How to Trim a Box Turtle's Beak

Box turtle beaks function like teeth.
Box turtle beaks function like teeth. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

A box turtle's beak is the upper portion of the mouth that grows over the bottom of the mouth into a point. Turtle's use their beaks like teeth to grab and bite into food. Like human fingernails, box turtle beaks grow for the entirety of a turtle's life. A beak that is left overgrown can cause infections and cause starvation if the turtle is prevented from eating.

Things You'll Need

  • Cuttle bone
  • Credit card
  • Nail file

Give your turtle food and toys that will wear down the beak. This is the safest and easiest way to keep a turtle's beak trimmed. Keep a cuttle bone in your turtle's cage. This inexpensive mineral supplement will ensure your turtle gets enough calcium in addition to giving your turtle something to chew to keep its beak trimmed. It's also wise to avoid keeping the substrate in the cage totally flat. When turtles have to work a bit to walk around, their beak may rub into things and be filed down. This is what keeps turtles in the wild from suffering from overgrown beaks.

Pick up your turtle and wait for your turtle to become calm. Gently pry the turtle's mouth partially open using the credit card. Do not exert any force or you may damage the turtle's bones and muscles.

File down the outside of the beak with the nail file. Be sure to only file the outside of the beak and not the inside. The purpose of opening the turtle's mouth is to make it easier to fully access the beak.

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