Bottom inside mouth, hard shelf?

--chele

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Fallbrook, Southern CA
Hi everyone,
Something seems to have grown inside our sulcata's mouth.

Unlike googled images of a tortoises mouth open, pink, with their tongue sticking out, our sulcata seems to have a shelf on the bottom part of his mouth inside. I first noticed something weird maybe 1.5y ago but it only seemed as if the front row of his "teeth" had slightly moved inward one row. At this time when he'd eat you could clearly see him using his tongue & bunch of slobber etc. I figured it would fall away, like new/old teeth or his skin/growing ( I know they don't have teeth). Since I work, I didn't catch that more recently his eating had changed - not that he is not eating. He's not showing any sickness symptoms. But he started leaving lettuce and carrot leftovers as if he shred them into little bits with his mouth instead of eating everything. Then I witnessed when he scarfs food down he takes a second to swallow, it may even come back into his mouth then he swallows it. You can no longer see him using his tongue freely. The growth seems to now cover a good part of the bottom of his mouth inside. I know food gets stuck right there on top of the shelf and I fear it makes food stuck at the top of his mouth inhibiting breathing and that the shelf may be inhibiting use of his tongue and maybe he's "swallowing" it, it being now behind this shelf closer to his throat.

I'm in the process of forcing him to open his mouth so I can get a clean picture. When I see it though, through yawns, it looks just like a hard shelf over the bottom front of his mouth. Anyone seen this happen to their tort? Googling thinks its mouth rot but as I said, he's functioning fine otherwise and his poops normal as ever. I want to just prop his mouth open to "brush his teeth" to see if it'll pop off.

~20y old, lives outside, grazes everywhere but is a Very picky eater - he doesn't eat what's bad for him (& sometimes what's good for him), he gets sprayed with water when he likes/soaked not as often as I'd like but my sister is really good at forcing him to soak! Other food would be romaine, carrots, those tortoise pellets but this is more a treat and a sneaky way to get water in him because he loves romaine. No injuries.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,051
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
I've seen some pretty wierdly growing beaks in this species, but it's usually outward growth, not inward. It needs to be trimmed off because it makes it hard for them to eat.
 

Ink

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jun 10, 2016
Messages
1,261
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Could it be a piece of wood or something stuck in his jaw
 

--chele

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Fallbrook, Southern CA
Thank you for the replies!

Try getting Pictures.
I'm trying! XD I wish we got him familiar with us opening his mouth. We haven't done it since he was very little.
I've seen some pretty wierdly growing beaks in this species, but it's usually outward growth, not inward. It needs to be trimmed off because it makes it hard for them to eat.
Yes! It seems like an inward growth. I always thought it was weird I never had to trim his beak... maybe it was being sneaky.
Could it be a piece of wood or something stuck in his jaw
When I get a toothbrush in there I'll have a better idea what "material " it is. It doesn't move at all as far as I can tell.
 

--chele

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Fallbrook, Southern CA
I wasn't able to get a picture but I tried my hand at first time YT videos. Its windy so be careful with volume.

1)
2)
3)

It's a few minutes of him eating. I think the 1st video gets the closest to what the shelf might look like. The other 2 are more to get a feel for it by seeing how he eats/potential complications. I'm so glad I saw his tongue in action working fine but before he used to be able to lick up those mazuri pellets. I rinsed his mouth after these because I don't want any mouth rot.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,051
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
You may need to take him to a vet so he can be anesthetized. But that excess growth of keratin needs to be taken off. It inhibits his biting off the food. I tried to find pictures of the rescue sulcata I took in a few years ago, but there are so many pictures and I'm not good at naming them so I can go back and find them. But this sulcata had excess keratin growing on his lower beak just like your tortoise, only his never bent back into the mouth. His was sticking straight out in front. The fellow I adopted the tortoise out to told me that he has to trim the excess of about every four or five months. Not all sulcatas have this problem, but some do, and it's not an isolated incident.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,051
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Sometimes. Some tortoises can hold their breath or a very long time, and don't inhale. Some tortoises have an adverse reaction to it, and some take a long time to come out of it. This is why you need to consult a vet with tortoise experience. There are several in SoCal. @Kapidolo Farms what is the name of the vet who did Darth's surgery? Was it Boyer? And where is he located?
 

--chele

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Fallbrook, Southern CA
I did reach out to another Dr. in San Diego we've seen one time before recommended by the SD tortoise society. I'm worried about cost and naturally the effects. I caught my tortoise heavy breathing today so I know we have to make a decision soon.
 
Top