Student uses 3D printer to craft prosthetic shells for tortoises

(KSNT) When Cleopatra the leopard tortoise was sent to Canyon Critter Reptile Rescue in Golden, Colorado she was in pretty rough shape. Poor nutrition can lead to “pyramiding” shells. Instead of a smooth rounded shell, Cleopatra has a rigid, bumpy back.

The herbivore is now on a healthy diet that includes dandelions and cactus. That’s a good start to making sure Cleopatra has a chance of flattening the shell out as she grows. But being around other tortoises creates more issues.

“They climb on each other and that puts too much pressure on the points. If her shell was natural and smooth, that weight would be distributed across the shell so it wouldn’t put all the pressure on the peaks,” said Nico Novelli, owner of the rescue.

The tortoise roughhousing has done more damage. Cleopatra’s shell is exposed leaving her susceptible to bacteria and infection. Also is she gets turned on her back, the shell’s shape will prevent her from getting back on her belly.

“I heard this tortoise was damaged, needed some help and it seemed like the right thing to do,” said Roger Henry, a student at Colorado Technical University.

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