Shell-ebrating Mobility!

Metabolic Bone Disease Tortoise Gets Wheelchair

It’s A Wonderful Tortoise

What would you do to give your pet the best life possible? Jaime Loebener saved her 11- year old Sulcata Tortoise from an exotic animal rescue in Knoxville, TN.

George Bailey the Tortoise was born with a metabolic bone disease that caused his rear legs to underdevelop. The bones in his back legs are weaker than they should be to propel a 70lbs tortoise in his daily activities. Jaime told us, “He uses his front legs to pull his way around slowly and clumsily. The bigger he’s gotten, the more difficult this has been for him. He currently weighs close to 70 lbs., but may grow to weigh over 200 lbs.”

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD is a condition in many reptiles in captivity where there is an in balance of calcium and phosphorus in their diets or environments that are too cold for them.

Symptoms of MBD are:

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  • Weak limbs
  • Deformed limbs
  • The hard shell or carapace appears flat instead of domed
  • Shell looks too small for the tortoise
  • Refusal to eat
  • Lethargy

In George Bailey’s case, metabolic bone disease left the bones in his back legs underdeveloped. His rear leg muscles still work so George is able to move his legs. George’s back legs are weak and give out frequently. Which has been a growing problem as he gets bigger and bigger. Mobility become more challenging as George Bailey matured.

Rollin’ to the Rescue

Jamie could see that George Bailey was struggling to walk and so she started to look into how to help him support his growing weight. Sulcata Tortoises can live for around 100 years so getting George Bailey a way to get around was imperative and he was going to end up immobile due to his size and weight his legs wouldn’t be strong enough to support him. Jamie took to the internet to see if maybe other people had had similar tortoises to George Bailey and she stumbled across Walkin’ Pet and Scoot Reeves! Scoot Reeves was a turtle that had been run over by a front-end loader and left with his back legs paralyzed and his shell cracked, Scoot and his was the very first and fastest tortoise on two wheels

No Slowing George Bailey’s Roll!

After reading about Scoot’s story Jamie reached out to the Walkin’ Pets who jumped at the chance to get George Bailey rolling. George Bailey’s wheelchair uses the base from the Walkin’ Scooter, an indoor mobility product, and a harness that goes over top of his shell to keep him secure in his wheels. While George Bailey isn’t going to be going anywhere too quickly, he needed to be comfortable and Sulcata Tortoises have a convex contour on the underside of their shell that the Walkin’ Pets engineer was able to support with additional cushioning on top of the scooter base. With some all terrain wheels, George Bailey is ready to roll! 

George Bailey took to his new wheels immediately! Jamie says “[George Bailey] is very enthusiastic about his wheelchair” and is living his happiest slowpoke life. Jamie can’t wait to bring George Bailey on his first walk out and about in his wheels!

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