Can a tortoise's claws be trimmed? If not, is there anyway to shorten overgrown claws?

Tolis the tortoise

New Member
Jan 22, 2021
Location (City and/or State)
This is something I have been wondering, can a tortoise's claws be trimmed? If not, is there anything you can do to shorten overgrown claws? My tortoise does not have overgrown claws but I noticed some species like Russians, can get really long claws. I am wondering if the same thing can happen to different species. If yes, how do you shorten them?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I am looking forward to helpful answers.
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The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
You can clip or dremmel them, but this is rarely needed. Some species, like Russians, or like female leopard's back claws, are supposed to be longer than "normal" for digging and nesting.


Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Crazy Train
They have longer claws so they can dig to make a nest in the hard ground, Russians use longer claws to climb out out enclosures that are inescapable to other torts, they use longer claws to rip and tear their food.
Personally I would never trim any chelonian. Male water turtles use their longer front claws to fan the face of his female breeding partner.

bonsai tortoise

5 Year Member
Mar 16, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Like previous comments, many species are supposed to have long claws which naturally wear down to proper length with use whether it’s digging or walking on different kinds of substrate. I always find it helpful to keep a few flat rocks or concrete pavers in the enclosure in areas where they have to walk. So I put them under the heat lamp and sometimes places them in front of their hide area. It forces them to walk on it to get to where they need to go and helps keep nails trimmed a little bit. It also adds interest to the enclosure for viewing and the tortoise.