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Does diet contribute to pyramiding.

Discussion in 'Advanced Tortoise Topics' started by Anyfoot, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    THAT is how to raise RF's and YF's! You'll get perfect carapaces and wonderful growth - following the right diet as well.
  2. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Very nice. I notice your 2 yr olds show some, what could be mistaken to be minor pyramiding. Have you noticed there is a point during growth where they get slightly bumpy then it grows out smooth. If yes, is it the bone structure developing under the scutes that we are seeing?
  3. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    I've had a few of them look like they'd start to pyramid, then in a few months it was back to smooth growth. So far, no issues.
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  4. Erik Elvis

    Erik Elvis Active Member

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    I acquired 2 redfoots a little while ago that are 2 years old. They were raised together in the same conditions and food. They were in an open kiddie pool but substrate kept moist and sprayed a few times a day. A mvb was used for uvb. They are both about 5 inches but one is moderately pyramided while the other with little to none. The pyramided one is a voracious feeder and always seems hungry.

    Thoughts?
  5. Erik Elvis

    Erik Elvis Active Member

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    Here they are.
    4B0B8D1F-B549-4CB6-AAC4-D0B3EF669B75.jpeg
  6. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    The pyramided one could have hogged the basking spot, in turn causing it to grow in a more dry climate.
    In captivity we feed them an abundance of food, just like they would get during wet season in the wild. So we basically are giving them a wet season diet year round. Directly under that MVB you are offering a dry season climate. If that tort is spending hours upon hours under that MVB it' is getting a wet season diet with a dry season climate. My guess is because it was an open enclosure then the dominant tort got the nice warm spot under the MVB.
    Assuming the other minor pyramided guy got limited time under the MVB then it got a diet and season that go more hand in hand than the pyramided one got.
  7. Alaskamike

    Alaskamike Well-Known Member

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    I have thought very much the same thing as @Anyfoot Can’t remember who the poster was , but believe it was in Leopard section on South African group. 4 or 5 babies raised from same clutch. And same environment yet within a year we’re all different sizes , as well as some shell variations.

    Have seen more than one post with clutch mates where one was showing noticeable pyramiding and the other not.

    We know siblings are genetically similar but not identical. And with torts , even in a clutch can have more than one male parent since torts hold perm viable for so long

    So genetics cannot be ruled out.
    But I am fairly convinced in the nature / nurture debate over pyramiding the behavior of the individual tort has primacy after proper temps & humidity - hydration.

    @Anyfoot was spot on
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  8. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    Couple of thoughts.

    1- an open enclosure is very difficult to keep at a 80-90% ambient humidity even with a damp substrate. Keeping it at 80-90% is factor numero uno to avoid pyramiding with these guys.

    2- The amount of food AND what that food is can be an associated factor. These guys eat a 55% fruit diet year round in the wild and fruit virtually devoid of protein, unlike greens and commercial food. At this age, bugs, carrion, and mammal feces are their protein sources.

    3- Genetics can be a part of the results

    4- MVB bulbs are really bad for these guys as they concentrate too much UVB/UVA on the tortoise. They live in a dense jungle with muted to highly filtered sunlight and don't go anywhere near direct sunlight in open Savannah areas until they are at least 6-7 inches long.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  9. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    Of the dozens of hatchlings I've had (and never sold one before it was a year old) all have been flawless. After that I can't control what happens, but 80-90 degrees, 80-90% humidity and a 55% fruit, 40% greens, 5% animal protein diet works like a charm.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  10. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    The hardest thing for people to wrap their head around is all tortoises of every species spend 75-80% of their life in 70-90% humidity areas.

    I started with Berlandiers (the Texas Tort) back in 1971 and from nothing but watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and the Wonderful World of Disney that they, the Gopher tort, and the California Desert tort live in burrows. Now, Gophers live in areas of high ambient humidity, but they and the others still live in burrows and a burrow 4-6 feet deep even is southernmost Texas or outbound Las Vegas is going to have a humidity of 70-80%. And that's where these animals spend 20 out of 24 hours a day their entire life.

    Sulcatta's and Russian's do the same in the wild (dig deep burrows) due to the extreme environments they live in year round.

    All tortoises need to have a place they can spend 18-24 hours a day where the humidity is at least 60-70%.

    Setting up a indoor or outdoor enclosure with an area or hide where the humidity never gets or stays above 60-70% is going to result in pyramiding, plain and simple.

    Forest tortoises like Redfoot's/Yellowfoot's/ Forest Hingeback's, etc. are the extreme examples because they spend 24 out 24 hours a day their entire life in 70-90% humidity.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  11. Big Charlie

    Big Charlie Well-Known Member

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    That's one of the reasons I was so happy when Charlie had a burrow. He hasn't had one for the last two years and that distresses me. I feel that, at least in the summer, it was healthier for him.
  12. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I'm back for a discussion with diet versus pyramiding :rolleyes:, and need your opinions please.
    I've mentioned it before, every single redfoot tortoise I've raised is perfectly smooth up to 6 months old. Then things change when they start hardening off.
    I've tried so many combinations with my herd of 43 babies. I have babies up to 15 months old now within this herd. I've not incubated an egg for 6 months because I need a plan for the next batch, can't have a plan until I've cleared up a few thoughts.
    The various variables have done are, don't feed protein until 6 months, 3 months, and from day one. Soak everyday. Soak every 3rd day. Feed same foods every day so each gets the exact same diet. Feed only weeds, no groceries for a supposedly more natural diet.
    I even had 3 babies with no uvb for first 3 months. I inadvertently had the sun come through the window creating a basking spot for 11 of them which really peed me off.
    Some grow fast and some grow slow. The carapace and plastrons hardening off is relevant to age not size, this may well be only relevant to my herd only and how I raise them, but the hardening process becomes obvious at around 6 months when things change.

    Only in the last 4 wks did I start dusting food with nutrobal. I've never supplemented with vitamins and always offered cuttlebone 24/7. Recently I discovered my uvb tube was giving a lower reading than advised. This was rectified about a week ago. All are sprayed every day and my humidity never drops below 80% it's more like 90/100% at tort level 24/7.
    All these variables that I have, believe it or not I'm tracking. Remember every tort is smooth up until about 6 months old.
    2 photos.
    #1 is 5.5months old and #2 is 7.5 months old. You can see that #1 is perfect, this one has been soaked every 3rd day. It's perfect. #2 has been soaked ever day but you can see it's changing, still looks good but it's changing, it's not perfect anymore. I'm seeing the same pattern throughout my herd no matter what.
    Today was the first time I've reverted back to feed them everything mixed in all at one in small cut up pieces and I'm obviously dusting with nutrobal now. I'm also going to start with vitamin supplements.
    Think I'm going to incubate the next clutch and feed everything with nutrobal and vitamin supplements, split them into two groups and soak daily with one, every 3rd day with the other. Keep everything else the same.

    Where does all this come in scientifically.
    If we need to make sure that bone dictates growth direction and not the keratin we need to keep the 2 in balance regarding how supple they are.

    If I soak, spray and have 100% humidity but don't feed vitamins I'm making sure keratin is supple but I'm not making the bone structure strong, so the bone structure may still be slightly dictated by keratin in bone growth direction.

    If I DON'T soak, spray, have 100% humidity and feed plenty of vitamins then bone structure is super strong but it counts for nothing because keratin is dry and keratin still dictates bone growth direction.

    If I soak daily, spray and have 100% humidity and feed plenty of vitamins then I'm keeping keratin supple and bone structure strong. In theory bone dictates its natural growth path.
    However by soaking daily am I not allowing the bone structure to dry out a bit, if bone keeps supple through excess soaking then I'm back to keratin dictating bone growth direction. This is where a soak of every 3rd day comes in.

    All this one way or the other suggests that redfoots hatch with enough vitamins to last up to around 6 months old, because no matter what I do they are smooth at around 6 months.
    Bearing in mind I keep them all well hydrated.
    What I mean is if you raised one dry from day one then I would probably see pyramiding before the 6 month period.

    One last thought. Yes it seems obvious to feed vitaminsbfor strong bones, I've relied on fruit, UVB, cuttlebone and natural weeds for that.
    A couple of sprinkles a week of powder? Is that really enough, What about Daily. Seemed alien to me at first. But just think about bone to keratin supple ratio. Are we concentrating on keratin too much.
    Does anyone put calcium D3 or vitamins on daily to keep good strong bone structure, and keep them super hydrated?

    @Tom. @Markw84 As always input please.
  13. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    #1 is 5.5 months.
    #2 is 7.5 months.
    IMG_1995.JPG IMG_1996.JPG
  14. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    My 2 cents, FWIW.

    Off all the ones I've hatched over the last 7 years I've seen this happen twice.

    Until the last 2017's I never gave mine any "supplementation" until 6 months old, nor animal protein.

    With this last batch I've decide to do what I've done for my Russian's and supplement with 50/50 Herpvite-RepCal with D3 and Bene Bac once a month, just to see if anything different happens.

    So far the oldest (5 months) looks like all the previous, but time and a larger data set will tell.

    About your diet, I've always fed a 55-60% fruit (papaya, mango, fresh fig, pineapple, occasional berry) 40-45% green (cactus, the usual dark leafy greens) and no vegetables of any kind in order to mimic as best as possible their wild diet.

    Something to consider:

    1 cup of dandelion greens is 1.5 grams of protein, collard is 1.1, and turnip 1.6.

    1 cup of papaya pieces is .7.

    The diet I've used for them until they reach 6-9 months old has ~1/2 the protein of an all greens diet.

    Given these guys consume a decent amount carrion, mammal feces, and mushrooms in the wild they do get a higher level of protein than arid species and that protein predominantly animal based vs. plant based, so they get a more complete set of amino acids.

    Finally, its impossible to completely mimic nature and tropical forest torts are the hardest (after 46 years into the mission, IMHO) from a husbandry perspective and why RFs are so susceptible to pyramiding and why the vast majority of captive bred ones look like live hand grenades.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  15. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Ernie.
    Up until the cold set in about 2 months ago, my greens side of the diet was weeds, dandelion, plantains, thistles, nettles, primrose flowers, clovers, bittersweet cress, I was obsessed with never turning to groceries, never fed groceries once until recently, my eleven 15 month olds even got weeds through last mild winter. I know people who only feed groceries, but heavily supplement them and produce good tortoises.
    My recent thoughts have turned to, if they do need a higher vitamin intake for good strong bone growth(higher than we first thought), then how are they getting it in the wild. I can only think they eat dirt.
  16. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    By heavily, I mean daily.
  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    You've drawn a conclusion before your experiment. It is NOT "obvious" that artificial vitamin supplementation is needed for strong bones and pyramiding prevention. Not sure where that is coming from. You are seeing something change at a certain age in your babies, but why have you concluded that it has to do with vitamin supplementation, versus a whole host of other possibilities.

    Given the excellent diet you are offering, I'm willing to bet the your next hatchlings raised with higher levels of vitamin supplementation will do exactly the same thing as previous babies.

    I've seen something similar with sulcatas. I attributed it to imperfect conditions due to covered open topped enclosures. When I switched to closed chambers I got perfect results. Dean did too. I've also seen this sort of shell "imperfection" happen when seasons change and more electric heat is applied. My stars did this. In the heat of summer, the heating elements rarely come on and I shut half the basking lamps off and simultaneously reduce wattage in the remaining basking lamps. I see the least pyramiding during these hotter times of year. I see the most in the winter months, and all things considered, I think its the electric heat that is doing it. With all of the research that @Markw84 has been doing with IR-A in relation to the various heating bulbs and elements we all use, this makes sense.

    We know electric heat is very desiccating. Even in a closed chamber. In your climate, your reliance on electric heat is even more of a factor.
  18. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    What I meant by 'it seems obvious to offer supplements' is that most do offer some sort of supplement, but I offer none( up until recently). So there may be members out there thinking, 'why haven't I offered supplements, it's a no brainer'. But I thought my diet compensated for supplements. Has it though?

    I understand what your saying about indoor electrical heat appliances adding to potential pyramiding. But I only use IR panels, 320w, they heat up to 90deg c +/- 5deg c and the closest one to my babies is about 4ft away. I'm assuming I have totally eradicated the potential of artificial heat regarding pyramiding. I also have a strip uvb light to.
  19. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    @Tom. I just tried to take a photo of my panel and enclosure to show you, but I can't stand far enough back to get a side view. Here is a photo from behind the panel and a drawing from the side. I just measured the panel from the enclosure and it's offset to one side by 33" and measured diagonally 69" away from the enclosure wall.
    Surely I've eradicated the drying process via artificial heat. Except when I let the sun act as a basking spot through the window for my original 11 babies.

    It's an open table but the entire enclosure never drops below 80%.

    IMG_1998.JPG IMG_2002.JPG
  20. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    It sure seems that way to me.
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