Rolling On

Friday, July 22, 2011 - 9:52am

Tortoise who lost leg gets a new wheel to take its place.

A 12-year-old African spur-thighed tortoise recently had its left front leg amputated at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and is doing just fine with a swiveling wheel attached to his shell.

The tortoise was relinquished by its owner on April 20 because the animal's leg had suffered a severe burn.

The veterinarian making the initial diagnosis referred the tortoise to WSU's veterinary teaching hospital for care.

The injury was life-threatening so the decision to amputate was made.

Subsequent surgery by Dr. Courtney Watkins, a final year surgery resident, and Dr. Nickol Finch, head of WSU's Exotic Animal Service required that the limb be amputated at the shoulder.

To help the tortoise after the surgery, a small swiveling ball-type caster was attached to its shell with an epoxy adhesive.

The animal took to his new prosthetic quickly with little encouragement and moves around well on most surfaces.

"Understandably, complicated amputations in tortoises are not common surgeries so we did not know how well he would eat afterwards, said Dr. Finch. "The feeding tube just ensured we could keep his nutrition up."

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