Tortoise’s Leg Amputated, Replaced by Wheels



Red-footed tortoises are native to South America and are common pets in Brazil.

Take one pet tortoise, add two wheels commonly used for office furniture and you’ve got the world’s first bionic turtle.

In late February, a red-footed tortoise in Brazil was given a new lease on life, when a team of veterinarians at the Veterinary Hospital of Uberaba in the country’s Minas Gerais state attached two wheels to its shell.

Originally the adult tortoise’s owner had brought the animal into the hospital in hopes that doctors could heal an infected leg wound. The tortoise had damaged its left leg on an electrical fence that had fallen down in the garden where it lives.

The team, however, had no choice but to amputate the tortoise’s entire leg after determining the infection posed a risk to the tortoise’s entire well-being.

But while animals such as dogs and cats can manage on three legs, things aren’t as easy for a tortoise with its heavy shell and sluggish movement.

The hospital’s wildlife expert, Cláudio Yudi Kanayama, came up with the next best thing: a wheel similar to a furniture caster.

The doctor and his team glued a plastic shield onto the tortoise’s plastron (underside) before affixing a wheel to it.

A second wheel was added a few weeks later in a follow-up appointment to give the tortoise even more balance.

Red-footed tortoises are native to South America and are common pets in Brazil.

Rodrigo Rodrigues, a veterinary student at the hospital who spoke on behalf of Kanayama, told the Star the tortoise and its owner are doing well.

Its leg stitches will be removed shortly and with the new wheels, the tortoise can navigate around its home more easily.

“He’s fine. He’s a little wheelbarrow now,” Rodrigues said. “His owner is thrilled.”