How to Cut Turtle Nails: The Definitive Guide

How to Cut Turtle Nails

Do you have turtles? If so, do you know how to cut turtle nails? Believe it or not, this is an important task that should be done regularly. Turtles can have sharp and long nails, and if they aren’t trimmed regularly, they could cause serious injuries to each other during fights or when they stack on each other for basking. In this article, we will teach you how to safely cut your turtle’s nails using the proper tools and techniques.

Related Article: How To Clean A Turtle Tank?

Can you cut the turtle’s nails?

The answer is YES, you can definitely cut your turtle’s nails. It is a good idea to trim turtle nails/claws twice a year otherwise it will overgrow and become sharp. When the nails are overgrown, they can snag on things and get ripped off. This is not only painful for the turtle but can also lead to infection. While cutting their nails, don’t cut too deep as it will bleed. But beware, turtles have sharp and long nails and if you’re not careful, they can give you a serious injury too.

What you need?

Image Product Price Purchase Link
Pet Nail Clippers for Small Animals $12.99 Buy on Amazon
DOGSWELL Remedy+Recovery Styptic Blood Stopper Powder $9.34 Buy on Amazon

Before planning to give your turtle a nail trim, it is important to gather all the supplies you need. This includes a sharp pair of turtle nail trimmers, a bowl of warm water, antiseptic cream, and some turtle nail files. You will also need to have a towel on hand to help keep your turtle calm and comfortable during the process.

While any pair of nail clippers are fine, it would be great if your nail clipper is proportional to the size of the turtle. As there are no specific turtle nail clippers available in the market, so I would rather advise using cat nail clippers for small size turtles. For larger turtle or tortoise you can use dog nail clippers as well.

How to cut your turtle’s nails?

There are two ways to cut your turtle’s nails. You can either do it yourself or take them to a professional groomer. If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need a sharp pair of nail clippers (preferably a cat nail clipper or any pet nail clipper) and some patience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to safely cut your turtle’s nails:

Step one: Calm your turtle by petting it or offering it a treat. Turtles don’t like when people touch them so it’s important to make them feel comfortable before proceeding.

Step two: Gently hold your turtle in your lap or on a flat surface. If your turtle is small enough, you can hold it in the palm of your hand. It would be best if you can wrap the turtle in a towel to keep it from moving around too much.

Step three: Using the nail clipper, cut the nails at a 45-degree angle. Be careful not to cut too close to the quick (the blood vessel in the nail). If you accidentally cut the quick, it will bleed and your turtle will be in pain.

Step four: You can use any pet nail clipper or even manicure scissors to cut the nails. But in any case, never use guillotine clippers as they can crush the nails. It is not good for precision cutting and even can cut skin or blood vessels around the nails.

Step five: Once you’re done cutting the nails, give your turtle a treat to let them know they did a good job!

Step six: Use a nail file to smooth out any sharp edges on the nails. This is rather a difficult task as turtles won’t like it when you file their nail. So in that case, you can skip this step.

Step seven: Wash their claws with warm water so it will remove any dirt or debris.

Step eight: Apply some antiseptic ointment on the nails to soothe them. That’s it! You’re done trimming your turtle’s nails.

Cutting your turtle’s nails doesn’t have to be a stressful experience for either of you. With a little bit of patience and the right tools, you can easily do it at home. Just be sure to take your time and be careful not to cut the quick. If you’re ever in doubt, always err on the side of caution and take your turtle to a professional groomer.

In case you cut into the turtle quick or it started bleeding

Don’t worry, it happens. Just use a little styptic powder, antiseptic cream, or cornstarch on the bleeding nail and hold it for a few seconds until the bleeding stops. If you don’t have any of those things around, a bar of soap will work in a pinch. Just hold the bar of soap against the turtle’s nail until the bleeding stops.

Don’t expect turtles to sit calm and relaxed while you are trying to stop the bleeding, they will most likely move around and make it difficult for you.

If the bleeding won’t stop, or if it’s spurting out, then you need to take your turtle to the vet ASAP. They’ll be able to take care of the situation and make sure that your turtle is healthy and happy.

Turtles have a lot of nerve endings in their tails so even if you just nick the turtle’s nail, they will feel it and let you know that they are not happy about it.

It is best to have someone help you hold the turtle while you cut its nails. One person can hold the turtle while the other person cuts the nails. This ensures that you will end up trimming their claws without any bloodshed.

Tips on how to avoid hurting your turtle during nail cutting

If you’re nervous about cutting your turtle’s nails, there are a few things you can do to make the process less stressful for both of you.

First, have everything you need within arm’s reach so you don’t have to move around too much and risk dropping your turtle.

Second, use a nail file instead of clippers if possible. This will be much less stressful for your turtle and you’ll have more control.

Finally, take your time and be extra careful not to cut the quick (the blood vessel in the nail). If you do accidentally cut the quick, don’t worry – just apply some pressure with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. You can also apply some antiseptic cream if it is available to you.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to cut your turtle’s nails like a pro! Just remember to go slowly, be gentle, and have everything you need close by.

Aftercare for the turtle after their nails are trimmed

After you trim your turtle’s nails, it’s important to give them the proper aftercare. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Turtles can be susceptible to infection, so make sure you clean their nails and any surrounding areas with warm water or apply gentle antiseptic to the area.
  • Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the nails to keep them moisturized.
  • If you accidentally cut the quick, apply a little pressure on there with a clean cloth until it stops bleeding. If the cut is a little deep you may need to apply a little styptic powder, antiseptic cream, or cornstarch (whichever is available) to stop the blooding.
  • Keep an eye on your turtle for the next few days to make sure their nails are not getting infected. If you see any redness, swelling, or discharge, contact your veterinarian.

Why trimming turtle nails is a good idea?

If you have more than one turtle, then trimming their nails is definitely a good idea. Not only can long nails cause serious injuries to other turtles during fights, but they can also hurt the turtles when they climb on top of each other for basking.

Here are a few reasons why trimming turtle nails is a good idea:

  • It can prevent serious injuries to other turtles.
  • It can help keep your turtles healthy and clean.
  • It can make your turtles more comfortable.
  • It can help your turtles move around more easily.
  • Long nails can also hurt you when you try to pick up your turtle.

Trimming your turtle’s nails twice a year is generally recommended. However, if you notice that your turtle’s nails are getting too long in between trimmings, then you can trim them more frequently.


As you can see, cutting turtle nails is not a difficult task. With a little bit of patience and the right tools, you can easily keep your turtle’s nails trimmed and healthy. We hope this guide has been helpful and that you now feel confident in trimming your turtle’s nails. Thanks for reading!