Redfoot with leg issues

bonsai tortoise

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I've been keeping and breeding tortoises for 10-15 years as a hobbyist. I love it and love how my kids interact with them. I do sell some however I never make a profit and do it just for the personal rewards of keeping tortoises. But I recently came across a tortoise with some leg issues and I'm wondering if anyone had any advice, thoughts, opinions, etc.
I got this redfoot from someone in a trade (pics below). I really should have asked more questions but after I received the tortoise, it was clear the person I received it from was trying to unload it. I like to think I screen people ahead of time really well and this one fell through the cracks. Lesson learned on my end. Anyway, as you can see from the pictures, it looks like a perfectly good, healthy, beautiful female redfoot. But in closer inspection you'll notice her back legs have issues. It's missing most of its back nails and the bottoms are more like stumps or clubs than feet. The front legs are perfectly fine. When it walks it wabbles. Not the typical tortoise wabble - it's shakey like it's unbalanced. I also noticed that one leg might be slightly shorter than the other. The combination of club feet and a shorter leg I'm sure adds to the wabbles. It does awkwardly walk but often sometimes prefers to sit in one place and pull itself by its front legs rather than use it's back.
The person I got her from was less than honest on her condition and I own that I should have done more research. Later he told me he got her from someone who kept her on rocks but he said she walked fine (not true). Aside from the leg issue, she's perfect in every way, friendly, and eats like a champ. Having said that, has anyone seen this before? Do they have the ability to regenerate nails? Any ideas on how to strengthen those back legs? She's going to be fed a boatload of good, healthy food with a nice variety. I gave her some cuttlebone thinking there may be a vitamin deficiency. Aside from cuttlebone I'm not big on vitamin supplements preferring to make sure they get what they need through a varied diet but I'm thinking I might have to supplement with this one.
Here's my major concern... can I put her with my existing group? Right now she's in quarantine and will be there for at least a few more weeks. But I would like to introduce her to my existing redfoot group. I'm not worried about aggression. Redfoots are generally calm with one another and I've never experienced any aggression with mine. I'm not really worried about access to food or food competition because I monitor them several times daily and know I could easily make sure she gets what she needs. What I am most worried about is if my male redfoot mates with her. Can she dig a nest? If she can't, will she get egg bound? Does the ability to dig a nest even correlate with egg laying? In other words, if she can't dig a "good" nest, will she still lay albeit on the ground or in a less than ideal nest? If the common thought would be she would just expel the eggs in some way I would feel a lot better. But if she can't dig a good nest and that results in egg binding, I can't let that happen.
If anyone has had experience with this issue I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm guessing it's the result of a vitamin deficiency or something but her shell is solid and there's no pyramiding to speak of so I'm not certain.
I haven't decided if I'll keep her or not. I guess it depends on whether she improves at all and advice I get along the way. I do love keeping them but I don't really have the extra space in the winter time to accommodate a single redfoot so that's a concern. Had I felt comfortable introducing her to the group by winter it would have been another story. I know she would make an outstanding pet for someone because she's perfect in every other way, very tolerant of people, and just good looking to boot! I am just not sure how she would do as part of a group.
Any thoughts or shared experiences? Thanks!

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bonsai tortoise

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Here's some closer pictures of the feet. Upon closer inspection it appears that her back left foot toenail (which there's only one on that foot) looks a bit curved in. That I can fix. But I don't think that contributes to all the other foot issues. I'm sure it makes walking uncomfortable so I'll trim it down. IMG_1508.jpg IMG_1509.jpg IMG_1510.jpg IMG_1511.jpg IMG_1512.jpg IMG_1513.jpg IMG_1508.jpg IMG_1509.jpg IMG_1510.jpg IMG_1511.jpg IMG_1512.jpg IMG_1513.jpg IMG_1514.jpg IMG_1515.jpg IMG_1516.jpg IMG_1517.jpg
 

Toddrickfl1

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Imo it doesn't look like a healed injury, it looks like a deformity maybe the Tortoise was born with.
 

zovick

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Here's some closer pictures of the feet. Upon closer inspection it appears that her back left foot toenail (which there's only one on that foot) looks a bit curved in. That I can fix. But I don't think that contributes to all the other foot issues. I'm sure it makes walking uncomfortable so I'll trim it down. View attachment 304706 View attachment 304707 View attachment 304708 View attachment 304709 View attachment 304710 View attachment 304711 View attachment 304706 View attachment 304707 View attachment 304708 View attachment 304709 View attachment 304710 View attachment 304711 View attachment 304712 View attachment 304713 View attachment 304714 View attachment 304715
If I were you, I would not keep the name of the person who sold you that tortoise a secret. You should mention the name of the party from whom it was obtained to prevent other people from being similarly misinformed.
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings. I’m with @Toddrickfl1 on this issue because one would think if the damage was caused by rocks/hard surface that the front claws too would show damage. Everything but those two back legs looks/sounds good.

The SELLER really should have noted those issues up front.

good luck
 

bonsai tortoise

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If I were you, I would not keep the name of the person who sold you that tortoise a secret. You should mention the name of the party from whom it was obtained to prevent other people from being similarly misinformed.
As much as I’d like to do that I won’t. Plus this was my fault. He wasn’t honest by any means but I also didn’t do a thorough job either. I’m sure karma will catch up to him.
 

bonsai tortoise

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Greetings. I’m with @Toddrickfl1 on this issue because one would think if the damage was caused by rocks/hard surface that the front claws too would show damage. Everything but those two back legs looks/sounds good.

The SELLER really should have noted those issues up front.

good luck
I agree. Thanks.
 

Pastel Tortie

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Could be. Wonder if I can find a way to at least strengthen the legs.
I'm no expert, but since at least some redfoot like to swim... Maybe that would be a gentle form of exercise? You might be able to get a better look at how those back legs move when she isn't having to support all of her weight (as she would on land).
 

zovick

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As much as I’d like to do that I won’t. Plus this was my fault. He wasn’t honest by any means but I also didn’t do a thorough job either. I’m sure karma will catch up to him.
It would catch up to him a lot faster if you posted his name.
 

bonsai tortoise

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Hopefully she'll have a nice and healthy life in that soft grass.
That’s my yard and I had her out to eat some of the clover and get pics. But any enclosure I put her in will have soft substrate or dirt with weeds and grass so she’ll be good to go there.
 

Yvonne G

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I would guess that the back feet were chewed on when this was a baby or young tortoise and this is what's left after it healed - no actual foot on the one leg, and the sole of the other foot gone. Or maybe a lawn mower accident.
 

bonsai tortoise

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I would guess that the back feet were chewed on when this was a baby or young tortoise and this is what's left after it healed - no actual foot on the one leg, and the sole of the other foot gone. Or maybe a lawn mower accident.
Maybe. Anyone have any thoughts of me mixing her with my larger group after quarantine’s done?
 

Yvonne G

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Maybe. Anyone have any thoughts of me mixing her with my larger group after quarantine’s done?
Under supervision, of course. She may get picked on because of her infirmity.
 
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bonsai tortoise

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How long of a quarantine are you proposing? Just curios how long a q period should be?
Minimum of four weeks if she checks out. Probably more. I got her around August 15th (if I remember correctly). I might introduce her to the whole group when The colder weather starts when I move them in for the winter. In my area that’s usually the end of September. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Figure September 15th will be the soonest that would happen but more than likely it’ll be later in September or possibly even October. She’s good in the temporary enclosure right now so there’s no reason to rush the quarantine.
 

bonsai tortoise

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Under supervision, of course. She may get picked on because of her infirm ity.
Appreciate the input. Fortunately I’ve never witnessed any aggression of any kind from my redfoots. So unless the disability triggers something I’m relatively confident we won’t have issues. But you’re right it’s something I will definitely monitor.
 
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ZEROPILOT

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Appreciate the input. Fortunately I’ve never witnessed any aggression of any kind from my redfoots. So unless the disability triggers something I’m relatively confident we won’t have issues. But you’re right it’s something I will definitely monitor.
Given enough room. Female RF usually get along with other females.
While it isn't 100% guaranteed, I'll just bet it'll work out fine.
My females are all different sizes. One IS a bully. But they have the space to claim their own turf and live harmoniously.
This is not the same with multiple males.
Make no mistake.
 

bonsai tortoise

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UPDATE! This tortoise has improved a ton. She still wabbles when she walks and the shape of her feet are still as described but she’s been eating like a champ, is alert, and mingled perfectly fine with the rest of the group. And she laid eggs today! This is hilarious because I never saw one of the males mount her. The eggs are small but I’m fairly certain it’s her first time laying. I was a little worried because she dug 3 other test nests the past few days. So I quickly turned from not knowing if she could actually dig to whether or not we had an egg binding issue. Their winter enclosure’s substrate is a mix of peat moss, organic potting soil, sand, and hardwood mulch. It’s pretty easy to dig so I wasn’t as concerned with her legs being an issue with that. Also with the eggs being so small I’m 50/50 on whether they are viable but really don’t care. I was more concerned with would she be able to live in the group peacefully and remain healthy. Im going to assume I missed them mating although I guess it’s possible she just laid a bunch of infertiles. She gets fed a ridiculous variety of foods so I’ve been pumping the nutrients into her. I also add in calcium powder once a week for her in case her leg issues are some kind of deficiency. Seems to have worked. I don’t know how to post videos here but if anyone wants to see videos of her covering up her nest with shots of her working her back legs you can see them on Instagram. I’m @bonsai_tortoise.

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