X-raying giant tortoises could prove a weighty problem – but not for one group of vets who overcame the conundrum by turning the tables on the troublesome Testudines.

Tortoise x-ray.
Staff set about x-raying the zoo’s giant tortoises.

Paignton Zoo staff were struggling to x-ray female Aldabra giant tortoises, which weigh about 14 stone and require four people to lift them – with the males weighing even more.

Expensive problem

In the first instance, the team would slide the digital x-ray plates under the tortoises, but they would often stamp on or excrete over them, meaning the plates, which cost £900 each, were getting scratched and damaged.

However, plucky zoo technician Don Nielsen came to the rescue by creating a sturdy wooden table the tortoises can be lifted onto. Vets then slide the x-ray plate into a slot underneath while another team member stands above the animal with the mobile x-ray machine.

Still creatures

VN Celine Campana said: “The new table means the tortoises are lifted off the ground for only a moment or two; they can’t wander off as they are unable to reach the ground with their toes, and the x-ray is taken in a quarter of the time it used to take, especially good as previously we had to have another person in the room to restrain the tortoise.”

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Fran Bell
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Fran Bell
6 months 11 days ago

OK I’m confused – cos if you’re using a Bucky table don’t you have to have the plate under the table top to reduce scatter anyway, since no doubt these tortoises are over 10cm from plastron to the top of the carapace?

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