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Open Topped Pyramided Scute

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by Tom, Oct 16, 2010.

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  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    So here's an extreme close-up of one of my new girls' scutes. You can see the layers pretty well and the damage goes pretty deep. I'm guessing that this scute was "cooked" and dried out like this from being too close to the heat lamp with the previous owner.

    I'm a little worried about stuff getting in there and causing a problem. I'm considering sanding it down until I get to a smooth, undamaged layer.

    Any opinions on the matter are welcome.

    I thought I'd have to wait until I found a dead pyramided tortoise to see the inside of a pyramided scute, but here it is. I wonder how far down it goes until the bone starts...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  2. TKCARDANDCOIN

    TKCARDANDCOIN New Member 10 Year Member! 5 Year Member

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    Aww, poor girl.Looks pretty nasty.I don't know what I would do,maybe try flushing it out real good with some nolvasan solution and let nature take its course?Just keeping it clean, I quess!Good luck whatever you do!
  3. Kristina

    Kristina Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    That is equal parts gross and fascinating, for sure.

    I am not sure about sanding it, I would be too afraid it would just continue to crumble and you would end up with a worse hole.

    I wonder if it would be possible to seal it with something like epoxy resin? I wouldn't do fiberglass, it doesn't stick well and if water was to get in there, you would have a nasty rotten mess.

    Interested to hear what others have to say.
  4. chairman

    chairman Active Member 5 Year Member

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    While taking a glass bottom boat tour in Silver Springs, FL, we came across a turtle (RES, I believe) that was missing the rear quarter of its body. According to the tour guide the vet at the park filled in the hole with fiberglass and it had been living fine for years thereafter. From looking at the turtle, it did seem as though the area was remodeled with fiberglass. Granted, it could have been an epoxy... I think you're more likely to find a non-toxic epoxy than a non-toxic variety of fiber glass.

    Had you thought about filling the gap with bee's wax? I would think that the wax would protect the area while the shell healed on its own. And, being bee's wax, the tortoise's body would probably either push the wax out of the way as the shell healed or it could possibly even safely absorb the wax and process it.
  5. Turtulas-Len

    Turtulas-Len Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Duct Tape as a temporary fix to keep it clean inside, it can be changed daily if needed.
  6. Kristina

    Kristina Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The beeswax is a FANTASTIC idea!

    As far as the epoxy resin goes, I use Park's Superglaze in underwater applications - fish tanks, paludariums, etc., and it is non-toxic to the fish and amphibians (amphibs are notoriously sensitive) and does not appear to leech any chemicals or gasses into the water.
  7. egyptiandan

    egyptiandan New Member 10 Year Member! 5 Year Member

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    Tom, your already at bone, dead but it's bone. So if you sanded you'd be sanding bone. You can though pull the dead bone out of there. It looks like it has healed and than become uncovered (the bone) and died again. You can use a single edge razor blade to take off the dead scute material (what's loose and flaky) over the dead bone.
    If it doesn't smell, I wouldn't worry to much about it. You can though cover it with a piece of duct tape to keep water out of it. Just make sure it's totally dry before you put on the tape.

    Danny
  8. franeich

    franeich Member 5 Year Member

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    No pics of the rest of her?
  9. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I must have missed something. Did you get a new tortoise?
  10. When I was involved in rescue at my sisters we repaired a lot of holes. We used fiberglass and what happened is you close up a wound and close in bacteria and cause a nasty mess. It is my advice to take off the loose pieces and keep it open and let nature heal it. Clean it regularly with Nolvasan and just make sure it is growing and filling in on it's own. But don't close it up, if you do you are just asking for trouble...I understand it's not a wound but closing it up is still a bad idea...
  11. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    Duct tape? is there anything it can't do?
    Team Gomberg likes this.
  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2015
  13. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    The top layer, the keratin layer, is only about the thickness of your fingernail. On a large sulcata, it might be just a tad thicker, but not much.
  14. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Well-Known Member Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    So- on a pyramided scute, with no significant metabolic bone disorder underlying it, does the bone follow the contour of the pyramid? I didn't think they did.

    It looks mostly old and healed, but it could still harbor a ton of bad stuff. I would remove anything that was loose, then flush well with Betadine or similar, then not really cover it or anything unless the other steps made any new openings or bad spots.
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    In relation to Mark's recent thread, here is an update... with pics, of course. I took everyones advice and used a straight edge razor instead of a Dremel with a sanding drum. There is exposed bone visible there and the scute material IS only about as thick as a fingernail. There were several layers and I'm still concerned about this area because the scute material is separated from the bone on the entire top third of this pyramid. The scute material is flexible and it moves when you push on it, independently of the bone. BTW, she was a very good girl and just sat there on the ground sunning while I worked on her and took pics.

    Before I worked on it:
    [​IMG]

    In progress:
    [​IMG]

    The edge of the razor is touching exposed bone here:
    [​IMG]

    All done.
    [​IMG]

    Her other bad scute after I worked on it:
    [​IMG]

    Of course, Scooter had to come over and be nosy. He wanted to know what I was doing to "his" girl:
    [​IMG]

    Here was the scene before AND after I did the deed:
    [​IMG]
  16. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    This is Chewy, right? Looking at her "knobs" and trying to eliminate all the growth in between, can't you just imagine how bumpy this little girl was at, say, 4 or 5 years old? If I'm remembering correctly, this one was found in a fellow's driveway and had been chewed on by dogs or coyotes, right? So this guy who found her really did well by her. She stopped pyramiding under his care and grew pretty smoothly.

    Thanks for showing us those pictures of how you trimmed off the dead stuff. I think it will be much better now that debris can't get stuck inside there.
  17. DeanS

    DeanS SULCATA OASIS 5 Year Member

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    Outstanding work Tom! Now what?!?! Can you apply a Nolvasan scrub or some Betadine to wipe out (or control) any bacteria that could spread in there?
  18. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    My intention is to watch it like a hawk and leave it alone. It think it will be better if it just stays dry in there. If it hasn't been a problem up to this point, I don't think it will be. I just wanted to get the excess crud off of there so it could be open and not trap stuff in there.
  19. Balboa

    Balboa New Member 5 Year Member

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    I'm no vet, and y'all are WAY more experienced than I am, but I'd THINK it would need to be kept hydrated in order for the scute to heal, I mean we're talking about exposed bone right? Generally speaking that sort of thing needs to be patched over and sealed up in humans. Please do correct me if I'm wrong.
  20. Az tortoise compound

    Az tortoise compound Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Tom,
    We have had a few the same type of open scute. I have always left them alone unless it had mud built up in it and needed rinsing. It doesn't seem to be a likely place for infection as the material (bone,keratin etc.) is rock solid and dry (no ooze or puss).
    I have also seen very experienced keepers use epoxy to patch a scute. Usually on females from the males wearing them down with their front feet and plastron while breeding. They would put down another layer every year as the old one wore down.
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