The Importance of Beak Trimming

Owning an exotic animal can be a rewarding experience allowing the owner to learn about the species while building a bond with the animal. But, it can be difficult to find a veterinary service that can care for exotic animals. Luckily, our team at Paws & Claws Pet Medical Center regularly sees and treats exotic animals including reptiles and birds. Below, let’s examine one procedure, beak trimming, regularly performed on tortoises.

What is Beak Trimming?

Beak trimming is a procedure that is done to a tortoise as part of regular maintenance to keep your pet healthy. This procedure can be done at home by the pet owner, but can also be done in a veterinarian’s’ office by a professional. The procedure removes a small part of the front of the beak, which naturally continues to grow, to allow the tortoise to eat freely.

Why Does Your Tortoise Need a Beak Trim?

The beak of a tortoise, the front portion of the mouth, continues to grow with the tortoise for the lifetime of the animal. In the wild, this does not pose a problem because the beak is naturally worn away as the tortoise forages for food. Digging through soil, sand, and stones in the wild gradually wear the beak to the proper length. In captivity, most tortoises do not have this same luxury. Food is usually presented to the tortoise with no need to dig or forage. This means the beak can continue to grow. If the beak grows too far without being trimmed, it can prevent the tortoise from completely opening their mouth, which can make eating very difficult for the tortoise. In extreme cases, the beak can grow uninhibited and eventually grow into the scales of the tortoise. This can create irritation and even an infection.

What to Expect During a Trim

While beak trims can be performed at home, a veterinary expert will sometimes have an easier time and more success with the trimming. Using clippers, a veterinarian will remove parts of the overgrown beak. This does not hurt the tortoise in any way. The trimming might actually be a series of clips in order to reduce the length. The veterinarian may have to follow up with a gentle file to remove any rough-edged. A veterinarian can also help with suggestions to prevent your tortoise’s beak from getting too out of control. In many cases, simply adding a cuttlebone to your tortoise’s enclosure will give the animal something rub his or her face on, wearing down the beak.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

Finding a veterinarian to care for your exotic pet can be a challenge. Understanding the intricacies and special care requirements of exotics takes a special kind of animal hospital.  At Paws & Claws Pet Medical Center we regularly treat exotic pets. Our office is centrally located at 26745 S.E. Stark Street, Troutdale, OR 97060. To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment, please call us today at (503) 661-1833.