LSU veterinarians help a turtle get moving

LSU veterinarians help a turtle get moving
Pedro the turtle. (Source: LSU School of Veterinary Medicine)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The zoological medicine service at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital helped a turtle named Pedro to get moving.

Pedro, an adult male box turtle, was adopted by his owners, he was missing one of his back legs. After Pedro escaped from his outdoor enclosure, his other rear leg went missing. “Unfortunately, several months ago, he escaped. His owners hadn’t seen him for several months. Then when he finally returned, he was missing the last back leg now,” said Kelly Rockwell, DVM, a zoological medicine intern in the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

That’s when Pedro’s owner, Sandra Traylor, brought him to LSU.

The veterinarians found nothing medically wrong with Pedro. The wound had already healed and he was able to move around on his own using his front legs. However without his back legs Pedro could not sit up and protect himself, so his owners decided to make him an indoor turtle.

"Since they opted to keep him inside, I was talking to Dr. Mark Mitchell, the clinician working that week, and we thought in order to make him more mobile, we could add a prosthetic of some sort. We talked about 3-D printing something, or we could try to make him wheels,” said Rockwell.

LSU veterinary student, Sarah Mercer decided to use a Lego car kit as the best way to attach the wheels.

Mercer, a fourth-year veterinary student from Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Mercer said she’ll never forget the experience of using Legos to help an animal in need.

“Vet school can be hard at times, but sitting on the floor with my classmates and mentors all laughing in delight as we watched Pedro roll around for the first time, that was a moment of pure joy,” Mercer said.

In addition to epoxy, other equipment was needed as well to give Pedro his prosthetics.

“Syringe cases were used to hold the axles together and then we cut some pieces down to size to fit him,” Rockwell said. “I love zoo med. It gives me an opportunity to be very creative with my job. We get a chance to be really creative as doctors to help these animals live a great quality of life.”

Pedro’s owners are happy to report that he his now on the move and they are thrilled with the results.

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