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Beak Trims for Tortoises and Turtles

Front view of a turtle While they aren’t always considered a conventional pet, owning a turtle or tortoise can certainly be just as rewarding. However, it is still important to ensure your reptile gets the appropriate veterinary care here at Anderson Exotic Veterinary Clinic and that includes regular beak trims. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure and why it is so important.

What is a Beak Trim?

A beak trim is when you bring a tortoise or turtle to an animal clinic to have the area around their mouth cut and filed. Many people who do not own these types of reptiles don’t realize that a turtle or tortoise’s beak is similar to nails in that they continue to grow until the trimming process happens.

Left untreated, the beak can grow to the point where it makes the reptile’s mouth difficult to open, eat, or defend itself against predators. Thus, this is an important service to have done with your trusted San Diego veterinarian.

Do All Tortoises and Turtles Need Beak Trims?

Not all turtles need beak trims, but all tortoises should have this done on a scheduled basis. Most water turtles do not have beaks that continue to grow, so a beak trim is not necessary. However, box turtles are an exception to the rule and need this care on at least a bi-annual basis.

How Often Should You Have Your Pet’s Beak Trimmed?

In most cases, you should only have your turtle or tortoise’s beak trimmed once or twice a year. The exact schedule has a lot to do with the age of the pet, their particular breed, and other varying factors like diet. Our team can help you determine the appropriate timeframe for this process and even provide an overall health examination at the same appointment.

What Happens During the Beak Trimming Process

Much like getting a manicure as a human being, the beak trimming process is incredibly painless and simple. Generally, our team of veterinary experts starts by wrapping the turtle or tortoise securely to keep it from squirming. In some cases, the pet might even be temporarily sedated.

From there, Dr. Anderson will use trimmers or a file tool to help cut or grind down the beak. This takes a bit of expert care, as there are nerve endings and veins in the beak that can be cut if the process is handled by someone who isn’t experienced. Once done, the reptile is unwrapped and the process is finished.

Does your tortoise or turtle need a little tender loving care? Please contact us today at 800-462-8749 to schedule a beak trim appointment.


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


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