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SEM image of the week: Turtle claws

Posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 by for SEM.

The length of a turtle’s claw tells us about the environment in which he/she lives. Turtles with particularly long claws suggest that they’re kept on soft surfaces. Turtles that are around rocks and rough surfaces get their claws naturally worn down. Female turtles that build nests prefer longer claws to make the building easier. Male turtles tend to have longer claws and they’re used to stimulate the female while mating. Trimming the claw of a turtle can easily be done with any kind of nail clipper or scissors, but only the sharp tip at the end of the claw should be removed. If you cut too deeply, the sensitive quick might be penetrated. (The quick is the vein that runs down the claw.) If penetrated, use a cotton swab to spread styptic powder onto the claw until it stops bleeding. (Styptic powder is a clotting agent.)

The first time I trimmed my turtle’s claws was a few weeks ago. This was before I found out about the vein and how much to cut off. As an inexperienced cutter, I took a pair of scissors, held out my turtle’s hand, and when I tried to cut about half, the turtle squirmed and tried to get away from me. I figured that it hurt him, so I tried cutting off a smaller portion. It was difficult to trim because the claw felt so dense. I finally cut if off, and let go. I could tell that he was relieved to get away from me.

For more turtle-related images, click here.

Image and text credit: Jasline Garcia

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