Tortoise Beak Too Long? 6 Things You Can Do

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Tortoises with overgrown beaks suffer miserably as they can not eat or perform routine tasks. As an owner, you should step in to ease the pain of your tortoise. Here is your responsibility if the pets have long beaks,

Trimming the overgrown tortoise beak is the easiest method to deal with too long beak. Either a Dremel tool or nail clipper is used for the job. You can polish the extra beak layer at home or take the pet to a vet. It is advised to offer the tortoises hard foods or rough surfaces for beak overgrowth prevention.

Catch more details in the article below.

6 Things You Can Do For Tortoise Overgrown Beaks: Cure & Prevention

The tortoise beak’s upper end contains nerves and veins. It means the creatures can feel any pain or sensation in those areas. So, cutting the overgrown beak with a clipper is not a solution, and you have to be more considerate.

The following section includes the popular and harmless ways to trim the long beaks of tortoises,

1. A Visit To The Exotic Vet

As mentioned, tortoises can feel sensations on their beaks. So, experimenting with the trimming method may hurt and bleed the pets. To avoid any unwanted circumstances, take the tortoise to an exotic vet.

Experts have deep and practical knowledge of how to trim overgrown tortoise beaks. Thus, there is less chance for the pets to get hurt.

Usually, tortoises are very protective of their bodies. Hence, the creatures will throw their claws at you when you try trimming their beaks. Also, they often attempt to retract into the shell.

It is why the vets sedate (formula generally includes hydromorphone and alfaxalone) the tortoises first. As a result, the pets do not feel intense pain, and the professionals can avoid any struggle.

Next, when the tortoise is sleepy enough, the vet will use a Dremel to file the extra beak portion. Yes, many experts use clippers to cut away the development.

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But remember, clippers can be a traumatic experience for the tortoises, and there is always a fracture risk. Luckily, the Dremel is safe, and the pets feel no pressure or pain at all.

2. Do The Manual Trimming On Your Own

Of course, you can choose to do the filing at home. The beaks are made of keratin and are similar to our fingernails. So, cutting them off needs no special certificate.

But yes, you may become nervous and struggle to trim the beaks while keeping the pet calm. As a consequence, the creature can get hurt in the middle. Hence, do not proceed with manual trimming if you are not confident.

For the home filing, follow the below steps,

  • Hold the tortoise from behind its head. Some species may cooperate with you but expect resentment from most pets. Ask your friend to give you a hand if necessary. Just make sure the tortoise’s head is up and out.
  • Wrapping the tortoise in a towel will limit its movements. Also, the pet can not push away the clippers or Dremel tool.
  • Now take a fingernail cutter and trim the beak from the edge real quick. Hold the clipper at a 45-degree angle. Do not forget to file the beaks later to add a smooth touch.
  • Many keepers use a filer or a Dremel tool to grind the extra development.

3. Serve The Food On A Hard Surface

Tortoises will trim their beaks on their own if they have a chance. For example, feeding the reptiles on hard ground is an excellent way to prevent beak overgrowth. The pets rub their beaks against the feeding surface when picking up the meals.

4. Consider The Food Options

Experts advise offering the tortoises sticky or hard-textured food from time to time. See, when the food sticks to the beak, the pets try hard to get it off the face. Hence, you will notice them rubbing their beaks against the wall or so. During the process, their beaks get trimmed off.

Squash and commercial tortoise diets are some of the hard food options available.

5. Cuttlebones As Supplements

I guess there is no need to explain the significance of calcium for tortoises. Supplements are the best source of minerals for these pets.

Now, several calcium sources are available for tortoises. For example, cuttlebones, mineral blocks, plaster blocks, powder, crushed oyster shells, crushed egg shells, etc.

Among all the sources, cuttlebones are the best for these creatures for several reasons. For starters, cuttlefish contains 85% calcium. Hence, the tortoises have no risk of suffering from calcium deficiency.

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Moreover, the bones have a rough texture. Thus, nibbling the supplement can wear off the excess beak development of the tortoises.

One more thing!

Tortoises are not fans of the dull appearance and stale smell of the cuttlebones. As a result, many pets avoid this supplement altogether.

However, you can influence the tortoise’s taste and interest by pouring carrot juice over the supplements.

6. Rocks Are Their Best Friends

Do you know tortoises can eat rocks? No joke. You can check this article for confirmation.

Of course, rock-eating is not an appreciable task and poses health risks for the tortoises. But yet, experts recommend keeping medium to big-sized stones in the enclosure. There are reasons to back up this suggestion.

First, tortoises can not eat medium or large rocks. So, do not worry about the health complications. In fact, tortoises love climbing these stones.

Again, rocks provide a hard surface for the tortoises to rub off their beaks. As a result, there is no chance of overgrown beaks.

Dremel Tool Or Clipper: Which One To Use For Tortoise Overgrown Beak Trimming?

Well, vets suggest different tools to cut the overgrown beaks of the tortoises. For example, some experts prefer the Dremel tool to polish the keratin layer. Again, other professionals find nail clippers suitable for this job.

Which one should you select? It definitely depends on you, as each tool has its downside. Take the Dremel as an example.

It takes a long time to trim the beaks of tortoises with the Dremel. Hence, it becomes a stressful process for the pets.

Besides, the continuous vibration and noise of the tool can spike anxiety in the tortoises. Dremel tools may generate heat and cause fracture too.

Fingernail clippers, on the other hand, take no time to cut the keratin lump on the beak. But mishandling the tool is always risky, which can hurt the tortoises badly.

Weigh both the pros and cons of the tools before using them on your pets.

Do I Need To Trim My Tortoise Beak?

See, not all your tortoises need a beak trimming right this moment. But how do you recognize which pets require grooming?

Simple. Look for the following signs in the tortoises to diagnose them with overgrown beaks. Such as,

  • The beaks have grown long in front.
  • All around growth of the beak may make the tortoise look like a little dinosaur.
  • The pets can not open their jaws, which hampers their feeding habits and health.
  • You will notice clicking sounds coming from the beaks.
  • The overgrown beak may irritate the tortoises. As a result, the pets will often rub their beaks against a surface or front legs.
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Why Is My Tortoise Beak Too Long?

Now that we know the cure and prevention of tortoise’s overgrown beaks, let’s explore the causes. Honestly, it is only natural that the pet’s beak will grow with time. The beak is made of keratin, a similar element to our fingernails.

Therefore, cutting the beaks once in a while is mandatory. Professionals advise trimming off the beaks twice or thrice a year. But yes, trimming is unnecessary if you can prevent the tortoise beak overgrowth with the abovementioned tricks.

Furthermore, natural growth is not always the reason behind the deformed beaks of these creatures. Sometimes, mineral deficiency or physical illness may also cause the condition.

All the culprits for tortoise overgrown beaks are,

1. Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism Disease:

NSHP often leads to the excessive growth of beaks in tortoises. The causes of this disease are,

  • Low in calcium
  • High phosphorus in the meals
  • Lack of vitamin D3 in the diet
  • Insufficient UV rays

A balanced meal with calcium and phosphorus (at a 1:1 ratio), along with quality UV light, will cure this condition.

2. Metabolic Bone Disease:

We all are familiar with MBD in tortoises. The lack of quality UV light in the pen hampers the calcium and vitamin D3 absorption in the pet’s system. As a consequence, the creature suffers from deformed shells, overgrown beaks or nails, etc.

A vitamin-rich diet with calcium supplements and a quality UV bulb will save the tortoise from this condition.

3. Soft Foods & Non-Abrasive Surfaces:

Tortoises need access to hard textured food or surfaces. This way, the creatures can grind away their overgrown beaks. The absence of such a surface or food will promote beak growth.

4. Others:

Some tortoises have faster growth, which is why they experience an overgrown beak. Again, physical trauma may also influence the deformation of the beaks.

Before You Go

Tortoise may not open its mouth because of overgrown beaks. However, other issues like mouth rot or respiratory illness can also be behind the pet’s inability to open its mouth. The below link sheds more light on the closed mouth condition and the treatments.

Tortoise Can’t Open its Mouth? Here’s What To Do

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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