to eat fibrous vegetation. She likes invertebrates, and she likes leafy greens, but when he offers her something like carrots, she won't go for it. I suppose he has to find something else that makes the turtle work for its meal.

I suggested something I used to do with my redfoot tortoise (which I would have done with my boxies, but I hadn't thought of it yet). Offer cooked chicken drumstick bones with some meat still on the bone. That way, the turtle goes for the meat, and ends up gnawing on the bone, somewhat like a dog. This not only helps wear down the beak, but it also allows the turtle to get some calcium, too. After all, this is what they would do if they encountered a carcass in the forest. :)
 

kanalomele

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I second the chicken bone idea. I actually will just put a carcass from our family dinner in there with them and let them go to town on it. That, a cuttlebone and feeding on stone has always worked for me. One time I even fed worms on a piece of rougher concrete for a guy with a very overgrown beak. After about a week or two of "treats" his beak was just about normal.
 

jojodesca

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I actually will just put a carcass from our family dinner in there with them and let them go to town on it. [/quote said:
would that be a baked lemon pepper chicken..rotisserie or bbq???

lol..sorry...:p
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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kanalomele said:
I second the chicken bone idea. I actually will just put a carcass from our family dinner in there with them and let them go to town on it. That, a cuttlebone and feeding on stone has always worked for me. One time I even fed worms on a piece of rougher concrete for a guy with a very overgrown beak. After about a week or two of "treats" his beak was just about normal.

That also sounds like a good idea. I'll pass that along to my friend, too. :)
 

Hunahpu

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Yum, rotisserie! The chicken bone suggestion sounds like it would be an excellent solution. I'll have to give that a shot too.
 
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