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Pyramiding – Solving the Mystery

Discussion in 'Advanced Tortoise Topics' started by Markw84, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Pics?
  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Your first paragraph made me chuckle. Some times when new members start arguing with me about stuff, I ask them: "How do you think I know the things I'm telling you?" And hopefully I don't have to point out that while I've done whatever we are talking about lots of times, they have never done it.

    Some people just gotta learn the hard way. I'm guilty of it myself sometimes.
  3. sutra

    sutra New Member

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    Hi
    We are a rookie here, from Portugal. We have a great wheather here all over the year.

    Read all Mark wrote and think that is a great work, investigation and well care.
    We have learned so much with you. Thanks.
    Here everyone's try to sell pyraminded turtles.
    we are not breaders, just have them because we like the way they move....
    If they matte?
    yes, we heard them screaming, but do not intrude.
    It's their life in nature.
    They live outdoors, do the hibernation/estivation outside.
    All of them have chip and cites
    Take care (do not own them, because they are free) of:
    4 hermannis hermannis (1 male and 3 females) with about 30 years each
    4 graecca mora females with 5 years (recently adopted)
    2 marginatas, male and female with 10 years.

    We would like to know if we can join the hermannis with the graeccas in the ground?
    There is no graecca male, so there will be no fighting
    Thank you all for reading this.



    I
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Species should never be mixed. And females fight too sometimes.
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  5. sutra

    sutra New Member

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    Thank you for your reply
    And a question to Mark:
    After they start pyramiding there's anyway to stop it?
    These little gays 4 legs friends animals, give more trouble and care than 10 dogs I have.
    Thk you all
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  6. sutra

    sutra New Member

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  7. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    It is quite dependent upon how long it has been going on. If caught early and with a young tortoise, it is quite easy to get new growth to come in very smooth. What is already pyramided will remain that way, but new growth can make if less obvious over time. You end up with scutes that are pretty flat with a raised peak in the very center. If it has progressed and the tortoise is 3 years old or more, it is quite hard to reverse the growth pattern - especially in the vertebrals where all the bone is fully ossified. Also, at the vertebrals, the bone beneath is 10 different bones that are covered by the 5 vertebral scutes. So the actual plane of the whole bone becomes tipped. The costals can still start to smooth out new growth quite easily up to about 5-6 years.
  8. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I'd be interested in your thoughts on this theory @domalle
  9. domalle

    domalle Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    @Anyfoot
    Beyond my capabilities on the technical side of the issue but impressed by @Markw84's insight, erudition and effort in the presentation of the argument so eloquently. Humidity is a major factor in raising smooth tortoises but 'old school'. Have raised smooth animals on newspaper bedding (for reasons of hygiene) under suboptimal conditions of humidity. Admittedly this was due to limitations on facilities, not out of any rejection of the beneficial aspects of humidity and hydration on shell formation and development. And the animals were exposed to naturally humid outside summer quarters in a semi-wild state with free graze.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
    Anyfoot likes this.
  10. keepergale

    keepergale Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    So this great thread got me thinking. I think I remember reading much of a tortoises UV absorbson is thru their skin. In any case, I was thinking if the scute edges are the critical area of the carapace development shouldn’t it be safe to topically apply the moisturizing agent of your choosing only there. I don’t know if that should be coconut oil, specialized tortoise shell products or even Vaseline. Any safe semi permanent product would do.
    If I am wrong about UV absorbtion thru the carapace the limited application I am suggesting should not have a negative effect anyway.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  11. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    We don't know for a fact but we don't think UV absorption is through the carapace. If I'm understanding you correctly, Yes only the scute borders where new growth is needs moisturising. I've thought of this for quite some time, but I have shares in a coconut oil factory. :D:D:D
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  12. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Has the old school raised smooth tortoises on newspaper from the egg? To get a 12 or even a 6 month old tort and start raising it in a dry environment and for it to grow on smooth would be a false reading. The first 6 or 12 months could have been humid to give it a good start and less of a chance of pyramiding at a later stage even when kept on newspaper in a dry environment.
  13. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    This may just be some random nonsense,but I do think all observations should be thrown in the pot regardless.
    My radiateds carapace do not hold moisture like my redfoots do. If I wet the radiated the water turns to droplets and just runs off, except at the borders where new growth is, this area absorbs the moisture.
    If I do the same with my redfoots their entire carapace absorbs moisture giving them a dull Matt color. However the redfoots will be dry again within the hour. Even with 80% humidity and no drying heat source.
    My radiateds carapace look more glossy and less porous than the redfoots.
    It may well be because I've maintained moisture from the egg on the redfoots and created a more porous surface than what the breeder did with my radiated. IDK.
  14. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Something else I thought about in the past is why do some tortoises have scutes pulled together. Is it where an intense heat supply has dried out one side of the scute more than the other. So 2 scutes that have pulled together have been kept dryer where they meet. In effect the adjacent scute sides are more pyramiding than the opposite sides of those 2 scutes.
    This then leads onto the question, could I actually make a tortoise pyramid on only certain scutes I select to pyramid?(not that I ever would want to). If I raised a tort in a dry climate with no basking spots, and coconuted let's say the back 3 vertebral scute borders would I force the rest to pyramid. I would think the answer is NO. So that means the new keratin either tracks moisture very easily or internal moisture is playing a bigger role than we think, or it's all about humidity because that would nearly always be equal over the carapace, and torts with pulled scutes is either a birth defect or incorrect use of heat sources.
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  15. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    UVB penetration is effected greatly by skin color and skin thickness. UVB does not penetrate keratin. Dark colors quickly reduce UVB penetration. A good supply of blood flow to the area is also vital. This process happens in skin cells and, more particularly, the plasma membrane of skin cells. There is a different cellular structure at the scute seams. So the only real areas where UVB is utilized for the beginning of D3 synthesis is the thinner skin of the neck, and the underside and upper parts of the legs. These areas normally have much thinner skin and the skin is normally lighter colored there. I don't see how there would be any UVB synthesis going on at the scute seams.
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  16. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I could certainly believe that the way you are raising your redfoot keeps their keratin in the scutes far more hydrosopic. Exposure to drier conditions for times, and aging would cause the keratin to become much harder, and more resistant to any water uptake and also thus protecting the tortoise more from water loss. That could be why the early years are so important on shell development, and why we are seeing young tortoises remain so cryptic and avoid exposure to any drying conditions so well in nature.
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  17. domalle

    domalle Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    @Anyfoot
    The humid summer months and time outside in the semi-wild state with natural sunlight and graze proved adequate for shell development, with our limited samples, despite the drier conditions indoors most of the year. But I am by no means dismissing current ideas on humidity and the physiology of shell development, just leery when it becomes true religion orthodoxy and tips over into the dogmatic and doctrinaire.
    It would be the height of foolishness to espouse raising hatchlings of any kind on newspaper to the novice or typical petkeeper, although ours grew up the most literate of tortoises and did very well in school.
    Petkeepers are feeling pressured now to produce 'perfect' animals with exacting requirements blared out on the forum and parroted by the newly initiated.
    We all make mistakes along the way. There is room for error. It is by these sometimes painful learning experiences and errors, not indoctrination, that we become 'experienced' keepers. There are no magic formulae, just decent and reasonable guidelines.
    Anyfoot and ColaCarbonaria like this.
  18. Peggy Sue

    Peggy Sue Member

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    Very informative article Mark! Helped me understand pyramiding, I am very interested in the coconut oil theory can anyone tell me what kind they use and how often? And does it inter fear with the daily soaks? Or is the moisture still absorbed through the shell with the oil on it?
  19. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    What species are you referring to here, and what growth rates did you see during these indoor dry times? Did they do most of their growing in the more humid outdoor conditions?
  20. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The "coconut oil theory" is not widely accepted by many it seems. But i am seeing more and more examples where it seems to have merit in HELPING.

    The issue is keeping new keratin growth, especially in younger, actively growing tortoise, from desiccating and drying too quickly. When the type of keratin that forms tortoise scutes dries out, it becomes very stiff, water resistant and strong. That become a good protective shield for a tortoise. But while the keratin is still forming and thickening at new growth seams, if it dries too quickly, it becomes stiffer and hardens before the seam has fully formed. So we are becoming aware it is important to create an environment for young tortoises where that drying does not occur.

    In nature, growth in wetter times and staying buried or covered in leaf litter and deep in grass clumps does this. Young tortoises are rarely ever seen in the wild and very hard to find. The nest the mother dug and the eggshell protected the keratin developing for the embryo tortoise. Once they hatch, most will stay in the moist nest chamber until rain and moisture from above stimulates them to dig up and emerge. But then, they must find cover immediately. Not only for protection from predators, but to protect their develping shells (and themselves) from drying out. They seem like perfect little fully formed tortoises, but in reality, they are still too fragile for the environment they can find themselves in.

    I believe we are just learning the extent of this. In captivity, we therefore need to find ways to help them continue that early development and create environments that allow that to happen. This is not just an effort to grow a "perfect" looking tortoise. That is what we see on the outside. But the drying is doing more than pyramiding the shell. It is also effecting the formation of the organs and functions of the tortoise. So for me, seeing how well their shell is developing gives me insight into how well the entire tortoise is being allowed to develop. Their entire structure and lifestyle has developed to preserve moisture. Until they are more fully formed, they must be much better about protecting themselves. Once their shell, and their organs and metabolism has grown to a more resistant level, they are much better equipped to be "out and about". I think this realization is helping us understand why we see so many baby tortoise simply "fail to thrive".

    We can therefore raise the humidity in their enclosures. This helps keep the tortoise from desiccating. Not just the shell, but the entire tortoise. Same with daily soaking and humid hides or plenty of humid cover.

    SO.. now to your question directly - Coconut oil may indeed help keep a tortoise's shell growing better as it does seem it should keep the new keratin from drying excessively and retain moisture. So in an effort to grow a pretty, perfect looking tortoise, it may have great added value. However, we must still be sure the inside of the tortoise is not drying excessively. So this could be a misleading "solution" if it ever is seen as a substitute for humidity. I don't want to just grow a nice looking tortoise. I want the whole tortoise allowed to grow properly during those early growing years. Coconut oil applied once or twice a week as a moisturizing agent for the shell would not interfere with and certainly should not replace the bath. Moisture is not absorbed through the shell. We are trying to keep the new growth seams from drying out and losing moisture. But we are also trying to allow the tortoise to drink and soak and absorb water through skin contact in the bath. The same with humidity in the enclosure. The shell, the skin, the eyes, the insides of the lungs as it breathes - everything needs moisture. Not just the shell.

    My interest in pyramiding is not to grow a perfect looking tortoise. My interest in pyramiding is because the way the shell grows is our visible sign we can take note of on how the ENTIRE tortoise is growing - inside and out.
    Salspi, TechnoCheese, Tom and 4 others like this.
Similar Threads: Pyramiding Solving
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Advanced Tortoise Topics Pyramiding can it be cured? Aug 16, 2018
Advanced Tortoise Topics Is he pyramiding? Feb 3, 2018
Advanced Tortoise Topics Does diet contribute to pyramiding. Apr 6, 2017
Advanced Tortoise Topics The CAUSE of Pyramiding Jul 6, 2016
Advanced Tortoise Topics Pyramiding is due to excess Heat, not lack of Humidity? Mar 9, 2016

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