Healing Shell Damage

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chairman

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I just adopted a WC Female Home's Hingeback. She very obviously was chewed on by something in Africa. She has a small puncture or two that has long healed over on her shell, but I am more concerned about the front of her shell. Whatever went after her focused its attention at the part of the shell above her head. Most of the scutes in the front are shorter than they should be and the outer layer of her shell is a little peeled back from the edge (though no longer looks to be peeling). I believe that the bone of her shell is exposed on the front edge and a little on the top edge. However, the damage looks to be rather old and very well scarred. I haven't had her long enough (1 day) to determine whether she is acting 100% ok, but she is quite active and has drank/soaked herself voluntarily. The parts of her shell that weren't chewed (like 95% of it) is very healthy looking in terms of color, smoothness, etc. Also, no damage anywhere near the hinge. But on to the titular question...

What do I do to help the shell? She's going to get frequent betadine baths this week, but is there more to do? (She'll only get betadine baths 2-3 times a year after this week. And the baths constitute her sitting in warm water while I use a toothbrush dipped in betadine to scrub her shell.) Should I put a topical like neosporin on it? How about something like nuskin to cover it? Maybe that nail nutrient stuff you brush on to help heal human fingernails (I've heard the material is very similar to tortoise shell)?

Right now the only courses of action I am taking for the shell are betadine and calcium supplements, but I'd like to do more if I can before she gets to the vet (don't want to take her till she poos). Advice would be greatly appreciated. Pics of damage will be posted when I get to my camera in a couple hours.
 

chairman

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Here are some pics of the damage.
IMG_2688s.JPG
IMG_2689s.JPG
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Mike, Betadine should only be used once as it not only kills the bacteria it also kills the white cells that are needed for new growth. If you feel the need to use something like Betadine more then just once, use Chlorhexidine instead...do you think the wounds on the shell are open? If they are old you aren't going to accomplish anything. The Betadine baths just aren't a good idea, Betadine is harsh and I think you would be doing more damage then good to bath her a couple of times a day in it. It needs to be dry to repair itself...the Chlorhexidine would be your best bet...
 

Yvonne G

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It DOES look a little red along the front edge, but I THINK it is old and healed. It is purely cosmetic now. Nothing you can do about it. It doesn't hurt her and it won't grow back.
 

egyptiandan

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I agree with Yvonne :) That looks to be old healed shell damage. What your seeing is completely dead bone, which will eventually loosen up and come off.

Danny
 

-EJ

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It does look like old damage. Leave it alone. It's really interesting in that the keratin seems to be secreted by the bone. The exposed bone will not fall off as such but there is a living layer under the exposed bone that will develope a layer of keratin... the dead bone on top of that will flake off over time.

(yvonne... are you gonna slap Danny for presenting incomplete info. If a newbe was to read what he posted there might be the assumption that the entire exposed bone would fall off...)
 

Yvonne G

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Danny...consider yourself slapped!!

204527eqhxdrot0s.gif


(and Ed, thanks for that more clear explanation. I've always wondered how the tortoise could grow new bone under the layer of dead bone, now I know!)
 

chairman

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Thanks for all the input. Looks like no more betadine for her; I wasn't aware that it was 'harsh'. I thought the damaged area was old and healed too, but I wanted to make sure it didn't require ongoing treatment. You know, an ounce of prevention...
 

-EJ

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Considering the previous conversations... every time I see this post I giggle. Where did you find that. It's special funny because of what I said. I really hope I never get that arrogant.

I don't understand the mechanics but I know you've seen it... especially if you've dealt with wild caught animals.

I'll try and post some photos of my leopard which I hatched out. She has a section on her plastron which has dead bone.

emysemys said:
Danny...consider yourself slapped!!

204527eqhxdrot0s.gif


(and Ed, thanks for that more clear explanation. I've always wondered how the tortoise could grow new bone under the layer of dead bone, now I know!)





[/quote]
 

Yvonne G

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-EJ said:
I don't understand the mechanics but I know you've seen it... especially if you've dealt with wild caught animals.

No, really, I never knew that the white, dead places would come off. But 6 months or so ago I posted a picture of a tortoise with that kind of damage and Danny mentioned that it looked like it was ready to come off and for me to try to pick at it a bit. I did, and it came right off. I was amazed!

I can't tell you how I find the cute pictures that I post on the forum, because then I'd have to kill you.
 

-EJ

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It might have been recently but I told you I know you've seen it. You don't deal with as many animals as we do and not come across it.

I've seen some horrid/amazing examples in the case of burn victums such as boxies and Gopher tortoises that reside in the pine forests that experience frequent controlled burns.

There was a recent post on a herp forum where a boxies entire shell was exposed. The photographer thought the turtle was dead when it popped it's head out of the shell.

emysemys said:
-EJ said:
I don't understand the mechanics but I know you've seen it... especially if you've dealt with wild caught animals.

No, really, I never knew that the white, dead places would come off. But 6 months or so ago I posted a picture of a tortoise with that kind of damage and Danny mentioned that it looked like it was ready to come off and for me to try to pick at it a bit. I did, and it came right off. I was amazed!

I can't tell you how I find the cute pictures that I post on the forum, because then I'd have to kill you.
 

egyptiandan

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If a complete explanation is necessary, than here goes. :D

When bone is exposed (if the keratin (scute) layer has been damaged or come off) on a tortoise, that exposed bone dies. If the bone is exposed in a small area or from fungal shell rot, a new layer of keratin will be formed under the small bit of dead bone. The dead bone layer will not encompass the whole bone in these cases.
If the exposed bone is more extensive (as in a whole scute coming off) or there is a puncture wound, the bone will completely die in that area (all the way to the body). That dead bone will be a barrier to not let anything into the shell while it heals.
New keratin is formed under the completely dead bone. After the new keratin layer is laid down, new bone will grow under that keratin layer. When that is finished, the dead bone that had protected everything while it was healing will loosen up and eventually come off. This can take quite a long time for the dead bone to come off naturally, usually years.

Is that better Ed :p

Danny
 

Yvonne G

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-EJ said:
It might have been recently but I told you I know you've seen it. You don't deal with as many animals as we do and not come across it.

Yes, I've seen many, many animals with the scraped off keratin layer and only the white layer showing. However, I don't keep them, I adopt them out. So I never realized that eventually the dead, white bone would come off and reveal a new layer of keratin underneath.
 

-EJ

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Not really. You pretty much said what I did but I believe you are mistaken in that new bone formes under the old bone. One of us is wrong. I believe that the keratin either forms over the bone or is secreted by the bone.

egyptiandan said:
If a complete explanation is necessary, than here goes. :D

When bone is exposed (if the keratin (scute) layer has been damaged or come off) on a tortoise, that exposed bone dies. If the bone is exposed in a small area or from fungal shell rot, a new layer of keratin will be formed under the small bit of dead bone. The dead bone layer will not encompass the whole bone in these cases.
If the exposed bone is more extensive (as in a whole scute coming off) or there is a puncture wound, the bone will completely die in that area (all the way to the body). That dead bone will be a barrier to not let anything into the shell while it heals.
New keratin is formed under the completely dead bone. After the new keratin layer is laid down, new bone will grow under that keratin layer. When that is finished, the dead bone that had protected everything while it was healing will loosen up and eventually come off. This can take quite a long time for the dead bone to come off naturally, usually years.

Is that better Ed :p

Danny
 
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stells

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Danny you deserved that slap... that first reply was a lazy one...
 

-EJ

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I suspect he likes that sort of thing...

stells said:
Danny you deserved that slap... that first reply was a lazy one...
 
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