Underbite...when should I worry?

drewby07

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Hi all!

I have a sulcata that is about 3.5 years old now. She is doing well, eating and growing, and has a great personality. For about the last year, I've noticed she has an underbite. I searched online for a long time, and the general consensus I found was that as long as she was eating ok, it should clear up on its own and she would just grow out of it.

Here we are a year later, and it's not getting any better. She has no problem eating, but it does seem to effect her ability to bite into and tear her food. When she eats leafy things, she has a hard time cutting off pieces with her beak. At what point should I start to worry that this isn't going to correct itself?
 

drewby07

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Here are a couple pictures of her mouth that I just took.

20151014_145552.jpg 20151014_151524.jpg
 
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Yvonne G

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They need to have a pretty good occlusion in order to bite off the plants and grasses. It might be a good idea to start gently filing the lower beak into a more natural shape. A little bit once a week until it's right. You can use a Dremmel tool. Because this is a genetic deformity, you may have to keep after it his whole life.
 

drewby07

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Any tips on HOW exactly to do that? Getting her head out of her shell is nearly impossible...
 

Alaskamike

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Any tips on HOW exactly to do that? Getting her head out of her shell is nearly impossible...
I know !
I have a little Redfoot - same issue.
Been feeding her on a paving tile , helped but not a cure. At some point I'll have to do the dremmel tool too
All her life.

I used a fingernail file and got it down some.

But she is very small. I can actually hold her head out of shell without pinching too hard.

I'll be interested to see what methods others have used successfully.
 

Yvonne G

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We have to file our Manouria's beaks every 6 months...these are big over 50lb tortoises, and it's impossible to pull their heads or arms out and hold them out once you get them out. So I position the tortoise on the top of a 3' fence, or on a 5 gallon bucket, facing my tortoise partner, William, and he's sitting on a stool. If I can grab a leg and hold it out, that makes it a bit easier. So I balance the tortoise on the fence (his legs are swimming in the air), and I hold firmly onto the leg, and William reaches in and starts grinding away with the Dremel tool. Even if the tortoise pulls his head way in, William can still reach the beak with the tool.

beak trim 7-16-12 c.jpg beak trim 7-16-12 d.jpg beak trim 7-16-12 f.jpg
 

domalle

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Hi all!

I have a sulcata that is about 3.5 years old now. She is doing well, eating and growing, and has a great personality. For about the last year, I've noticed she has an underbite. I searched online for a long time, and the general consensus I found was that as long as she was eating ok, it should clear up on its own and she would just grow out of it.

Here we are a year later, and it's not getting any better. She has no problem eating, but it does seem to effect her ability to bite into and tear her food. When she eats leafy things, she has a hard time cutting off pieces with her beak. At what point should I start to worry that this isn't going to correct itself?

I don't know who would ever advise that could grow out on its own.
Underbites don't self-correct.
It needs address by someone knowledgeable in turtle matters,
a turtle rehabber or turtle specialist veterinarian.
 

drewby07

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Ok guys, I posted this many months ago, and tried trimming. He is also living outside more now, so I hoped more natural feeding would help. I don't see a lot of improvement. I don't really have a good vet here in Richmond, VA, and I don't want to spend a ton of $$ on someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Any suggestions?

QGnMzql.jpg
 

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Sara G.

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Do you have a more head on pic?
Do you feed him on a piece of slate or something? That might help keep the beak down. But it's strange that it's an underbite.
 

Yvonne G

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Do you have a more head on pic?
Do you feed him on a piece of slate or something? That might help keep the beak down. But it's strange that it's an underbite.

there's a very good picture at the start of this thread, Sara.
 

Yvonne G

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Drewby: You're going to have to file it down. It will take two or three people. Sit him on something where his legs are dangling. A bucket might be too big. When he has his front legs out, grab one (with two people you can grab both front legs) and just hold it out so he can't cover up his face with it. Then someone else takes the Dremmel to the beak. Even if he pulls his head inside, you can still reach the beak with the Dremmel. See my pictures up above.

I used to think this anomaly was genetic, but I sold some out of a clutch and kept some, and mine all grew beaks like your sulcata's while the ones I kept in touch with that were sold, grew normal beaks. So I'm sure it's nutritional now. I hardly ever substituted with calcium, so maybe that's the issue. I really don't know.
 

Big Charlie

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Drewby: You're going to have to file it down. It will take two or three people. Sit him on something where his legs are dangling. A bucket might be too big. When he has his front legs out, grab one (with two people you can grab both front legs) and just hold it out so he can't cover up his face with it. Then someone else takes the Dremmel to the beak. Even if he pulls his head inside, you can still reach the beak with the Dremmel. See my pictures up above.

I used to think this anomaly was genetic, but I sold some out of a clutch and kept some, and mine all grew beaks like your sulcata's while the ones I kept in touch with that were sold, grew normal beaks. So I'm sure it's nutritional now. I hardly ever substituted with calcium, so maybe that's the issue. I really don't know.
So you think a lack of calcium could cause this? I assume they would only be vulnerable during an early development stage? Like it wouldn't develop later on even if they were calcium deficient.
 
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