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Does diet contribute to pyramiding.

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

  1. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    To show you my humidity levels at tortoise level I moved my gauge near where they sleep about half an hour ago. This is absolute worst case scenario, it's the end of the night, so at its driest. Normally I spray at night but Because it's so cold this last week or so my temps are dragged down to 25deg c at night. (Really I should add a 5th panel for extreme cold nights). Because temps are at 25c I won't spray them at night, this only happened for last 2 wks at most. Point is, my humidity is usually in the 90's. Probably 100% under the moss and leaf debris where they dig into the moist coir.
    IMG_2003.JPG
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  2. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    It's doing my head in @Tom. Some grow on smooth and some not so smooth, none are as good as my 4 yr olds which I fed anything and everything at some stage, I also supplemented those 4 in the earlier months.

    Since getting my radiated I've spoke with a whole new community and that's what is making me think about supplements. I'm not saying it's 100% that.
    I'll start incubating again for the next round of experiments :rolleyes:
  3. Ernie Johnson

    Ernie Johnson Member

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    This may be going too deep in the weeds (no pun intended) on the diet front, but feeding a very high percentage of greens would have them ingesting matter with a much higher level of oxalic acid than they would in the wild and it's a strong dicarboxylic acid that occurs in many plants and vegetables, but not in most tropical fruits. Many of the dark leafy greens and yard weeds rate Moderate to High content-wise and Redfoot's wouldn't have developed the same ability to "address" them as arid species.
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  4. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Because I wanted to make sure each and every tort got the exact same type of food I fed only one food type per day.
    So,
    fruit day 1.
    weeds and flowers day 2
    Mushrooms day 3
    Weeds and flowers day 4
    Back to fruit and so on.
    Protein at the moment is once a month since I started seeing some of the older ones stacking. Originally after 6 months old they got protein 3 times a month.

    At the moment I'm hanging on to the hope that the ones that have just reached 6 months old and only had protein once a month carry on growing smooth. TBH I think it's a false hope.

    Maybe I should cut out mushrooms and replace with fruit on what your saying.
  5. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    "Are we concentrating on keratin too much." YES! Cart before horse. I look at fingernails; Keratin growing off finger skeleton. Smash nail and if damage to skeleton nail will never grow right again. Skeleton and not keratin dictates surface appearance. Makes no sense at all other way around. Look at tortoise with shell skeleton damaged by dog. Damaged bone always will grow damaged keratin. Keratin does not smooth out underlying bone. Ever!
    Personal empirical experience is that my young adult with pyramided growth was made better just by addition of 2x4' 40W UVB lights. 3' lower wattage lights still pyramided! Along the way irregular vitamin supp added as chelonian suitable stuff came available. About 2 times a week. (how often would you like to have powder on your food?) Have not raised baby Redfoots for 20 years so have not raised baby under 4' lights yet. Hydration is room ambient with soaks once a week and water drinking dish.
    I am convinced that pervasive concentration of UVA and UVB at reasonably high wattage is the key. Food, humidity, supplementation, sometimes protein should all help foundation and health but growth rings will still be there just hopefully without pyramiding:<3:.
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  6. Marianna

    Marianna Member

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    Just 2 questions from a naive woman living in Crete.
    Why do my fingernails grow twice as fast in summer when UV index is 9 while I never sunbath?
    Why do my marginated tortoises show growth in this period? They don't expose themselves to direct sunlight either in these months.....
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  7. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Personally NO idea about why nails might grow faster. Maybe like trees you grow faster in nice weather;). As long as your tortoise is eating he can be growing unless taking a growth rest period. You might be surprised how much UVA and UVB they get while you're not looking. I can't help but wonder if they get reflected radiation even if the VISIBLE light isn't reflected onto them.
  8. Marianna

    Marianna Member

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    My question/remark was merely to agree with you on the UV concentration. I think high UV makes both my tortoises and my fingernails grow faster.
    My torts grow most in the hottest months so that must be some kind of proof....About UV reflected radiation: even when I sit outside too long under umbrella or tree, I will eventually get sun burns. For the same reason my tortoises don't bask then. Only in spring and autumn when the UV gets down to 5 or 6
  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    There is a problem with your UV theory, and your above assertion highlights this.

    We are talking about ectotherms. Of course they will grow more in warmer temperatures. How do you know they are not growing more because of the heat and it has nothing to do with the UV. I can guarantee that if you keep them cool, but under strong HO UV bulbs, they will still grow slowly, if at all.

    I can't answer your question about your own fingernails. Because that does not happen to me, I would guess that it is something dietary, or some other factor(s). I just had to clip my toenails yesterday because they had a winter growth spurt. My nails grow at a similar rate year round and I think my climate and UV levels are pretty similar to yours. Do you eat or drink more of something in the summer? Or less of something?

    I liked your questions, so please don't take offense. I think it is good to propose new ideas and theories. I do this regularly. Then I shoot them down, or other people do, and eventually we arrive at new conclusions. Please don't hesitate to ask more questions or propose new ideas and theories. This is all part of the process of figuring out this great tortoise mystery.
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  10. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Craig:

    I do not follow your issues with the possible bone health/pliability/hardening concerns. I cannot think of any way the bone contributes to pyramiding. It reacts to pyramiding. There is never the slightest bit of a pyramiding effect that would relate to bone sutures and the way bone grows. It is totally aligned ONLY to scute growth. For proper bone growth, you need proper Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and D3. I do not see how there is any way your set up and diets could be the least bit deficient.

    How does what you are seeing at 6-8 months look at 18 months? Is there a pronounced "growth ring' created? Or is the scute growth altered to a slight actual pyramiding? I cannot tell from your pictures exactly what you are seeing. I certainly examine scute growth closely as you do. I look for a difference in a ridge or dip that develops vs a change in the direction of subsequent growth. What are you seeing in that regard?
  11. Marianna

    Marianna Member

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    My torts don't need UV bulbs. They live outside in an enormous enclosure. We have 300 sunny days per year :) They hibernate 4 months (also outside) though so miss most of the not sunny days. And of course they live in their natural habitat. I don't know if we have a similar climate. Crete is an island and in the summer very dry and arid. But you are right, it might be something else that not only makes our fingernails but also our hair grow faster. Family and friends that live here or come for holidays from northern Europe notice the same. The heat then? Clean air? No pollution? Olive oil? No idea, but I also notice that the tortoises grow fastest in the summermonths when humidity is very low. No signs of pyramiding whatsoever. And not interested in water at all. Indeed it is a mystery.....thats why they fascinate me!
  12. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Just a thought for reference as I saw this picture. I always have to keep in mind that hygrometers are not meant to be in a condensing environment. In our high humidity, high temperature enclosures, condensation will form inside the sensor and start distorting the reading substantially. They will invariably start reading higher than actual when that occurs. I regularly cycle mine in and out of the enclosures to be sure the sensors have a chance to dry out regularly and there is not moisture left trapped inside.
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  13. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Mark.

    Below in fig 1 shows the underlying bone with scutes that have no new growth. Bone sutures never line up with new keratin growth. Bone growth comes from bone sutures.

    Fig 2 shows the bone plate has grown from the sutures and created crevices between scutes ready for new keratin growth.

    View A(example 1) shows the new keratin growth coming in perfectly level. We are assuming because we've kept the new keratin moist and supple, the bone that bridges the underside of the crevice can grow in the correct plane because it's harder than the supple keratin. The soft supple bone is dictating growth direction over the soft supple keratin, which is in the perfect growth plane.

    View A(example 2) shows the new keratin growth starting to tip and create the very first signs of pyramiding. We are assuming because we've kept the new keratin too dry and hard it is tipping the soft supple bone down, the hard new keratin is dictating the bone growth direction.
    What if in View A(example 2) we have kept the new keratin moist and supple but still get the bone tipping.)if it's even possible) One theoretical way is that the underlying bone of that crevice is extra super supple through bad diet and the soft supple keratin is still dictating bone growth direction, it's tipping it. We are bordering on MBD.

    Looking at this regarding my torts, they are all smooth up to around 6 months old. Then changes happen. What if they hatch out with a storage of vitamins(not just calcium and D3) that lasts a certain amount of time(6 months).
    This would point to my diet being poor in vitamins.
    I'm aware that I may still be seeing dramatic bone growth development, but I'm not so sure. I have a few that look bad IMO.

    One last thing. If the bone grows from sutures, that means that new bone growth can never be dictated by new keratin once the bone is fully ossified because the bone underlying the new crevices will always be ossified(hard). So this means all this only applies when the hatchlings bones are still soft. I don't believe ossification is related to growth, it's related to time.

    Do you think it's possible that a hatchling in the wild could dig into moist soil for 4 to 6 months and whilst hidden the bones ossificate and then the torts grow on?

    IMG_2005.JPG
  14. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Good point.
  15. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

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    Ossified bone may seem hard to the touch, but bone tissue is very flexible and degrades and rebuilds itself at all times, even light (but constant!) pressure will deform it.
    That's why pyramiding can also occur in smooth adult tortoises (without MBD) if their setup is changed to very dry conditions.
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  16. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I didn't know this, but you would think a bone that is ossified is stronger than a bone that is not.
  17. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

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    To be honest, I don't know.
    But I think cartilage bends easily but will more likely return to it's original shape. Bone tissue deforms very slowly but the changes are permanent.

    You said your babies are growing perfectly smooth for a few months, so doesn't that mean the problems are starting because of ossification?
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  18. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the ugly Grenade look kicks in at same time the plastron starts to harden off.
    I know maybe I should sit back and just see how they develop. But I'm worried about it just getting worse and worse. So I wanted people's opinions on how they are now and to rule in or out any elaborate theories I've managed to think up :D.
  19. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    This photo is from last week.
    The 3 in a row at the back and the 3 at the front are about 15months old from a clutch of 9.

    IMG_2007.jpg
  20. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Craig. Your beginning statement is incorrect. Bones do not grow like scutes - from the seams (sutures) Bone grows very differently than a scute grows. Bones grow and ossify over the entire area of the bone. It is an ongoing process that takes years. There are two different things going on as well. The filling in of fontanelles that are quite wide that separate the lower half of the ribs in a young tortoise. That can take 3-6 years to fully fill in those gaps. There is also the ossification that is occurring in all bone that is enlarging and strengthening the bones. There are no fontanelles in most areas of the rest of the carapace. But the bones must grow in both thickness and length as the body grows. It also changes as bone replaces cartilage in very young bone. There is an ongoing formation of new and dissolving of old as the tiny pockets of bone form and develop new osteoblasts and blood supply to the developing bone. As long as a tortoise is growing, there is ossification going on throughout the bones.

    As @WithLisa points out, bone is pliable and can be deformed by pressure. Because of the ongoing formation of cells the bone will distort to new growth patterns with an amazingly slight, but consistent pressure. IN fact it is that ossification process that makes the pyramiding caused by the scutes permanent - as the bone has grown in a new direction. You can often see the growth rings of a tortoise that will be imprinted into the underlying bone.

    Scutes are different. As we've discussed on many occasions, tortoise scutes, unlike aquatic turtle scutes, grow and add new keratin almost totally at the seams alone. New keratin is very susceptible to hydration issues. In most of nature, new keratin is almost always formed protected from exposure. Our fingernail cuticle, hair follicles beneath the skin, the soft tissue around the base of new horns, the sheath of a new feather, etc. But tortoises have no protective covering over newly exposed keratin. When keratin hardens, it stiffens and becomes a protective layer that does not grow further as those cells are no longer growing.

    I am convinced that pyramiding is only a scute thing, not a bone thing. We do see that excessive pyramiding is being caused by the new keratin at the seam drying too quickly and forcing too much filling in of that new keratin to be downward instead of out.

    But slight pyramiding I can theorize to be three other contributing mechanisms.

    First - genetic. Just as some of us have thicker fingernails, or ones that tend to curl more, thicker hair, etc, etc. It may be that some tortoises have a thicker keratin structure to their scutes. The scute is amazingly thin for its strength. A bit more thickness may indeed cause a more resistant or more prone nature to pyramiding??

    Second - behavioral. The way an individual tortoise chooses to stay hidden/covered, or bask more, or is more active - could certainly lead to a different way the new keratin is drying between individuals.

    Third (in looking at your tortoises) - MAYBE the keratin is never being allowed to dry at all! Newer keratin absorbs moisture and swells. Dried keratin becomes more inert and stiff. MAYBE if the keratin of a young tortoise is never allowed to dry, it continues to have the ability to absorb some moisture and swell slightly. This swelling of the top layer that normally would be dry and stiff could cause a slight curling downward???? I know in aquatic turtles if hatchlings are growing where they bask and dry out excessively it will cause the edges of the shell to curl upwards. With an aquatic, new kerating is being laid down along the entire underside of a scute - so the entire underside is new keratin and the excessively dry top will stiffen prematurely. MAYBE a tortoise that never has time where the keratin dries is actually allowing the keratin to remain too hydroscopic. MAYBE that is why those of us who have created very efficient chambers and enclosures for maintaining constant humidity are never giving the 2, 3, 4 month old keratin to fully dry and solidity????
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