Experiment #3, 2011

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Terry Allan Hall

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Tom said:
Last year I did sulcatas, both types of leopards and CDTs. All went extremely well. All of these are so-called "desert" species and all seem to suffer greatly from being kept too dry as babies. NONE of these "desert" species did anything but thrive under humid and well hydrated conditions.

This years experiments are all sulcatas that I hatched myself. I have too many and too much going on to branch out into a bunch of other species right now, but I would love it if some other people would do it with their hatchlings and start a thread showing their results. I don't want anyone to think that I, or anyone else, would be the least bit offended by someone else doing something similar. Just the opposite. I'm doing all this to advance tortoise keeping knowledge. If more people do it with me, knowledge will advance even further.

After reading about this idea, I think that, once my Hermann's are reproducing and I get some hatchlings, I'm going to try this, myself. Might even buy a few hatchlings before my breeding program kicks off and see how well it works.

Keep us updated on your experiment, Tom...Mad Scientists contribute, too! :p
 

Nay

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I just LOVE the passion! When someone reaches down deep to do something they feel strongly about to put the time and effort and expense in, it just is so neat. I wish I could get my son to read some of this, he's 15 and only looking for the easy way out of things, nothing that requires an effort is even considered, oh yeah did I say he's 15??Duh..
But anyway, Kudos for you Tom, to not only do all this for your self and the torts but to take the time to show us..
Thanks
Nay
 

Neal

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Tom said:
Well jeez louise Neal. You do all sorts of neat stuff and I really think you figure out some good things. How come you don't wanna post it more? I wish you would. I know I have benefited from things you have shared in the past, and I'm certain I would learn a lot more if you posted it.

What results have you observed so far? If I'm just spinning my wheels in the wrong direction on an experiment that has already been done, I may as well just quit early. Love to hear your thoughts on it.




Several reasons. Mostly time. Between studying for the CPA exam and working 50 hours a week, I just can't do much more than a few quick comments during the week, and maybe a new thread on the weekend. Other reasons I don't expect people to understand so I'll just leave it at that. I can see why you post about everything you do, and there certainly isn't anything wrong with that, I just approach it differently I guess.

As mentioned at the start of my hatchlings a few months back, I wanted to try your swampy method and being in AZ it was a lot of work to keep the substrate moist all the time. Being the busy / lazy person I am with some things, I didn't want to have to dump a bunch of water in my hatchling enclosures every day to keep the humidity up. So I threw some plaxiglass over the tub, with holes cut out for the che and mvb. Both the che and mvb are set up at a height where the temps are maintained at consistent levels throughout the enclosure. It's basically an incubator, just very crude as mentioned.

As far as results I have seen, nothing different than what I see with my tortoises that are being kept dry (but well hydrated mind you). Actually, my first tortoise has some slight pyramiding, but nothing bad at all. This one was kept in this set up since day 1.
 

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Tortoise-Luke said:
Tom i've talked to you on pm before so you know i'm a fan, but i dont really agree on this one because you're going against "nature's" way. I think they should have a choice in temperatures, maybe have some kind of doggy door to a cooler spot somewhere else. Not saying you should'nt try it I just dont prefer it, they are cold blooded for a reason and should be able to cool down even during the day.
Didn't want to bash on your experiment just think it's not the best direction, hope you don't take it the wrong way, just a thought.

Heck, some of us make it a habit to disagree with Tom on a regular basis, it helps him and us think :)

As Tom knows, I'm keen on this one. I've suspected basking lamps to be very damaging for a long time. He's beaten me to the punch, my hatchlings won't be out for a couple more months.

In discussions with a "prominent" keeper 86 degrees came up as the perfect temp. Keep a tortoise at 86 with no basking or gradient and they'll be "fine". Even he likes to give them a gradient when practical however. It basically comes down to ideal and adequate, etc. All they really need is 86, but the gradient gives the tort the tools to compensate for their keepers inadequacies.
 

Tom

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Balboa, right again on all counts!

What species are you talking about when you say 86 is the perfect temp? I chose 92 rather arbitrarily. I picked that temp based on observations of my tort babies over the last several years and based on several other people's opinions.

I'd love it if you still carried on with your own experiments when your hatchlings arrive. Whether we get the same or different results, much will be learned by all.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Balboa said:
Tortoise-Luke said:
Tom i've talked to you on pm before so you know i'm a fan, but i dont really agree on this one because you're going against "nature's" way. I think they should have a choice in temperatures, maybe have some kind of doggy door to a cooler spot somewhere else. Not saying you should'nt try it I just dont prefer it, they are cold blooded for a reason and should be able to cool down even during the day.
Didn't want to bash on your experiment just think it's not the best direction, hope you don't take it the wrong way, just a thought.

Heck, some of us make it a habit to disagree with Tom on a regular basis, it helps him and us think :)

As Tom knows, I'm keen on this one. I've suspected basking lamps to be very damaging for a long time. He's beaten me to the punch, my hatchlings won't be out for a couple more months.

In discussions with a "prominent" keeper 86 degrees came up as the perfect temp. Keep a tortoise at 86 with no basking or gradient and they'll be "fine". Even he likes to give them a gradient when practical however. It basically comes down to ideal and adequate, etc. All they really need is 86, but the gradient gives the tort the tools to compensate for their keepers inadequacies.

I think that Bob basking to close to a 250 watt basking lamp with no humidity is what damaged his carapace the way it is now...So I totally agree with you...
 

Sky2Mina

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I wish more people would publish their experiments (with different species). It is very interesting to watch - no matter what the outcome will be.

Hope to see some pictures soon, Tom. :D
 

Balboa

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In the opinion of the keeper I refer to, 86 is a universal temp for not only all torts, but all reptiles. I'm sure there are some exceptions out there, but it makes sense that nature has some rules it follows. In the case of reptiles, for all their differences of appearance, internal biology still has some restraints set by bio-chemistry or whatever.

92 is not so far off I'd worry. With the day to night variation it makes sense. Go a little warmer than is maybe "required" during active times, let them cool off a bit to rest. My only concern with the arbitrary single "perfect" temp was it leaves no way for the tort to "run a fever", so I guess going warmer may be helpful.
 

Tom

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All is going very well. They are steadily growing and still perfectly smooth. I'm already seeing something interesting. Last year, and in both of this year other experiments, there is alway one of the trio that just seems to sprout and put on size and weight faster than the other two. Last year and this year it tends to be the ones that hide in the humid hide box a lot. It seems when given a choice some of them will choose to do some thing that makes them grow more. These three have no choice. There is no basking spot or any place to get warmer or cooler. All three of them are growing at exactly the same rate. They've never been more than a gram or two apart, and that just seems to depend on whose eaten more or pooped recently as it rotates through all three of them which one is the gram or two heavier at each weigh in. Minutes before this pic, I weighed them at 48, 48, and 49 gams.


s5kcg3.jpg
 

terryo

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Sky2Mina said:
I wish more people would publish their experiments (with different species). It is very interesting to watch - no matter what the outcome will be.

Hope to see some pictures soon, Tom. :D

I only lurk on these threads as I have no Sulcata's, but I do read every one as I find them so interesting. I also would love seeing something similar with different species.
Thank you for all your hard work Tom.
 

Terry Allan Hall

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terryo said:
Sky2Mina said:
I wish more people would publish their experiments (with different species). It is very interesting to watch - no matter what the outcome will be.

Hope to see some pictures soon, Tom. :D

I only lurk on these threads as I have no Sulcata's, but I do read every one as I find them so interesting. I also would love seeing something similar with different species.
Thank you for all your hard work Tom.

I'm thinking that much of what Tom, Balboa, Ascott and others are learning will apply to most tortoises and terrestrial turtles (box, wood, etc.)...

As soon as I have some hatchling Hermann's tortoises, I'm going to set up a similar enclosure for a few tort-lets, myself.
 

Tom

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Thanks to everybody. Terry O and Terry A, I appreciate the kind words and I hope all this helps somebody somewhere. It has always been a hope of mine that these "experiments" will inspire others to try different things with different species too. So hearing your plans for the future is like hitting a home run for me, TAH. Even more so because I hope to have a herd of Hermannn's in the not too distant future. It would be my honor to include some of your experimental test subjects as part of my herd when the time comes and your "experiments" are done.
 

terryo

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I don't want to hijack your thread Tom, so I'll make another one showing Pio and Solo who had different care growin up so far for any one who's interested.
 

Yvonne G

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I wish that Kelly (in the U.K.) would share with us how she raises her smooth Mediterranean tortoises too.

Its different in other climates, and with other types of tortoise. We all can learn from each other.
 

Sky2Mina

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Terry Allan Hall said:
As soon as I have some hatchling Hermann's tortoises, I'm going to set up a similar enclosure for a few tort-lets, myself.

Terry, I would love to see a thread (with pics :D) about how exactly you are going to keep them.
 

Terry Allan Hall

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Tom said:
Thanks to everybody. Terry O and Terry A, I appreciate the kind words and I hope all this helps somebody somewhere. It has always been a hope of mine that these "experiments" will inspire others to try different things with different species too. So hearing your plans for the future is like hitting a home run for me, TAH. Even more so because I hope to have a herd of Hermannn's in the not too distant future. It would be my honor to include some of your experimental test subjects as part of my herd when the time comes and your "experiments" are done.

As soon as I have some, we'll negotiate...maybe by then my wife'll get over her fear of lizards, and I can get a monitor! :cool:
 

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First, go back and read the second to last paragraph, second sentence, of post number 1 on this thread.

I AM seeing the slightest hint of a problem and so I'm immediately scrapping this experiment. For the last couple of days these three babies just seem a little less active and their appetite is suddenly down. I see no reason for the change, but I'm not risking it. Everything has been going perfectly up to this point. They eat great and have been growing steadily and smoothly. Their weights have gone from 40 at the start of this experiment to around 60 right now. This is right on par with all of my other hatchlings.

I'm a bit surprised and disappointed by this. It was working perfectly for the last 7 weeks and nothing has changed, so its a bit frustrating. I know that some people maintain other species in similar ways long term and it works great for them. Maybe its just not a suitable method for sulcatas.

These three babies perked up out in the sun today and now they are back in a "conventional" set up. They seem to be perfectly fine now, but I am not willing to risk it. Hmm, now that I think about it these babies seemed to be favoring sitting in the sun a lot lately, even on hot days, when all the other babies hid out in the shade in their respective sunning enclosures. All the sunning enclosures are side by side and subject to the same conditions, but I almost always found these guys sitting in direct sunlight, right next to the shade. Maybe 92 just isn't warm enough for long term health on sulcatas. They seemed to be craving more warmth than my other 15 hatchlings whenever they were outside.

All of this year's other experiments are still going great.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Experiment # 4...I am sorry you felt the need to stop what you are doing. What I mean is I am sorry you have to stop. But there's been a wide variance from the beginning...My 3 babies all weigh over 80 grams as of a few minutes ago, and you say yours are 60 grams. Big difference. Anyhow, I know how disappointed you are but I am proud of you for being the good keeper you are and stopping before things get really bad...
 

Tom

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That pace of growth is totally normal for all of my babies. They have all been right around the same at any given age this year. Last years babies were growing at about the same rate too.

#5 and #6? Care to chime in? What are your weights?

Thanks Maggie...
 
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