Aldabra claw trimming?

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
Aldabra claw trimming?
Hi all, it's been a long time.
My 9 year old Aldabra has rear claws which have grown so long I believe they are effecting his ability to walk with his right foot. He still gets around and will stand tall to get to cactus or when being touched but seems to stumble with that foot not being able to move across the ground correctly (hopefully) as a result of the long toenails. It doesn't seem to be an issue of leg weakness.
I've had turtles and tortoises for 30+ years and never before had to trim a nail.
Was hoping someone familiar with the Aldab or Galaps can give me some pointers on the tools and trimming process on these big ones. Rear feet only, the front feet are fine.
Thanks!
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
43,740
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
I agree with Yvonne, post a pic.
Then I would add flat flag stone around the area he walks the most. Make small islands of them here and there. It will help keep the nails trimmed and if you feed on them occasionally it will help keep the beak trimmed.
 

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
Hi,
There is a small cement walkway and pavers along with bits of limestone in his enclosure. The enclosure itself is about 500 square feet. He spends most of his time in the grass but does sit on the cement or cross the pavers sometimes. This has worked well thus far to keep his (front) claws worn down, but some of the back are starting to curl.
Enclosure has an auto watering system so grass and weeds are always growing there and in those areas the ground is soft so it would seem he has a mix of terrain to allow a good range of movement while grazing. I have another 750 square foot area I am going to make available to him, and then another 600 sq foot area after that... provided we stay in this house.
Anyway I'll get some photos on here tomorrow of his feet. I'm actually kind of wondering if it might be a problem with his hip joint on that leg. Starting to wonder how a claw could make him stumble like that. We shall see.
Thanks everybody.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
58,609
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Aldabra claw trimming?
Hi all, it's been a long time.
My 9 year old Aldabra has rear claws which have grown so long I believe they are effecting his ability to walk with his right foot. He still gets around and will stand tall to get to cactus or when being touched but seems to stumble with that foot not being able to move across the ground correctly (hopefully) as a result of the long toenails. It doesn't seem to be an issue of leg weakness.
I've had turtles and tortoises for 30+ years and never before had to trim a nail.
Was hoping someone familiar with the Aldab or Galaps can give me some pointers on the tools and trimming process on these big ones. Rear feet only, the front feet are fine.
Thanks!
9 year old in a 500 sq. foot enclosure? That's around 50x10, or 20x25 feet? I have yearlings in 4x25. 2 year olds get 30x30 or 30x35m 900-1000 sq. ft. It just gets bigger from there.

The island giants need HUGE amounts of space. I believe, through much research into the matter, that this is one of the main problems with them in zoos. Tiny little enclosures.

You said right foot. If it was a terrain issue, I would expect it to be both feet equally. I think the nails on that foot are over growing due to an orthopedic problem further up. However, the over grown nail might now be exacerbating the other problem.

Tortoise nails are EXTREMELY hard. Normal methods don't work so well on them. Nail clippers for large dogs will often break on tortoise nails. A dremmel tool with a sanding drum should work, but you will wear out the sanding sleeve quickly. They sell sanding drums that fit into the chuck of electric drills at Home Depot and Lowes. I'll bet those would work well and last longer tan a little dremmel. Place the tortoise on a 5 gallon bucket to immobilize it and allow access to the feet. Like this:
IMG_5094.jpg

Only take a little at a time and wait a week or two between sandings. Have some "Quick Stop" on hand BEFORE you attempt this to stop bleeding if you go too far.

I think a combination of a MUCH larger enclosure and simultaneously correcting the overgrown nail issue will save this tortoise. Orthopedic problems in the island giants are no joke. These problems are all too common and they can end their lives prematurely in some cases.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
43,740
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
You might be able to use a horse hoof trimmer on them. Not sure how hard tort nails are. I used the hoof trimmers not only on my horse years ago but also on rabbits teeth that were over grown.
Whatever you use, do a little at a time as Tom said.
 

dd33

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
317
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Can we see some photos, or even a video of how it is walking? I don't know how to fix it but I am interested in learning about this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
Foot in question. That long nail is what I'm asking about.
 

Attachments

  • 20221026_182517 - Copy.jpg
    20221026_182517 - Copy.jpg
    1.8 MB · Views: 9
  • 20221026_182537 - Copy.jpg
    20221026_182537 - Copy.jpg
    1.5 MB · Views: 9

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
Bottom of foot and rear leg positions.
 

Attachments

  • 20221021_185306 - Copy.jpg
    20221021_185306 - Copy.jpg
    2.6 MB · Views: 8
  • 20221026_182758 - Copy.jpg
    20221026_182758 - Copy.jpg
    1.9 MB · Views: 8

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
I'd like to post more pics of his current enclosure but due to some unique landscaping and architecture I don't want to give away my location details, I know people who had animals stolen after posting pics and google earth would not be kind to me.
 

Attachments

  • 20221021_171435 - Copy.jpg
    20221021_171435 - Copy.jpg
    2.7 MB · Views: 7

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
9 year old in a 500 sq. foot enclosure? That's around 50x10, or 20x25 feet? I have yearlings in 4x25. 2 year olds get 30x30 or 30x35m 900-1000 sq. ft. It just gets bigger from there.

The island giants need HUGE amounts of space. I believe, through much research into the matter, that this is one of the main problems with them in zoos. Tiny little enclosures.

You said right foot. If it was a terrain issue, I would expect it to be both feet equally. I think the nails on that foot are over growing due to an orthopedic problem further up. However, the over grown nail might now be exacerbating the other problem.

Tortoise nails are EXTREMELY hard. Normal methods don't work so well on them. Nail clippers for large dogs will often break on tortoise nails. A dremmel tool with a sanding drum should work, but you will wear out the sanding sleeve quickly. They sell sanding drums that fit into the chuck of electric drills at Home Depot and Lowes. I'll bet those would work well and last longer tan a little dremmel. Place the tortoise on a 5 gallon bucket to immobilize it and allow access to the feet. Like this:
View attachment 351048

Only take a little at a time and wait a week or two between sandings. Have some "Quick Stop" on hand BEFORE you attempt this to stop bleeding if you go too far.

I think a combination of a MUCH larger enclosure and simultaneously correcting the overgrown nail issue will save this tortoise. Orthopedic problems in the island giants are no joke. These problems are all too common and they can end their lives prematurely in some cases.
It is most likely a little larger than that in an irregular shape, but I understand. More space has always been part of the plan. His heated house is in one part of the yard and I have grown plants in different areas of the property to ultimately force him to walk all the way across one way for some foods and back the other way for the turf area and another for hibiscus and another for cactus etc. Just have not properly reinforced these interconnected areas against his bulldozing and climbing skills yet. Currently he has his cactus and tortoise turf area.
I've never had to trim a claw before and am nervous about where the tissue under the nail resides. I think my pics have gone in... maybe you can give me a % of the claw to sand down?
 

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
Can we see some photos, or even a video of how it is walking? I don't know how to fix it but I am interested in learning about this.
I will make an attempt to get a clip of him moving around tomorrow.
 

dd33

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
317
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
Wow, unbelievably smooth shell, it looks great.
Does it only have three claws on that foot or is one extra worn down? I have seen WAY longer nails on large tortoises before. My guess is that it is less overgrown than the others are over worn from the way it is walking.
 

Holycow

Active Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
173
Location (City and/or State)
Homestead ,FL
Wow, unbelievably smooth shell, it looks great.
Does it only have three claws on that foot or is one extra worn down? I have seen WAY longer nails on large tortoises before. My guess is that it is less overgrown than the others are over worn from the way it is walking.
Thanks. He has been kept outdoors since a hatchling (I would bring him inside if the night was going to be chilly however) and never fed anything other than grazing grass, weeds, orchard hay, hibiscus, optunia cactus, the rare squash or zuccini or green/red pepper. I did smear moist mazuri on hay when I first introduced it- I think that only was 3 or 4 times then he would eat it unassisted. I saw so many pics of deformed aldabaras from eating the tortoise pellets and lettuce and fruit that my goal was to try to keep the growth as slow as possible without keeping him in a barren enclosure.
Once he became too large to bring inside I've built him a heated "house" out of plywood and Styrofoam insulation. He sleeps there during the night and I can close it and raise the temps if it is going to be cooler than usual.
I've seeded one part of the yard with so many types of grass and weeds I've lost count. That area is automatically watered so the grass and weeds grow during the night and every morning he is out there for a few hours trimming it down low like a golf course green.
I'd read that rapid growth, low humidity and overfeed/bad diet can stress their body since they are optimized for living in harsh areas so I've done what I could to keep him active and have a stimulating living situation where he had to walk a lot and spend time grazing.
This limping thing is the first issue I've had with him.
I did notice the claws on the opposing foot are identical with the long claw coming out to a point and the others relatively flat. This makes me ask why he would limp with one foot and not with the other.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
91,605
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
It's not normal for the nails to grow under the foot like that. You are right to be concerned. I expect something's wrong with the placement of that foot when he walks. Could be something in the leg or hip. Or maybe he's dragging that foot???
 

New Posts

Top