2015 Growth Experiment

Anyfoot

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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!
So like you said, feeding them anything and everything and more towards an omnivore diet.
 

FLINTUS

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@Tom I must have missed this, and then haven't been on in a while so not seen any updates.
Anyway, this is a very interesting concept, especially considering our previous conversations about self-regulation, in particular my belief that a tortoise needs to be able to find wetter areas, or drier, warmer areas. However, I have always believed, like you, that in captivity, this is taken to an extreme. Obviously a closed type enclosure with the heat source high above the ground reduces these problems, but even-so.
What does catch my eye, however, is these growth rates. I have stated before that I believe that for what ever reason, tortoises usually grow slower in the wild, taking longer to reach maturity. I do agree about intense heat speeding up growth with regards to @Anyfoot 's theory, and the keratin is probably less dense and more spread out as a result, but we have no proof for this. The general accepted consensus on here is that wild conditions are not optimal, and that in captivity, we can improve on that; hence, for example, a larger temperature gradient. What I believe you have shown, is the 'optimal', standard captive conditions, in comparison to wild conditions, where the heat gradient is less. Consequently, with these wild conditions, growth is slower, and can be bumpy depending on the variables: an example would be with your outside group.
Now the question is then, can we provide better artificial conditions in captivity, or are there negative side-effects?
 

DeanS

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@Tom (and anyone else that might be interested)...here's the link to my 8 that I shot today! The smoothest babies I've EVER raised! The photos don't prove nearly as well as the naked eye! Anyway, mine go out for about 4-5 hours a day! I've only kept them in chambers 24/7 twice in their first six months! They will turn seven months next week. They are all growing faster and larger than the Sudans we got from Brad in 2012 at the same age! The chamber is maintained between 90 and 100º 24/7. The humidity is maintained at 100% for two weeks at a time...then dries out gradually during that third week. The process is repeated every fourth week. Unlike Tom, who is going for the complete habitat...my use of the chamber is to mimic the burrow. The only light in the chamber is a Zoomed Reptisun 5.0 UVB tube that I only run an hour or two a day...right when I bring them in for the night!

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/8-new-babies-from-tom-aka-the-bond-girls-maybe.118641/page-5
 
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SteveW

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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. ...

I don't have an answer here, but I am also intrigued by and pursuing thermal gradients and microclimates. Anecdotally, I observe my leopard making extensive use of the different niches.

Also, and I may have misread/missed this, but it appears you changed the habitat and changed the diet (no Mazuri) at the same time. This could potentially be a significant and compounding variable when comparing growth rates.

Not germane to your objective, but this looks like a great approach to indoor redfoot housing.

Interesting work. Cheers!
 

Tom

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Also, and I may have misread/missed this, but it appears you changed the habitat and changed the diet (no Mazuri) at the same time. This could potentially be a significant and compounding variable when comparing growth rates.

Not germane to your objective, but this looks like a great approach to indoor redfoot housing.

I agree on both counts.
 

DeanS

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@Tom ...Do your six have new homes now? My eight are still damn near indistinguishable from one to the next... they weigh anywhere from 401 to 512 grams!
 

Tom

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@Tom ...Do your six have new homes now? My eight are still damn near indistinguishable from one to the next... they weigh anywhere from 401 to 512 grams!

They are sold, but I haven't shipped them yet.
 

Tom

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This experiment is all done. The results were unexpected, but useful none the less. Here is a summation of my observations:
1. They grow much slower in this sort of set up.
2. It seems that providing warm enough temps, but without a gradient, is not a superior way to grow them.
3. Growing them completely without the use of any IR-A producing incandescent bulbs did not prevent or reduce pyramiding, when compared to a similar set up using incandescent bulbs.

Here are the final weights and some pics:
IMG_3629.jpeg

Group shot: IMG_3632.jpeg

Mr. Blue was one of the smallest and demonstrated almost no pyramiding:
IMG_3635.jpeg


Mr Green was the largest and also the smoothest. Once again this goes against the "fast growth is bad and causes pyramiding" theory that we so often hear:
IMG_3638.jpeg


Mr. Orange was the smallest and also showed very minor pyramiding:
IMG_3644.jpeg


Mr. Silver:
IMG_3651.jpeg


Mr. Pink was in the middle size wise, but showed the most pyramiding:
IMG_3655.jpeg


Mr. Purple:
IMG_3664.jpeg
 

Yvonne G

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Thank you, Tom. I'm so glad you're willing to experiment with your babies and keep us in the loop with the results.
 

SteveW

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Excellent results. Seems to call into question not only the fast growth equals pyramiding, but also the IR-A causes pyramiding conjecture. By way of comparison, how do your normally raised hatchlings compare in regards to pyramiding and growth rate?
 

Tom

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Excellent results. Seems to call into question not only the fast growth equals pyramiding, but also the IR-A causes pyramiding conjecture. By way of comparison, how do your normally raised hatchlings compare in regards to pyramiding and growth rate?

My hatchlings raised in similar enclosures, but with over head incandescent lamps for heat and light grow 2 or 3 times faster than this, and the rate of pyramiding is about the same or less. There were many threads in the past that demonstrated this. Like this one: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/my-sudan-sulcatas.50806/
At the bottom of page four you can see them at 1000 grams at about a year old and completely smooth.

I was truly shocked that these current babies showed any pyramiding at all. I really thought it was the heat lamps that were doing the damage. This lot had no basking source of any kind. The RHPs in this experiment were too high up to be felt by the tortoises at ground level. They just served to warm the whole enclosure.
 

SteveW

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Fascinating. Very cool the variation you can demonstrate with the volume of sulcata hatchlings you've raised. Those of us with 'singles' can never tell if growth we see is the direct result of care provided, or we just happen to have an outlier.
I still want to duplicate the habitat for my redfoot.
 

Tom

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Very cool the variation you can demonstrate with the volume of sulcata hatchlings you've raised. Those of us with 'singles' can never tell if growth we see is the direct result of care provided, or we just happen to have an outlier.

I've pondered your above point many times and I've tried to explain this concept to people I've argued with a number of times…

In every group of every species I've raised there are a variety of results. The person raising just one, or even a small group might not see the variation. I've often thought to myself that if I had just been raising this one, or that one, I might have incorrectly come to the wrong conclusions about some things.

I still have no way to explain why some individuals of the same clutch, raised and fed the same way grow at such strikingly different rates and demonstrate such a variety of levels of pyramiding.

Much more to learn...
 

Blakem

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Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to investigate this topic.
 

GeorgeUK

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I found this thread via The Reptile Report on FB. Fascinating experiment Tom. Thank you for sharing.
 

Jimb

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This has been an amazing & educational thread. Thanks so much for sharing your experiment and everyone's input.
You said you were planning on selling these come Christmas time so I'm interested in knowing if they're sold and if not how much you're asking and how much the shipping would be? Some breeders charge a set amount for shipping.
Thanks again for sharing your experiment!
 

Tom

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This has been an amazing & educational thread. Thanks so much for sharing your experiment and everyone's input.
You said you were planning on selling these come Christmas time so I'm interested in knowing if they're sold and if not how much you're asking and how much the shipping would be? Some breeders charge a set amount for shipping.
Thanks again for sharing your experiment!



They have all been sold. Sorry.
 
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