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Leopard tortoise weight/growth rate

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by Sticky Feets, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. Sticky Feets

    Sticky Feets Member

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    hi there,

    I've had Hoppy (leopard tortoise) for about a month and a half now and it seems like he's only gained about 3 grams. 45 the day I got him and has been varying between 46-48. I try to weigh him after he poops cuz one night he was up to 52 and I got really excited. But then he pooped out 7 grams... He eats adequately I think...doesn't eat all day like I would assume tortoises do, but he makes massive poops every day or every other day. And I've seen his growth lines between his scutes changing colors so he must be growing.

    The breeder I got him from told me his clutch was missed and was found hatching from the ground on august 12 so that makes Hop just under 5 and a half months old. I don't think the breeder had him in a closed chamber from the pictures that he showed me (open air tub) and the fact that he's a bit pyramided. I quickly switched him over to a closed chamber about a week after I got him. Temps at 80-82 and humidity 91-99. I soak him everyday and even sprinkle water onto his food to hydrate him more. I've only seen him drink once during a soak but his water dish gets tracked with dirt every day so hopefully he's drinking when I'm not watching. Hop isn't super active...he usually just hangs around the basking side of his tub and never goes to the other/darker side even though that's where the CHE is. He spends a lot of his time burrowed under some dead grass roots. But he comes out on his own when the lights come on in the mornings and depending on what food is out he may be eating more or less (tends to eat more if there's cactus...). I read that leopards are one of the slower growing species so maybe he just needs more time to gain weight? Here's some pics of when I first got him to his most recent pic so you can see his growth lines are thickening. I read in another post that it could also be parasites too so I wouldn't mind running a fecal on him, especially since he hatched underground and probably ate his moms poop.

    IMG_4279.JPG IMG_4527.JPG
    I'm seeing new growth by the bottom of his side scutes where the black is more prominent. Also he had a bit more white coming in vertically between the scutes.
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  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    As long as there is no loss he should be doing fine. Be sure to have food available all day long. I have 4 hatchlings born November. They eat about 4-6 times a day and sleep most of the rest of the time. About the only wondering they do is while they are headed to the food or headed back to sleep spot.
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  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    46-48 is on the low side for that age. What is more concerning is that there isn't any growth happening, according to the scale.

    If this tortoise has damaged kidneys from an overly dry start in an open topped tub and wasn't soaked often enough, it won't matter what you do after that damage was done. You can't undo the damage that was done with your excellent care. All you can do is provide the best care and conditions possible, soak daily, and hope that this is one of the ones that will pull through.

    Running a fecal check is never a bad idea, but administering the wormer, if needed, can be problematic in itself.

    Have you read this one?
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/hatchling-failure-syndrome.23493/
  4. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Just to give you the good and bad of this, here is a recent experience I have:

    I got some leopard hatchlings that I found out were started with a more dry routine. A respected breeder who still felt outside time was better, and too much humidity caused too much respiratory problems. (I found out this after questioning him after two of these would gain no weight). Well I definately subscribe to the 80/80 belief and all my tortoises thrive in these conditions, except these two I got from him.

    When I got them, one was 29.7g and the other 33.8g. After exactly one year, they were still 46g and 55g respectively. 11 months later - after 23 months of nurturing, the second one died at 61g. Never could get any good growth, but was active and eating most all of that time. BUT.... the other started to take off suddenly. After 14 months of nuturing, the little guy still weighed only 47g. But the very next month's weigh in showed 58g! Then the next month 75g. That baby is now just over 28 months in my care and just passed the 500g mark.

    So - no matter what you do and how much you coddle them with the best conditions, some will not pull through, but some can surprise you and suddenly take off after 14 months of struggling to get going.

    Here's the baby the first week I got it:

    IMG_2621.JPG

    Here it is today - FINALLY GROWING AND THRIVING!

    IMG_0143.JPG
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  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    This is very similar to the story of my sulcata Daisy. Hardly any growth for two years and then she sprouted and caught up to "normal" size. She is now over 60 pounds at 10 years old, mean as hell, and regularly produces clutches of more than 30 eggs with high hatch rates.
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  6. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    @Peliroja32 had a baby leopard that wouldn't gain also. Bought from tortoise town I believe. Obviously raised dry at breeders. It passed away after no growth for several months.
    Now she has 3 more from a breeder here (@Will )who raised them hot and humid and they're growing weekly. even the little runt shows constant growth...you should check out her posts...
  7. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    With a similar example to @Markw84 and @Tom
    I took on 10 leopard clutchmates that were started dry. Even at 6-10months old they all weighed in the 40 gram range. Over the course of a year they ate, soaked, pooped but never grew or gained weight. Eventually 9 of them died despite the good care, humid chamber etc. and only 1 survived. The remaining one stayed small for another year or so. Once he was finally over 100grams, I sold him to a gal in Arizona and still keep in touch with her.
    He has been a slow grower even in her care and is still on the small side.

    That's a pretty crappy ratio..1/10 to make it over the internal damage hurdle.

    Anyone already with a dry started leopard, just keep at it and hope for the best.
    But I can't stress enough how important it is to get a well started baby in the first place.
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  8. Sticky Feets

    Sticky Feets Member

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    Yeah I've been worrying about hatchling failure too. I didn't know about closed chambers until after I got him and the breeder told me that he wasn't pyramided...just normal growth. Hop is my first tortoise and despite all the research I did beforehand (apparently I was just reading all the old data on keeping torts in open air enclosures) guess still wasn't enough. Really wished I had found tortoiseforum before I got him. Just there never was any debate on most other sites on how to raise hatchlings. I can only enjoy him while I can and hope for the best. One pro is that he was raised outside in Florida...but still.
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  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Outside all day is not good for babies, even in FL. It makes them grow very slowly. They do better when kept mostly indoors in a closed chamber until they are larger.
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  10. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    We get it.. But hey, you already have him and you're here now. Can't change the past.

    Hopefully now you won't be so worried about the lack of growth. You now know that you are in a waiting game. Dont give up, keep at it and time will tell.
    If he pulls through, great! If not, don't blame yourself. Like many others, you can do it better next time. "Better" meaning buying from the right source

    I know Mark, Tom and I share these examples knowing that far more people can benefit from them than just the OP. Lots of people read these threads and if they read it often enough, maybe it can influence them to consider buying their tortoises from a good source.
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  11. Sticky Feets

    Sticky Feets Member

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    There's slim to no videos on YouTube regarding closed chambers. I think I'm gonna make one educating ppl about them and also about hatchling failure syndrome. Tom since you seem to have done the most research on this new data, mind if I include your name if I happen to mention it? I only have about 200 subscribers but it's steadily growing each week so maybe one day it'll reach some people who are planning to get a tortoise. Been trying to get the attention of another pet youtuber whose channel is bigger than mine but still small enough for him to read comments. He's got a cherry head that's showing reverse pyramiding and his shell just looks super dried out. Ive been shying away from making care videos on my pets cuz there's enough about snakes and geckos but there can definitely be more tortoise care videos on YouTube.
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  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I don't mind if you mention my name, but there are lots of knowledgeable and helpful people here. I think it would be better to just mention our forum and encourage them to come here and learn from all of us.
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  13. Sticky Feets

    Sticky Feets Member

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    DONE. Can't believe I was able to film and edit this all in one afternoon, getting better at making videos. I also added links to all those useful threads in the video description.

    Here's the actual video
  14. Cheryl Hills

    Cheryl Hills Well-Known Member

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  15. Ramsey

    Ramsey Active Member

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    Nice job. Very thorough.
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  16. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    Awesome! I wish I what's a confident on camera... We just need a few more people to do some videos.... The same information coming from unrelated sources gets recognized more.
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  17. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Love the pushy dog!!!
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  18. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Another consideration I have been studying more and more...

    Gut flora and the microbe balance is extremely important to overall health and growth. I just read a few studies this past week where millions of dollars are being spent on analyzing the poop of top level athletes for the microbe balance. The results are simply amazing. Without the right balance, they simply cannot preform at the same level of others. This applies at a very basic level to simple health and growth, not just recovery and performance at peak levels.

    In the wild, young tortoises injest eggshell that is covered by mucous from the mother. Hatchlings also injest poop from the mother as well as being surrounded by dirt in the nest the mother watered down extensively in digging the nest. I believe that does a ton towards beginning to establish the proper gut flora and microbe levels in a hatchling.

    I know @Tom and I put eggshells from the mother in the brooder box for hatchlings to nibble on when first hatched. I also puposely expose some of my hatchlings to the mother's poop in bits. We are helping that gut flora get established.

    I can't help but believe that some of the common problems with "failure to grow" also can come from too sterile an environment for the hatchling that is never exposed to these natural sources of beneficial and needed microbes. Some breeders wash the eggs before placing in the incubator. The hatchlings are then put in a clean new area to start their life. Many are sold and live in a new area by themelves with never any exposure to the possible sources of beneficial microbes needed for even basic organ fuction.

    I believe @zovick is a believer in providiing beneficial bacteria - probiotic for reptiles.

    There may be a great value here we are missing??? Thoughts??
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  19. zovick

    zovick Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mark,

    Yes, I have posted on the TFO a couple of times about my periodic use of Avian/Reptile Bene-Bac which comes in powder and paste forms. As you say, it is a probiotic for reptiles (and birds).

    Regarding the shells from hatched eggs and even from eggs which have failed to hatch (and aren't rotten), I give those to the mothers rather than the babies. I feel the babies are better able to eat and metabolize Ultrafine Rep-Cal, but that is just another take on the "what to do with egg shells" idea.
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  20. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks for your input, Bill. I was referring to the eggshell for the hatchling in the context of the microbe load it may carry more than for calcium content. But, yes - great way to recycle that calcium!!
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