Blade is a tiny little tortoise with a very serious mobility problem. Blade has trouble moving because, as a result of a metabolic bone disease, he is unable to carry the weight of his own shell. When his owner noticed that he seemed less active than other pets, he took Blade to a veterinarian.
Dr. Carsten Plischke discovered the tortoise had the disease, and explained that the bones—including Blade’s shell—were like rubber making it difficult for the tortoise to move about. The condition also severely weakened Blade’s muscles.
Undeterred, Dr. Plischke took inspiration from Legos and built a tiny rolling platform for Blade, and glued it to Blade’s underside. It relieves Blade of his shell’s weight by holding it off the ground, giving the tortoise the ability to rely on his own legs for direction and movement.
“For people there are walkers, rollators or prostheses,” said Dr. Plischke. “But for animals there are no companies that produce something like that. The size variation of animals means they can’t establish uniform products. So you have to come up with creative solutions; every animal needs its own treatment.”
Dr. Plischke believes that Blade won’t always have to rely upon the little makeshift “wheelchair,” because the tortoise’s newfound mobility should allow him to rebuild and strengthen his leg muscles.
Check out Blade in the video above, as he adjusts to his new wheels—skip to 1:50 timestamp to see him in action.