2015 Growth Experiment

Alaskamike

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
1,742
Location (City and/or State)
South Florida
I am following this experiment with interest. Though I have no babies now - and really have no plans to raise more - anything that can advance the hobby and quality of care interests me.

I used to be criticized roundly for removing the overhead CHE and using a human heating pad instead to keep my enclosure at 80f. And it also produced a warm spot in the soil that stayed 90-95f all the time. The pad was under a piece of thin slate. I kept water in there sitting on the slate too to keep it warm. , just put a board over the top to keep in the heat, but never thought of a closed chamber to make it easy) nor was I aware of need for humidity., though in retrospect the humidity in there had to be higher because the heated slate was evaporating the water from the dish. . This was many yrs ago - before Tom and many others proved the humidity help And showed best ways to do it. I had no clue.

I too found that 5 - 6 hours of direct sunlight a week was enough to provide the D3. It was a herp vet who worked at the zoo that told me that , and said no need for a UV lamp if you can get them into real sunlight.

A suspicion of the damagingeffect of heat lamps had me trying new things , and while it was only 2 leopards , they both turned out pretty smooth. But I still thought it was mainly a diet issue with too much protein that was the culprit for pyramiding. If anyone one asked that's all I told them. And at that time, there were not many CB Leopards that were smooth.

Wish I still had those 2. But I was made an offer for them I couldn't refuse. Hahaha.

Today I see many Leopards that almost look wild caught, with good smooth growth. But it's still mostly the young ones, being raised with the new methods.

I like that there is a recognition of the evolutionary conditioning of tortoises for their health and survival. Tom and others recognized this early with the humidity issue. And of course the bold ones that stay out in the open too long will be eaten and never pass on their genetics. They don't sit out in the sun 10 hours a day.

Great work Tom. The hobby owes you - among others - a debt of gratitude
 

TerrapinStation

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2015
Messages
669
Location (City and/or State)
Detroit, Michigan
Wow. very cool and informative. Those are some lucky Sulcata's to have you taking care of them.

I was hoping that the Mr. Green, Mr Blue, Mr. Pink Reservoir Tortoise theme would keep going though, I pictured them all wearing suits & smoking cigarettes as they planned a jewelry store heist..... The getaway would be great to watch....
 

Anyfoot

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
6,312
Location (City and/or State)
UK Sheffield
@Tom. Can you do me a favour please?
Could you check what temperature your radiant pad gives out at substrate level when you get a minute. I know you have it on a stat, But could do with knowing how hot it can project heat at what ever the height of you enclosure is. How heigh is your enclosure? Cheers.
Oh yeah. I too would like to see an update :D
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,479
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
10/14/2015 UPDATE:

IMG_3601.JPG

IMG_3604.JPG

All is progressing well. Their growth is slow, steady and smooth, but they are growing at about half the rate of their siblings being raised with Dean. This growth rate is remarkably similar to my babies that were raised outside all day every day in a well panted, well shaded enclosure. These are growing smoothly while those ones were pyramiding just a little bit, but the rate is very close.

I'm at a loss to explain this. I don't see what difference a heat lamp would really make here, but it apparently does. I suppose they do better with the ability to thermoregulate more. It is warm enough for them to live and be healthy, but it seems that the option to get hotter or cooler is a good option to offer. I still don't like our over head, electric, IR-A producing heat lamps, but I have not yet found a better alternative. While these babies are healthy, active and showing good appetite, so are their siblings at twice the size. Fast growth is not the goal, but if two groups of direct siblings from the same clutch are demonstrating similar health and good growth, doesn't the faster growing bunch indicate that they are thriving and doing better than the slower growers?

Perhaps next year I will look for an alternate heat source to offer a thermal gradient, but without the over head IR-A. I suppose I should also raise a batch in this enclosure with an incandescent lamp just to check that too...
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,479
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
@Tom. Can you do me a favour please?
Could you check what temperature your radiant pad gives out at substrate level when you get a minute. I know you have it on a stat, But could do with knowing how hot it can project heat at what ever the height of you enclosure is. How heigh is your enclosure? Cheers.
Oh yeah. I too would like to see an update :D

The enclosure is 24" tall. At that height, there is no discernible difference directly under the RHP vs. out from under it.
 

Nephelle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2015
Messages
266
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh, PA
10/14/2015 UPDATE:

View attachment 152515

View attachment 152516

All is progressing well. Their growth is slow, steady and smooth, but they are growing at about half the rate of their siblings being raised with Dean. This growth rate is remarkably similar to my babies that were raised outside all day every day in a well panted, well shaded enclosure. These are growing smoothly while those ones were pyramiding just a little bit, but the rate is very close.

I'm at a loss to explain this. I don't see what difference a heat lamp would really make here, but it apparently does. I suppose they do better with the ability to thermoregulate more. It is warm enough for them to live and be healthy, but it seems that the option to get hotter or cooler is a good option to offer. I still don't like our over head, electric, IR-A producing heat lamps, but I have not yet found a better alternative. While these babies are healthy, active and showing good appetite, so are their siblings at twice the size. Fast growth is not the goal, but if two groups of direct siblings from the same clutch are demonstrating similar health and good growth, doesn't the faster growing bunch indicate that they are thriving and doing better than the slower growers?

Perhaps next year I will look for an alternate heat source to offer a thermal gradient, but without the over head IR-A. I suppose I should also raise a batch in this enclosure with an incandescent lamp just to check that too...

Tom, I am way too new to tortoises to legitimately have any sort of opinion, so please read this as a curious pondering :)

I have been following this thread with interest. This quote from above - "Fast growth is not the goal, but if two groups of direct siblings from the same clutch are demonstrating similar health and good growth, doesn't the faster growing bunch indicate that they are thriving and doing better than the slower growers?" got me wondering!

From what I understand, this was an attempt to simulate a more "natural" growth environment for these babies, as they might experience in the wild? (I have read where you said there is very little known, so I think this is really cool!) In my mind, it would make sense for a baby that is spending most of it's time hidden to maintain a slower, steady growth pattern--the faster it grows, the more food it would need to consume, and the faster it would outgrow it's safe hiding spot and need to emerge unprotected into the world. I also wonder if the pattern of growth would reflect the change in seasons for the area they are from--for instance, if they first showed themselves in the rainy season, their growth might be timed with their natural environment?

I would imagine any living thing provided with an optimum growing environment would thrive in it, however because you are trying a more natural approach, maybe there are more factors at play!

As I said, just loose change rattling around. This is absolutely fascinating, thank you for the continued updates! This is an awesome thread to follow.

:<3::<3:
 

Anyfoot

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
6,312
Location (City and/or State)
UK Sheffield
Yep. That's pretty much the assumption I came up with.( your words are better than mine though).
In captivity are we are aiming for the optimum(feed,heat,light etc). Where as in reality in the wild they go through good and bad times over an annual period slowing the growth through bad times.
However in Toms experiment the only thing he has changed is the heat source. So a more intense heat must make them grow faster. Maybe because it increases the appetite.
I actually think that this experiment is proving yet another piece of the jigsaw puzzle to Tortoise care.
Hot spots increase growth rate and in turn a more open and porous karatin growth. Not as dense and stable as slow growth.
I can't prove it. I am too on the 1st runner of the ladder to Tortoise care.

Off topic a bit here.
Does anyone out there force their tortoises to go through bad times, I.e not an abundance of the best foods year round?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,479
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Off topic a bit here.
Does anyone out there force their tortoises to go through bad times, I.e not an abundance of the best foods year round?

Yes. We discuss that here all the time. Many people leave the heat and lights off indoors for a day or two to simulate a cold rainy spell in the wild. Many people skip feeding days, or in some cases they don't feed their tortoises at all and just let them eat whatever they can scrounge outside in their pens. Yvonne frequently says that is what she does with Dudley. I did this with a bunch that I raised in the 90's. What I ended up with was stunted, pyramided, undersized adults 14 years later.
 

Anyfoot

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
6,312
Location (City and/or State)
UK Sheffield
Yes. We discuss that here all the time. Many people leave the heat and lights off indoors for a day or two to simulate a cold rainy spell in the wild. Many people skip feeding days, or in some cases they don't feed their tortoises at all and just let them eat whatever they can scrounge outside in their pens. Yvonne frequently says that is what she does with Dudley. I did this with a bunch that I raised in the 90's. What I ended up with was stunted, pyramided, undersized adults 14 years later.
Thanks Tom. When you did this in the 90's was this before the humidity issue came on the scene?

Ahhhh, the 90's. Those were the days. :D
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,479
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thanks Tom. When you did this in the 90's was this before the humidity issue came on the scene?

Ahhhh, the 90's. Those were the days. :D

Yes. Hot, dry and feeding "natural" foods irregularly and in small amounts was supposed to emulate "the wild" and be the best thing for them. 2007 was the first time the humidity thing struck me. In that year I had both some first hand experiences in humid parts of the country and the Fifes released their Leopard Tortoise book that specifically mentions using humid hides. Knowledge evolved rapidly for the next few years after that. For several years I knew that "it" worked, but I could not explain exactly why. It was 2011 when I met Tomas Diagne from Senegal and he explain how things really work over their with regards to the monsoon season and what not.
 

Team Gomberg

IXOYE
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,678
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
----In my mind, it would make sense for a baby that is spending most of it's time hidden to maintain a slower, steady growth pattern--the faster it grows, the more food it would need to consume, and the faster it would outgrow it's safe hiding spot and need to emerge unprotected into the world----

Now see, I disagree with this.

See, in my mind it makes more sense that a baby in the wild would grow faster. The faster it grows, the quicker it moves up on the food chain.
We see humid raised Sulcatas reaching near a foot long at 1 year of age. Small 4" hatchlings are on the menu for more critters at that small size than at a foot long. Wouldn't getting off that menu in a years time be better than being on the menu for 4 or 5 years? Quite a few dry started Sulcatas are still pretty small at those ages..
I'm just saying...that's how I see it.

It's all very interesting and there are many things we just don't know. These experiments are great for getting more pieces to the puzzles though, that's for sure!
 
Last edited:

DeanS

SULCATA OASIS
10 Year Member!
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
4,405
Location (City and/or State)
SoCal
It should be pointed out that I'm ONLY using a 120W RHP and a zoomed UV fluorescent tube...but they've mostly been outdoors and spend most of that time in overgrown grass (in the shade). Although nearly twice the size of Tom's, they are completely smooth...ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! BUT... for this I credit Tom's flawless incubation technique! Tthat and the fact that I allow a little more protein intake than most hobbyists are comfortable with! But, and I've said this before, as long as they're properly hydrated...protein is NOT a negative!
 

Anyfoot

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
6,312
Location (City and/or State)
UK Sheffield
It should be pointed out that I'm ONLY using a 120W RHP and a zoomed UV fluorescent tube...but they've mostly been outdoors and spend most of that time in overgrown grass (in the shade). Although nearly twice the size of Tom's, they are completely smooth...ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! BUT... for this I credit Tom's flawless incubation technique! Tthat and the fact that I allow a little more protein intake than most hobbyists are comfortable with! But, and I've said this before, as long as they're properly hydrated...protein is NOT a negative!
What do you feed for the protein intake?
 

DeanS

SULCATA OASIS
10 Year Member!
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
4,405
Location (City and/or State)
SoCal
What do you feed for the protein intake?
Mazuri has some...as does alfalfa hay...and whatever the dogs leave that I don't get to in time! :p Plus, I've witnessed these guys eat earthworms, sow bugs...and various other beetles. And two of them go nuts for MONSTRO!'s um...logs!
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top