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Gamera, a 12-year-old African spur-thighed tortoise, got a wheel from the local hardware store to replace a burned limb that had to be amputated. (Washington State University)

How An Injured Tortoise Rolls Now

by Scott Hensley
Jul 22, 2011

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Veterinarians at Washington State University came up with a cheap and apparently effective way to get an injured tortoise up and at 'em again.

In April, Gamera, a 12-year-old African spur-thighed tortoise, was turned over to the animal hospital at WSU's vet school with a badly burned front left leg. The vets determined the injury was life-threatening and that an amputation was called for.

But then what? Time for a prosthesis.

And the right one was available on the shelf of the local hardware store: a caster you'd be more likely to find on the bottom of a sofa. The Associated Press reports it cost $7.

Vets epoxied the caster on to the shell of the tortoise. "We got several sizes to find the right height," Dr. Nickol Finch, a WSU specialist in exotic animals, tells the AP.

The 23-pound male tortoise had the surgery and wheel a few months back, but just got his media closeup this week.

"Nobody knew what we were going to be able to do with him, with burns that as severe as what he had," Finch says in the WSU video below. "To see him now, doing fantastic and eating like a little pig, does a whole lot of good for the heart."

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