Experts: Humid vs. Dry

Gennifer11

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When I started out with my tort, he was kept in dry enclosures and ended up with a respiratory infection. I then joined TF and found out how important humidity really is. I changed my setup to an enclosed enclosure and he got better. His new growth shows no signs of pyramiding.

I always try to help others by praising the use of high humidity. But now I am starting to question the advice I give. I joined different facebook groups, and lately members have been talking about how they don't use high humidity. Their torts are gorgeous. I'll attach some screen shots of their torts that they posted.

Please tell me if I am actually giving people good advice or if I am just spewing out hot air.

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Zeko

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You need to take into account:

1) Does the person live in a high humidity environment?
2) Are these tortoises not show some signs of pyramiding? Other than the first one, it looks like they are to some degree.
3) No one has raised a tortoise under the humid conditions all the way into maxed sized age, so we don't know HOW smooth a perfect tortoise will be.

Some of us have had are tortoises under 95% humidity from hatchling. Unfortunately, none of them are OLD yet. I can tell you my tortoises have never got RI's. You need to keep the temperature higher if you are going with high humidity. Bad husbandry leads to RI, not humidity.
 

jeffjeff

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i'm still relatively new to tortoise's so if i'm wrong with any thing i apologize. they give very little info to go off. have they measured the humidity down the burrows? where i believe sully's spend a lot of their time. have these people had them from hatchlings? surely there's alot more to take in to consideration than just humidity for smooth growth. temps,diet, ect this is defiantly a thread for @Tom i believe he has the most experience with raising them in humid conditions. i'm interested to hear the different opinions on this subject with getting a young star soon :).
 

Tom

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Every once in a while one will turn up that looks good and the people claim they raised in in low humidity. In every one of these cases I have found some humidity source or explanation for the smooth growth. One guy had the tortoise on dry substrate, and did nothing to add any humidity. Further questioning revealed that the young tortoise lived in his reptile room that was full of other enclosures with damp substrate or water and he used a swamp cooler (evaporative) to cool the room in summer. Other people keep them outside most of the time in walled, well planted, heavily irrigated back yards that will retain a fair amount of humidity even in a dry climate.

Burrows are another explanation. Look how damp the soil is in the pic of the tortoise eating cactus. That person is asking for impaction feeding that tortoise on that sandy soil, by the way.

Also, humidity is not the only factor. Hydration and shell spraying definitely have an effect. Neal has had some success raising some smooth leopards without a lot of humidity. But he will tell you that the success is intermittent, unpredictable, and only about half the time. Ho does not yet know why they sometimes turn out smooth and sometimes lumpy even though they are clutch mates and in the same enclosure eating the same foods. @Neal please correct me if I'm wrong about any of your info, and please share more of your insight into this issue.

I've also seen a big difference in tortoises raised in places with hot dry rainless summers, like SoCal, vs. places with more monsoonal summers like Phoenix, AZ. Half of Phoenix flooded last year it rained so hard in summer. It does not rain at all where I live in North Los Angeles County in summer.

The bottom line is this: If you take six hatchlings from the same clutch and raise them the way I say to raise them, ALL of them will grow up smooth and healthy. If you take six more hatchlings from that same clutch and raise them in an enclosure right next to the other six tortoises in a closed chamber, but with rabbit pellets for substrate and an open top with once a week soaks, they will all pyramid and some might die months down the road. Raise them somewhere in between those two extremes with any combination of variables, and your results will vary too.

Humid, irrigated backyards, damp burrows, shell spraying, tortoises that drink and soak themselves in puddles daily, people who spray their tortoises or use sprinklers in hot climates to keep their tortoises cool, humid rainy climates... All of these things are likely to increase the chances of raising a smooth sulcata, even though the people feel like they did it with low humidity. For every one of these cases where someone somehow ended up with a nice looking tortoise, I can show you a thousand examples of someone who seemingly did the same thing and got a pyramided one.
 

ascott

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You need to take into account:

1) Does the person live in a high humidity environment?
2) Are these tortoises not show some signs of pyramiding? Other than the first one, it looks like they are to some degree.
3) No one has raised a tortoise under the humid conditions all the way into maxed sized age, so we don't know HOW smooth a perfect tortoise will be.

Some of us have had are tortoises under 95% humidity from hatchling. Unfortunately, none of them are OLD yet. I can tell you my tortoises have never got RI's. You need to keep the temperature higher if you are going with high humidity. Bad husbandry leads to RI, not humidity.


This is not entirely correct..yes, inappropriate husbandry can lead to environment that lends to RI..however, yes, high humidity can and does lead to RI--alone it can be deadly---added warmth to a properly humid environment and that risk decreases....
 

Zeko

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This is not entirely correct..yes, inappropriate husbandry can lead to environment that lends to RI..however, yes, high humidity can and does lead to RI--alone it can be deadly---added warmth to a properly humid environment and that risk decreases....

Not having proper temps would be bad husbandry

With proper temps, 90% or higher humidity is fine, healthy and promotes proper growth.
 

dmmj

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If these tortoises are being raised outdoors, they are being raised in a humid (albeit natural) enviroment.
 

Gennifer11

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Thanks everyone. I'm glad to know I'm not crazy. I'll keep helping people to understand how humidity is important. I am very curious how those torts ended up looking so good. Hmm, especially if they are in AZ or CA.

@Tom are you on facebook? I'm pretty sure these were posted to "sulcata tortoises". I was afraid to confront them because their torts looked very good, last time I looked no one said anything against them.

I can't imagine what CA is going to do now that they are about out of water. A family member called to talk about how she might have to move since she won't be able to shower or use water without being fined. She lives in santa barbara. .. good luck guys
 

Neal

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Also, humidity is not the only factor. Hydration and shell spraying definitely have an effect. Neal has had some success raising some smooth leopards without a lot of humidity. But he will tell you that the success is intermittent, unpredictable, and only about half the time. Ho does not yet know why they sometimes turn out smooth and sometimes lumpy even though they are clutch mates and in the same enclosure eating the same foods. @Neal please correct me if I'm wrong about any of your info, and please share more of your insight into this issue.

The bottom line is this: If you take six hatchlings from the same clutch and raise them the way I say to raise them, ALL of them will grow up smooth and healthy. If you take six more hatchlings from that same clutch and raise them in an enclosure right next to the other six tortoises in a closed chamber, but with rabbit pellets for substrate and an open top with once a week soaks, they will all pyramid and some might die months down the road. Raise them somewhere in between those two extremes with any combination of variables, and your results will vary too.

It is correct mostly, but I don't think I've ever stated that my success has been intermittent, in those terms anyway. I have had tortoises grow not as smooth as others, but it's nowhere even close to the amount of pyramiding as those raised on rabbit pellets or completely without hydration, so I wouldn't say it's not successful. I just have not been able to grow consistently "perfectly smooth" leopard tortoises. I can raise smooth Indian Stars and Sulcatas all day long with low humidity. Even the South African leopards I've raised were all nearly perfect (besides some mild pyramiding before I had received a few of them) without any elevated humidity at all, but I've always had inconsistent results with the normal leopards.

This past year I tried raising them like you do and was not able to produce consistently smooth leopards. About this time last year I built two large, completely enclosed chambers which I used to house all my 2014 hatchlings. Humidity was maintained extremely high, they always had water available and they were soaked at least once a day. Some still showed mild pyramiding while others grew perfectly smooth. Besides my first small handful of hatchlings, this was my first year keeping large numbers in enclosed chambers, of the 100+ hatchlings I had last year I raised nearly 30 to 3" in the enclosed chambers, and off the top of my head I would say somewhere between 10 - 15 showed this mild pyramiding.

I think it is interesting to note that most of my 2014 hatchlings came from my larger female. She has quite a bit of SA characteristics and about half of her babies have a more elongated (hot dog) shape to them and the other half are more traditional babcocki round shape (hamburger). The ones that are more round are normally the ones that are not perfectly smooth.

At this point, my conclusion is that there are some leopard tortoise types will pyramid no matter what, much like most Sri-Lanka stars. I see the same thing with many of TFO specimens. It seems the SA variants of leopards are always much smoother than the other type.

I do hope readers will comprehend my meaning of "mild pyramiding". I don't mean to imply any negativity or that I or anyone else has failed. When I originally stated my results a couple of years ago a few members ran away with the term and started telling others that my husbandry methods don't work as well as others, and I don't want to see that happen again. I know I'm splitting hairs here, but to me there is a big difference between a pyramided tortoise raised completely dry with minimal hydration and the mildly pyramided tortoises that I have raised or were otherwise referenced above. I don't feel self conscious about it and consider my results good, I just hope my observations shared here are equally understood by all readers.
 

Prairie Mom

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This is a really interesting thread @Gennifer11 :) I think it's great that you started this post and opened it up to a friendly discussion like this. I'm very interested in what members have to say on the subject.
 

Gennifer11

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@Neal .This might be a dumb question, what does SA stand for? Would it be logical for me to look for an elongated leopard tort when searching for a baby? In hopes he has less pyramiding?
 

Neal

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SA = South Africa. Leopard tortoises come from a lot of different areas in Africa and leopards seem to have unique characteristics in certain localities. Leopard tortoises that made it to the US are commonly believed to be from either South Africa or East Africa, so when I say SA leopards I am referring to those from groups known to have originated from South Africa. (this topic can go pretty deep so I'll just leave it at that)

I don't know if that's really logical. Only a few others I've had this conversation with have had similar observations, so I would need a lot more data before I could say it's logical. In my observations, the difference in the shell smoothness between the elongated types and the more round types is really not a huge deal to me. I do not believe slight pyramiding in and of itself is a health concern or indicates bad husbandry, so I would be more concerned about following the caresheets on the forum rather than finding a more elongated baby, know what I mean?
 

Prairie Mom

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I checked out the "sulcata tortoises" facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sulcata-Tortoises/146265712212322) It's basically just one girl who made a community facebook page in order to tout her blog about her two sulcatas. It's her view on how to raise a sulcata with lots of photos of her own tortoises. Anyone can make a blog about anything and try to convince the world what they say is true. They may just get lucky enough to have a few people agree with them too. I wouldn't pay much attention to it. I certainly wouldn't click the "like" button and follow this person with no credibility to speak of. Her blog domain page has expired and the post topics look amateur at best.

Now, I'm off to work on my blog about my Alien abduction last month. I'll be sure to post lots of photos and advertise on a homemade Facebook community page... :p
 

ascott

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Not having proper temps would be bad husbandry

With proper temps, 90% or higher humidity is fine, healthy and promotes proper growth.

Proper temps change instantly once too much constant high humidity is applied in an attempt to counter other points of less than desirable husbandry...and additionally, there simply is not enough years and years of proof that supports the second part of your claim....there are other ways to raise healthy tortoise than to force them to live in an entirely unnatural wet environment....
 

HLogic

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Proper temps change instantly once too much constant high humidity is applied <snip>...and additionally, there simply is not enough years and years of proof that supports the second part of your claim....there are other ways to raise healthy tortoise than to force them to live in an entirely unnatural wet environment....

What does, "Proper temps change instantly once too much constant high humidity is applied", specifically?
How many years does it take? Is >10 not enough?
...there are other ways to raise healthy tortoises than to force them to live in an entirely unnaturally dry environment.
 

bouaboua

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Learn and confirmed my practice are correct.
 

Gennifer11

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@Prairie Mom , it's actually this one. There are many facebook pages, this one is the community one that I was referring to
 

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