How Do Babies Spend Their Time?

Tom

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For over a decade, I've been advocating the "monsoon" style of raising babies. Even for species that are reported to come from drier areas. In multiple side-by-side comparisons with clutch mates, it is overwhelmingly obvious that all babies of all tortoise species benefit from daily soaks, humid hides, and damp substrate that they can dig into. @Markw84 has also been advocating for lots of plant growth and hiding areas to simulate the way wild babies would hide in the undergrowth.

I had the chance to visit the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina last week, and it was super cool. I went primarily to see the Galapagos tortoises, but they also have a radiata yard, Komodo dragons, baboons, king vultures, and many more of my favorites. Its a fantastic zoo. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it.

They had a successful pairing Galapagos tortoise that was producing offspring for several years, until the AZA/SSP people decided to break it up and send the male elsewhere. This being the case, they have a bunch of babies on display of varying ages. What was noteworthy, and the point of this thread, is that in the indoor exhibit, with a bank of warm overhead lighting to simulate the warm sunshine of the great outdoors, ALL of the babies were tucked away trying to find shade and hiding areas. It illustrates the point that babies tend to avoid exposure and being out in the hot mid day sun. Even in a large naturalistic enclosure.

See for your self:
IMG_3299.JPG
IMG_3301.JPG IMG_3302.JPG IMG_3300.JPG
 

Chubbs the tegu

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For over a decade, I've been advocating the "monsoon" style of raising babies. Even for species that are reported to come from drier areas. In multiple side-by-side comparisons with clutch mates, it is overwhelmingly obvious that all babies of all tortoise species benefit from daily soaks, humid hides, and damp substrate that they can dig into. @Markw84 has also been advocating for lots of plant growth and hiding areas to simulate the way wild babies would hide in the undergrowth.

I had the chance to visit the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina last week, and it was super cool. I went primarily to see the Galapagos tortoises, but they also have a radiata yard, Komodo dragons, baboons, king vultures, and many more of my favorites. Its a fantastic zoo. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it.

They had a successful pairing Galapagos tortoise that was producing offspring for several years, until the AZA/SSP people decided to break it up and send the male elsewhere. This being the case, they have a bunch of babies on display of varying ages. What was noteworthy, and the point of this thread, is that in the indoor exhibit, with a bank of warm overhead lighting to simulate the warm sunshine of the great outdoors, ALL of the babies were tucked away trying to find shade and hiding areas. It illustrates the point that babies tend to avoid exposure and being out in the hot mid day sun. Even in a large naturalistic enclosure.

See for your self:
View attachment 321416
View attachment 321418 View attachment 321419 View attachment 321417
Im definitely a ZOO lover and will have to check this one out next time I visit my dad in SC
 

turtlesteve

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I've seen these young galops several times, and always thought it seemed a bit sad that the monsoon never comes in their zoo habitat. I was happy to learn from Tom that they're very well cared for behind the scenes, as I always worried a bit for them given the way their display enclosure is set up.

Steve
 

Yvonne G

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Nice, but it looks awfully dry.
 

BrookeB

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I'm hoping the room is bigger then it looks and really! One small water bowl and not the safer kind.
It does however show the point Tom was making.
I don’t see a water bowl at all!!! The one in the first picture looks like it’s in a different enclosure
 

Tom

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These babies are soaked every day. They spend the day in this enclosure, and then they sleep in a humid tub off exhibit at night.

They feed a high fiber, low protein diet, and they are intentionally growing them slowly to prevent "rapid growth syndrome" which kills so many giants. This is all debatable, but these little guys seemed healthy to me. Time will tell if this feeding regime, or some other, works better, but I can understand their reasoning. Frankly, I don't have enough experience with true giants to know one way or the other. Some day, I hope I will.

These tortoises are truly loved and their keeper looks after them constantly making sure they are cared for as well as humanly possible.
 

wellington

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I would love to here from @ALDABRAMAN if he thinks/knows if there is high numbers of deaths among baby or junior Aldabras?
What is your opinion Greg of the diet? Does it differ from yours?
I use to think zoos were the primo caretakers of animals until I joined this forum years ago and found out from a few of the older members that most of what they do is wrong or of lower/cheap quality.
Luckily times are changing and more of them are upgrading and doing better.
I believe this zoo may be doing better with the diet and soaking as I'm sure Tom probably asked for as much info as possible However if those enclosures are as small as they look with no outside enclosure connected to it, I can't say they have improved enough.
Hopefully those pictures just weren't taken or shared.
Don't mean to dog on your thread Tom. I do love seeing tort pics. Just observing what can be seen and is opposite from what is recommended on the forum.
 

Tom

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I would love to here from @ALDABRAMAN if he thinks/knows if there is high numbers of deaths among baby or junior Aldabras?
What is your opinion Greg of the diet? Does it differ from yours?
I use to think zoos were the primo caretakers of animals until I joined this forum years ago and found out from a few of the older members that most of what they do is wrong or of lower/cheap quality.
Luckily times are changing and more of them are upgrading and doing better.
I believe this zoo may be doing better with the diet and soaking as I'm sure Tom probably asked for as much info as possible However if those enclosures are as small as they look with no outside enclosure connected to it, I can't say they have improved enough.
Hopefully those pictures just weren't taken or shared.
Don't mean to dog on your thread Tom. I do love seeing tort pics. Just observing what can be seen and is opposite from what is recommended on the forum.
I understand completely. Because of who is advising the keeper at this facility and because of my lack of experience raising Galapagos tortoises from hatching to adult, I'm eagerly trying to learn and observe as much as I can. The keeper of these tortoises and I plan to keep in touch over the years and compare notes about growth rates and different care and diet regimes. Time will tell which way is better, and we will get to see the results of one type of care verses another. Because of the immense size and weight of these two giant species, I just don't know if info gleaned from sulcatas, leopards, stars and other smaller species is 100% applicable. I know of keepers who've had problems with giants, and I don't know enough about the details of what went wrong in those cases. Short of extreme malnutrition in conjunction with dehydration, tiny glass tanks, and no UV or D3 supplementation, you just never see these orthopedic problems in any species other than the Galaps and Aldabras.

Everyone should feel free to voice their opinions. That's why I put this in the debatable section. Friendly debate is welcome.
 

ALDABRAMAN

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I would love to here from @ALDABRAMAN
What is your opinion Greg of the diet?

~ I can say without doubt that we have found an all natural diet influences proper growth and development in our hatchlings. We do not feed any commercial diets, supplements or fruit for the first year and have had great success levels @ ALDABRAMAN. IMG_7526.jpg
 

wellington

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~ I can say without doubt that we have found an all natural diet influences proper growth and development in our hatchlings. We do not feed any commercial diets, supplements or fruit for the first year and have had great success levels @ ALDABRAMAN. View attachment 321576
Thanks Greg.
 
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