A Critique of the Redfoot Care Sheet

Kapidolo Farms

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Wow, I just began keeping redfoots at the beginning of 2018. I used the Tortoise Library as a recent jumping off point. I posted a few times my consternation that the link to the Tortoise Library did not work (glad it does again). I called and spoke to Terry many times, how he writes and how he talks seem to communicate differently, but that's my case too.

So far the result of following Terry's narrated suggestions have helped, but have always been tempered by my reading a great deal of many other things. That goes back to over 30 years ago reading publications of Karen Bjorndal.

I also keep several Kinixys and Indotestduo which are niche homologous species.

The over all problem with Care sheets, all of them. They act like a cake recipe in most peoples' minds. Mix and bake in an oven. Just how much Mix and how much water, for how long at what temp. Most ovens are standard, most cake pans are standard. Tortoises are organic, no-two-the-same, organisms. And when you add in all the outside climates we deal with and the ones we make, no single care sheet with intense detail will be a one-all. You have the guidelines of a care sheet, but not the history of experience, and the daily look at them and see what's happening.

That means what one caresheet writer has done may not work for another.

Many of the ways Tom writes care sheet is pretty good, they set bounds, do's and do-nots, maximums and minimums, and leave what I would call situation specific details out. What he does in his care sheets though is assure you he has vetted what he's done himself.

I am a reasonably good critical reader, I see that often in my day job working in a BioPharmaceutical lab. When I read care sheets I skim over the opinion that is not based on direct or indirect observation (what they read and are reporting on) of the author.

I have gotten value out of all the contributors of this thread regarding Red-Foots, but of TFO specific authors "Tortoise Library" wins. Maybe it is writing style?
 

cdmay

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Wow, I just began keeping redfoots at the beginning of 2018. I used the Tortoise Library as a recent jumping off point. I posted a few times my consternation that the link to the Tortoise Library did not work (glad it does again). I called and spoke to Terry many times, how he writes and how he talks seem to communicate differently, but that's my case too.

So far the result of following Terry's narrated suggestions have helped, but have always been tempered by my reading a great deal of many other things. That goes back to over 30 years ago reading publications of Karen Bjorndal.

I also keep several Kinixys and Indotestduo which are niche homologous species.

The over all problem with Care sheets, all of them. They act like a cake recipe in most peoples' minds. Mix and bake in an oven. Just how much Mix and how much water, for how long at what temp. Most ovens are standard, most cake pans are standard. Tortoises are organic, no-two-the-same, organisms. And when you add in all the outside climates we deal with and the ones we make, no single care sheet with intense detail will be a one-all. You have the guidelines of a care sheet, but not the history of experience, and the daily look at them and see what's happening.

That means what one caresheet writer has done may not work for another.

Many of the ways Tom writes care sheet is pretty good, they set bounds, do's and do-nots, maximums and minimums, and leave what I would call situation specific details out. What he does in his care sheets though is assure you he has vetted what he's done himself.

I am a reasonably good critical reader, I see that often in my day job working in a BioPharmaceutical lab. When I read care sheets I skim over the opinion that is not based on direct or indirect observation (what they read and are reporting on) of the author.

I have gotten value out of all the contributors of this thread regarding Red-Foots, but of TFO specific authors "Tortoise Library" wins. Maybe it is writing style?

Agree. Nice response!
 

rmn813

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Huh. I created a whole website to try to offer care ideas gleaned from dozens of documented sources, including scholarly journals. I know that the TortoiseLibrary.Com has struggled under new management (when I turned it over many years ago), and I often think about finding a new way to do it. I'm pretty sure I've posted 'one sheet' care sheets in the past, but I get frustrated at things like that because when you care for a redfoot or similar animal, you need to manage the entire environment for it and that usually takes some work and information.

I also wrote a review of NERDs stuff back in 2010, echoing many of CDMay's thoughts. I guess history repeats itself.

Tell you what. If someone can help take care of the tech side of it (domain name, hosting ideas, formating, etc.) I would be willing to do an updated version of the Library, even including helpful info from other people.
Mark, I'd be happy to help with the tech side.
 

Madkins007

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The Library's fine, Mark. It's just that we wanted something stickied, or pinned at the top of our section on RF tortoises. That's where most people look first for care info.
I had gotten a lot of comments by message or email about glitches in the Library. I've looked it over, and there are a lot of missing illustrations, weird formatting, old notes, missing pages, and so on (including some writing I am now embarrassed by). I've contacted Josh about what I can do to help with it, but never gotten an answer. So lately I've been toying with the idea of a TortoiseLibrary V.III that is cleaned up, better formatted, etc.- but I would need help for the tech stuff, and would love to see other people post articles for.

RMN813- send me a message, let's see if we can get a foundation figured out.
 

Madkins007

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Wow, I just began keeping redfoots at the beginning of 2018. I used the Tortoise Library as a recent jumping off point. I posted a few times my consternation that the link to the Tortoise Library did not work (glad it does again). I called and spoke to Terry many times, how he writes and how he talks seem to communicate differently, but that's my case too.

So far the result of following Terry's narrated suggestions have helped, but have always been tempered by my reading a great deal of many other things. That goes back to over 30 years ago reading publications of Karen Bjorndal.

I also keep several Kinixys and Indotestduo which are niche homologous species.

The over all problem with Care sheets, all of them. They act like a cake recipe in most peoples' minds. Mix and bake in an oven. Just how much Mix and how much water, for how long at what temp. Most ovens are standard, most cake pans are standard. Tortoises are organic, no-two-the-same, organisms. And when you add in all the outside climates we deal with and the ones we make, no single care sheet with intense detail will be a one-all. You have the guidelines of a care sheet, but not the history of experience, and the daily look at them and see what's happening.

That means what one caresheet writer has done may not work for another.

Many of the ways Tom writes care sheet is pretty good, they set bounds, do's and do-nots, maximums and minimums, and leave what I would call situation specific details out. What he does in his care sheets though is assure you he has vetted what he's done himself.

I am a reasonably good critical reader, I see that often in my day job working in a BioPharmaceutical lab. When I read care sheets I skim over the opinion that is not based on direct or indirect observation (what they read and are reporting on) of the author.

I have gotten value out of all the contributors of this thread regarding Red-Foots, but of TFO specific authors "Tortoise Library" wins. Maybe it is writing style?

I appreciate the nice words. I noticed the same 'my approach for everyone' mentality as well and realized that someone keeping tortoises on an acreage in southern Florida has different needs and challenges than a keeper in an apartment in downtown Toronto.

That's why the Library is a website instead of a caresheet. How do you provide high humidity? That depends on your location, local climate, indoor climate, space available, and budget. In the Library, I can discuss a dozen different options. On a short caresheet, you barely have space to mention 'humidity good'.

Something else I notice on a lot of caresheets is a reflection of what seem to be almost 'fad beliefs'. Things I've seen in different places at different times include things like 'no spinach', 'oxalates terrible', 'cabbage family bad', 'tomatoes and/or banana evil', 'glass aquaria terrible', vitamin supplementation is vital, Mazuri is a gift from God or a curse of the Devil, and so on. Almost none of these are supported by research or apply to tortoises (I saw some website that said to never use something or other because it was dangerous for some pet birds, but European tortoise keepers had used forever- maybe avocado?)

I had a copy of Dr. Mader's "Reptile Medicine and Surgery" book and was always fascinated at how many times the experts in it disagreed with the hobbyists on forums. I decided to try to base what I wrote in the Library on things I could find some actual research on.
 

Yvonne G

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I had gotten a lot of comments by message or email about glitches in the Library. I've looked it over, and there are a lot of missing illustrations, weird formatting, old notes, missing pages, and so on (including some writing I am now embarrassed by). I've contacted Josh about what I can do to help with it, but never gotten an answer. So lately I've been toying with the idea of a TortoiseLibrary V.III that is cleaned up, better formatted, etc.- but I would need help for the tech stuff, and would love to see other people post articles for.

RMN813- send me a message, let's see if we can get a foundation figured out.
I've always referred RF care questions to the library, and never had any bad feedback. Sorry, I didn't know there was a problem with it. Would you like me to ask Josh what you can do to help with the Library?
 

mark1

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I had a copy of Dr. Mader's "Reptile Medicine and Surgery" book and was always fascinated at how many times the experts in it disagreed with the hobbyists on forums. I decided to try to base what I wrote in the Library on things I could find some actual research on.

I think both sides have something to offer …… when it comes to disagreements between the sides I tend to go the same route as you ……

if redfoots get enough vitamin d3 from a diet of possibly 10-15% animal matter , why do my wood turtles and blanding's turtles need the sun when their diet is probably 90% animal matter ?

if redfoots are a rainforest species what prevents them from interbreeding with yellowfoots in overlapping ranges ? box turtles have a similar situation , interbreeding is rare due to the fact they inhabit different habitats in those overlapping ranges …..
 

Madkins007

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I think both sides have something to offer …… when it comes to disagreements between the sides I tend to go the same route as you ……

if redfoots get enough vitamin d3 from a diet of possibly 10-15% animal matter , why do my wood turtles and blanding's turtles need the sun when their diet is probably 90% animal matter ?

if redfoots are a rainforest species what prevents them from interbreeding with yellowfoots in overlapping ranges ? box turtles have a similar situation , interbreeding is rare due to the fact they inhabit different habitats in those overlapping ranges …..

Fecal studies do not really support the idea that they get D3 from their diet. Butterflies, ants, and termites are the most common 'meats' with carrion being fairly rare- unlikely to be the source (D3 is mostly from organ meats- by the time tortoises get to a carcass, most of what is left is strands of jerky).

Mushrooms and other fungi are a common dietary element and one of the few sources of D2, but even so, there is not a lot of D2 in a mushroom and D2 is less efficient than D3. It MAY be the source for vitamin D they need, but when you crunch the numbers of the dose needed by the dose available in mushrooms- it does not seem to match up. (Source: Moscovitiz's thesis on redfoots- chock full of fascinating info that is a pain to read through!)

Now, it is possible that mushrooms provide forest tortoise species supplemental vitamin D. This would be helpful during long cloudy periods and mushrooms are a pretty reliable food source in tropical habitats. However, most wild redfoots live in savannahs, scrub forests, and forest edges or breaks and have been frequently documented displaying traditional basking behavior. (I've seen my redfoots bask in the 'sun worship' position after a cool night, too.)

The idea that they get their D3 from diet does not really help us anyway. Almost no foods you can buy that the tortoise will eat has much D3- other than organ meats which are otherwise not a very healthy choice, and D3 supplements are not very well absorbed.

As for interbreeding- habitat selection and differing mating rituals, which I believe boxies do as well.
 

cdmay

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I think both sides have something to offer …… when it comes to disagreements between the sides I tend to go the same route as you ……

if redfoots get enough vitamin d3 from a diet of possibly 10-15% animal matter , why do my wood turtles and blanding's turtles need the sun when their diet is probably 90% animal matter ?

if redfoots are a rainforest species what prevents them from interbreeding with yellowfoots in overlapping ranges ? box turtles have a similar situation , interbreeding is rare due to the fact they inhabit different habitats in those overlapping ranges …..

Good reasoning Mark1.
In some areas (e.g. northern Brazil) both red-footed tortoises and yellow-footed tortoises are not only found in the same general habitat, but in the very same micro-habitats. Moskovits and others (I think Karen Bjorndal too) reported on both species feeding on fruits and flowers of specific trees at the same time. Also, both were found resting in the same tree falls and brush piles. Why they don't interbreed is likely because of a combination of behavioral and pheromone cues.
 

cdmay

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I appreciate the nice words. I noticed the same 'my approach for everyone' mentality as well and realized that someone keeping tortoises on an acreage in southern Florida has different needs and challenges than a keeper in an apartment in downtown Toronto.

That's why the Library is a website instead of a caresheet. How do you provide high humidity? That depends on your location, local climate, indoor climate, space available, and budget. In the Library, I can discuss a dozen different options. On a short caresheet, you barely have space to mention 'humidity good'.

Something else I notice on a lot of caresheets is a reflection of what seem to be almost 'fad beliefs'. Things I've seen in different places at different times include things like 'no spinach', 'oxalates terrible', 'cabbage family bad', 'tomatoes and/or banana evil', 'glass aquaria terrible', vitamin supplementation is vital, Mazuri is a gift from God or a curse of the Devil, and so on. Almost none of these are supported by research or apply to tortoises (I saw some website that said to never use something or other because it was dangerous for some pet birds, but European tortoise keepers had used forever- maybe avocado?)

I had a copy of Dr. Mader's "Reptile Medicine and Surgery" book and was always fascinated at how many times the experts in it disagreed with the hobbyists on forums. I decided to try to base what I wrote in the Library on things I could find some actual research on.

Really appreciate some of the great responses here.
Will made an excellent statement about comparing Care Sheets to cake recipes. When one is dealing with a living organism you need to dispense with words like 'always', 'never' and the like. As soon as you claim that a certain animal will always do, or not do some something, they will turn around and embarrass you.

It is likely that all of the various Care Sheets attached to this forum (or any other forum) are useful to one degree or another. But it is important that each keeper understand that they must employ common sense as well. And---this must be said---not everyone who WANTS to keep a tortoise necessarily SHOULD be keeping a tortoise. Some people are just lousy at animal husbandry. But a potentially good tortoise keeper will begin to develop their own 'tortoise keeping sense' and will make adjustments to what they are doing.

Here's an example: a friend of mine in Florida began keeping red-footed tortoises some years ago before we met. He started with super nice captive hatched animals. As he was conscientious about how he would care for his new tortoises, he read up on the advice given out by members of this forum. He even consulted the care sheet produced by one of the members and used it as a guideline. As he read the Care Sheet (and various threads and posts) he developed an almost irrational fear of letting his growing animals show any signs whatsoever of the dreaded pyramiding. Because of some dogmatic comments made on the Forum he felt that if his animals were not 'perfectly smooth', then it meant he was a failure as a keeper. So he continued to employ the 'mist them till they drip' approach and kept his tortoises in a super humid environment. The result was that his animals had smooth shells (mostly), but their plastrons became caked with shell fungus.
Fortunately the guy had good animal sense and sought out a better, more well rounded approach.
Everyone needs to keep things like this in mind when either producing a Care Sheet, or reading one.
 

mark1

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in captivity t. Carolina box turtles seem to interbreed indiscriminately . it has been shown a sight barrier will keep a males unaware of a female in proximity , when the sight barrier is remover they he will pursue her …..

how did carbonaria and denticulata separate into two separate species living in the same environment ?

Moskowitz ? I remember reading about seed dispersal , might have been him ? I believe one aspect of them being efficient at dispersing seeds was them seeking areas of sunlight hitting the ground ?
 

cdmay

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in captivity t. Carolina box turtles seem to interbreed indiscriminately . it has been shown a sight barrier will keep a males unaware of a female in proximity , when the sight barrier is remover they he will pursue her …..

how did carbonaria and denticulata separate into two separate species living in the same environment ?

Moskowitz ? I remember reading about seed dispersal , might have been him ? I believe one aspect of them being efficient at dispersing seeds was them seeking areas of sunlight hitting the ground ?

How they remain as separate species while living together is a bit of a mystery unless one considers the pheromones of each being unique.
In some river systems in Mississippi and Alabama, two completely separate species of Graptemys can be seen basking together on the same log. Go figure.

Also, it is Debra Moskovits who did this study:
The behavior and ecology of the two Amazonian tortoises, Geochelone carbonaria and Geochelone denticulata, in northwestern Brasil

 

cdmay

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How they remain as separate species while living together is a bit of a mystery unless one considers the pheromones of each being unique.
In some river systems in Mississippi and Alabama, two completely separate species of Graptemys can be seen basking together on the same log. Go figure.

Also, it is Debra Moskovits who did this study:
The behavior and ecology of the two Amazonian tortoises, Geochelone carbonaria and Geochelone denticulata, in northwestern Brasil

Debbie Moskovits did a number of papers on the diet of the two species along with Karen Bjorndal. All of it is great stuff!
 

mark1

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I believe to become a separate species they require some form of isolation from each other ? can a redfoot reproduce fertile offspring with a yellowfoot tortoise ? as for graptemys , I would wonder how they came back together , artificially is a possibility , they had to be isolated at some point ….. all the graptemys I am familiar with are capable of hybridizing , many wild hybrids are documented …… as recent as some of the graptemys species have been documented , I have to wonder to what extent man may have to do with some of them …… I can remember tanks full of map turtle hatchlings right along side red eared slider tanks at Woolworth's …….
 

Madkins007

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I believe to become a separate species they require some form of isolation from each other ? can a redfoot reproduce fertile offspring with a yellowfoot tortoise ? as for graptemys , I would wonder how they came back together , artificially is a possibility , they had to be isolated at some point ….. all the graptemys I am familiar with are capable of hybridizing , many wild hybrids are documented …… as recent as some of the graptemys species have been documented , I have to wonder to what extent man may have to do with some of them …… I can remember tanks full of map turtle hatchlings right along side red eared slider tanks at Woolworth's …….
I don't remember the paper or book, but somewhere I saw a chart of the change of the populations of C. denticulata and carbonaria correlated with changes to the forest ranges and habitats. They were very isolated over several periods, mostly with yellowfoots remaining in a large centrally located clump and redfoots forming a series of pockets around them that grew and shrank over time.

I have seen a lot of claims of hybrids, but nothing really convincing. The big DNA paper* about the groups of Chelonoidis does not even mention the possibility of hybridization.

*= Vargas-Ramirez, Mario and Jerome Maran, Uwe Fritz. "Red- and yellow-footed tortoises, Chelonoidis carbonaria and C. denticulata (Reptilia: Testudines: Testudinidae), in South American savannahs and forests: do their phylogeographies reflect distinct habitats?" Organisms, Diversity and Evolution, 2010.
 

Madkins007

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Debbie Moskovits did a number of papers on the diet of the two species along with Karen Bjorndal. All of it is great stuff!
I'd LOVE to see a 'for civilians' version of her works available at sites like this. I asked her about something like this years ago and I got no response as far as I can recall.
 

Redstrike

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I believe to become a separate species they require some form of isolation from each other ? can a redfoot reproduce fertile offspring with a yellowfoot tortoise ? as for graptemys , I would wonder how they came back together , artificially is a possibility , they had to be isolated at some point ….. all the graptemys I am familiar with are capable of hybridizing , many wild hybrids are documented …… as recent as some of the graptemys species have been documented , I have to wonder to what extent man may have to do with some of them …… I can remember tanks full of map turtle hatchlings right along side red eared slider tanks at Woolworth's …….

Though not the primary method, speciation can occur through hybridization followed by some isolating event(s).
A species, by definition, must produce viable offspring as you’ve stated above. So the definition gets blurry when we observe successful hybridization (with viable offspring) with related species that have been isolated for extended periods of geologic time. One thing i can say, is sometimes sterilization occurs in the second or third offspring via hybrids. So it’s not always easy to observe.

The other thing to consider is hybrids may have a survival disadvantage in the wild that is not present in captivity. I’m speaking on traits and behaviors that may be interrupted via the new genetics.

The door can swing the other way too. It can be a serious conservation issue as we’ve seen with some duck species that have been genetically “swamped” by an invasive. Hawaiian ducks have been lambasted with Australian black duck genetic swamping.
 

Yvonne G

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All of this good back and forth information is going to be lost to future 'searches' because you're doing it in the Critique thread.
 

cdmay

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All of this good back and forth information is going to be lost to future 'searches' because you're doing it in the Critique thread.
Yvonne is right. Now we are talking about something completely off topic. Sorry boys.
 

mark1

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well then i'll check out with one final random possible thought ……..somehow critiquing the original care sheet lead me here ,


Population genetics of the Amazonian tortoises, Chelonoidis denticulata and C. carbonaria, (Cryptodira: Testudinidae) in an area of sympatry
Izeni Pires Farias1,*, Adriano Jerozolimski2, Afrânio Melo1, Maria das Neves Viana1, Marcio Martins3, Luis Alberto dos Santos Monjeló1


http://eco.ib.usp.br/labvert/population-genetics-chelonoidis.pdf

Four individuals from Site number 04 (Moikarakô) identified as C. carbonaria had haplotypes of C. denticulata. Haplotype CdH01 was found in two individuals, CdH03 was found in one individual, and the singleton CdH04 was found in one individual.HaplotypesCdH01and CdH03 were the two most common haplotypes of C. denticulata. The presence of these haplotypes within the four C. carbonaria individuals could be the result of an ancestral polymorphism maintained in the population during the separation of C. denticulata and C. carbonaria, or it could indicate a possible hybridization event(s) in the region. However, considering that the maximal within species genetic divergence is approximately 15 times smaller than between species genetic divergence, the coalescent theory suggests it is highly unlikely that the C. denticulata haplotypes observed in morphological C. carbonaria are due to incomplete lineage sorting (Templeton, 2006). A more plausible explanation is the introgression of C. denticulata mtDNA into C. carbonaria driven by hybridization between the females of C. denticulata and their hybrid offsprings, and males of
C. carbonaria. Occurrence of introgressive hybridization events is higher in areas of sympatry or parapatry than in areas of allopatry (Taylor and McPhail, 2000) and particularly in areas where one species is expanding into the range of another species(seeBallardandWhitlock,2004 for review), and is often associated with ecologically disturbed areas (Allendorf et al., 2001). Jerozolimski (2005) estimated densities of C. denticulata at 25.16-31.44 individuals per km2, while those of C. carbonaria were estimated at 7.87-20.14 individuals per km2. The hypothesized introgression of mtDNA from the higher density C.denticulata into the expanding lower density C. carbonaria fits the above ecological context of introgression, and is analogous to the well known instance of introgression of coyote mtDNA into wolf populations of Minnesota, an area where low-density wolf populations are expanding into a region currently occupied by coyotes (Lehman et al., 1991). Unless the C. carbonaria genome is dominant over the C. denticulata genome, we view introgression as a more likely pattern than bidirectional hybridization since C. carbonaria mtDNA haplotypes were not found in morphological C. denticulata specimens. Furthermore, none of the putative introgressed individuals exhibited intermediate hybrid morphologies and were unambiguously assignable to C. carbonaria (Jerozolimski, pers. obs.). An examination of hybridization phenomena between the two Chelonoidis species is outside the scope of this study, since it requires a more intensive sampling of both species at Site number 04 and an analysis of a suite of nuclear markers.
 
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