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Pyramiding – Solving the Mystery

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

  1. Peggy Sue

    Peggy Sue Member

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    T
    Thank you for the excellent answer Mark we lost a baby to the failure to thrive, so with our Sheldon I am looking to make sure we raise a healthy tortoise he get a soak in the morning and one in the evening and has the proper humidity
  2. MichaelaW

    MichaelaW Well-Known Member

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    Great points! In reality I believe the goal should be to produce a healthy tortoise using the correct environmental conditions, as opposed to remedying the outward visible appearance using a topical substance like oils.
    Salspi, *debora* and Tom like this.
  3. domalle

    domalle Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    View attachment 232319 View attachment 232320

    The time outside in fresh air and natural sunlight compensated for the drier winter months. Growth was steady and even. Most occurred, or at least was most observed, during winter downtime 'rest' periods.

    Here is a sample specimen, raised here on a majority fruit diet, no supplemental lighting, five month summer outdoors. No daily soaks, spray til they drip culture, or artificial closed chamber.

    Attached Files:

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  4. domalle

    domalle Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    The reclusive nature and cryptic behavior of tortoise babies during their most vulnerable phase has been long recognized. Utilization of humid microclimates by burrowing into soil level litter, grass tussocks and leaf debris as a strategy to avoid predation and dessication has likewise been well documented.

    Not my point that we should not aspire to produce healthy, well-formed animals and provide optimal conditions during early stages of development. Of course we should. Every keeper has an obligation to provide the best care and optimum state of overall health for the animals they steward.

    A well-formed shell is a reliable indicator of good culture and overall health, of which hydration is an integral part.

    Your work and thought on the molecular underpinnings and effect of hydration on shell formation are impressive. But dismissing all other possible contributing factors suggests the matter settled, declares the subject closed, and cuts off further investigation, discussion and dialogue. (If that were even possible, given pyramiding as a topic seems never ending).

    I much admire my friend @Anyfoot for his earnest and methodical search for answers to his many questions. But I do not like to see him driven to distraction in the process and hope he will be able to relax and sit back, enjoy and appreciate his great many successes to date.
    Jay Bagley and ColaCarbonaria like this.
  5. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    @Markw84
    Any idea why redfoots seem to grow off the areola with super smoothness before the obvious growth rings kick in?
    Do sears and sullies grow the same?

    @mtdavis254817 I stole your photo. Hope you don’t mind. He’s a perfect example.
    EBC79CB2-CA97-477A-9DB4-67F4DB158483.jpeg
  6. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    @Anyfoot Craig:

    From my observations, it seems to me that ridges are created by STOPS in growth. When I have nice consistent growth, I then see the smoothest and less defined ridges forming. When I see a bigger ridge formed, I can look back at the records and see a tortoise that went through a slow/no growth period. That can be seasonal, sickness, parasite load, period of higher stress (change in enclosure) etc, etc. When I have rapid, consistent growth, I will see a smooth section of keratin laid down.

    My thinking is that as the bone grows, the keratin fills in the gaps. The keratin growth that has been stimulated continues as it thickens the scute to it's "normal" thickness over a short time. That keratin production is concentrated at the expanding seam, but is also thickening the new keratin behind. When bone growth stops while that is in process, the keratin growth seems to continue as the thickening is still occurring. However, with no new seam expansion, the very edge of that seam, seems to then thicken. When bone growth later continues, there is a ridge left behind. You can even see the results of this process in the underlying bone as these thickened edges also leave corresponding grooves in the bone.

    That first growth period of a hatchling does not have that ridge as it is the stopping of previous growth that seems to create ridges. Whenever I have a hatchling that undergoes a nice consistant growth period from the very start, I see the smooth scute you are showing in the picture above.

    I believe that is why tortoise that live in areas with a "feast or famine" type of climate/environment and have to go through hibernation / aestivation in lean times, yet have times where food is plentiful, are the tortoises we see with the most defined annual ridges.
    Olddog, Salspi, *debora* and 2 others like this.
  7. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    @Markw84

    When a tortoises entire scute lifts off. How does it manage to grow back?
  8. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I don't know. I have only seen this a few times where I saw a progression of growth. Both times, a new layer of bone/epithelial layer/keratin grew back UNDER the exposed bone!! Eventually the old bone dries and breaks away. With just a very small area of injury the keratin grows at the edges and fills in. Interestingly, with aquatic turtles, a new layer of keratin grows back over the exposed bone. Not as pretty as the original scute, but it does form a new scute. But, keep in mind, aquatic turtles keratin grows differently in that it grows under the entire scute as opposed to tortoises where almost all keratin growth is only at growth seams.
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  9. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Do you think that it’s possible for the same species to have different thicknesses of keratin?

    If so could this be playing a role in smoothness variation between a group, even when clutch mates.
    So for example, We keep a group at 80% and all the torts with the thinnest keratin grow smooth and all the torts with thicker keratin grow bumpy because 80% doesn’t quite cut it for thicker keratin. But if we’d had them at 99% all torts may have grown smooth.
  10. itty06

    itty06 New Member

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    Can you cure a leopard tortoise who is 7 months old if it's showing signs of pyramiding?
  11. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    “Cure” is the operative word here. With proper knowledge from this point forward the current pyramiding should become further and further from being able to see.
  12. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I believe I answered your thread about this. You can stop it from getting worse. Yes, a 7 month old can be helped. Raise it in a closed chamber until it's at least 2 years with the high humidity and you will stop it from getting worse. As it ages the pyramiding will start too appear less.
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  13. Salspi

    Salspi Active Member

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    Excellent info Mark... Thank you very much!
  14. T Smart

    T Smart Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Very interesting! Great information here.
  15. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    @Markw84

    Hello Mark.

    The one thing that is puzzling me about this external hydration theory is, Why does soaking having such a good impact?
    When soaking we are not hydrating the carapace, So it’s more like an internal hydration method. I know some breeders that don’t care about humidity, they don’t even have a water dish in the enclosure, but they religiously soak daily and produce smooth tortoises.
  16. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi, Craig. Been a while since we exchanged ideas! Hope things are going well. I follow your radiateds' progress with great interest.

    My belief is that it is the hydroscopic properties of keratin that make soaking a beneficial step in reducing pyramiding. Although the tortoise is not fully immersed, I can't imagine anyone soaking their tortoise where they don't also wet the entire tortoise and clean it a few times during the soak. That would be enough to allow the keratin to absorb enough water molecules to swell a bit and stay more pliable. Drying out that moisture would take more than the simple drying you would see as the shell dries off and appears "dry". I believe it is a more involved process to bake the keratin to where it looses too much moisture and stiffens prematurely. That is where too intense IR could come into play and dry this too quickly. So if we have a daily bath where the keratin can rehydrate, and lighting and heat (and hides) where the tortoise is not "baked" that should make a huge difference. That also goes back to the value of misting the carapace regularly, Which also would make a difference.

    With my sulcatas, I certainly noticed a substantial difference over the years when I would program the sprinklers to wet everything down in their enclosure a few times a day. Combined with ample plant cover to rest beneath, I saw this as the biggest improvement I saw in pyramiding in the years prior to my stumbling upon Tom's pyramiding experiment and humidity.
    Anyfoot likes this.
  17. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    My next question you have just touched on.

    Spraying the carapace.

    If you kept a tort in a dry climate, no soaks and had a basking spot, but sprayed a few times a day, would it help smooth growth.
    I don’t think it would.
    To get our finger nails to go supple in water they have to be submerged for some time. Putting your fingernails in water for 30 seconds does nothing. Soak them for 15mins and they become supple. (I’m assuming water temp plays a role too).
    So there must be a balance between hydration and basking.

    Thoughts.
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  18. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    A few thoughts...

    I think it would help. would it be enough?? Don't know but probably not! - depending upon the lighting/heating/hides provided.

    We are talking about NEW keratin, not fully formed keratin. The hydroscopic properties of the keratin changes dramatically as it matures. Your fingernails are mature keratin. The new keratin is beneath the cuticles and protected! That is part of the issue I saw in my original quandaries. Most all keratin structure in nature develop protected, except tortoises. Hair follicles beneath the skin, fingernails by cuticle, feathers by a protective sheath, horns forming beneath the skin before emerging, etc, etc. All richly hydrated by surrounding tissue and blood supply as it forms and then hardens. But once a tortoise hatches, the new keratin forming as the shell grows is directly exposed to the environment. New keratin needs moisture and needs to stay hydrated long enough, in that new stage - allowing it to swell and develop its thickness before hardening and becoming more resistant. Young tortoises hide and stay buried in mud, puddles, wet dirt, roots of plants, etc. - not just to hide from predators, but to keep in an environment to allow this growth. They can't just go from egg to the harsh environment. There needs a transitional stage. That's what drives me crazy when people talk about emulating the climate from which they "naturally come". They themselves are expert at avoiding that climate!!

    Absolutely a balance. My guess is that a young growing tortoise spends very little time actually basking. They thrive and grow in times of the year where ground temps and daily temps are high enough for maintaining proper metabolic body temps. I bet their UV exposure is indirect mostly. Cryptic basking in partial shade edges. Learning how to balance hydration and lighting/basking/proper artificial heat is key.
  19. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Mark.
    I forgot I was comparing mature fingernail keratin to immature keratin of the carapace. Should have realised because if you push two scutes hard enough towards each other you can see the new white keratin flex at the scute borders.
    That puts that thought process to bed.

    I agree with everything else you said, I raise my babies on that very principle, no basking and plenty of hydration.
  20. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I do not believe "no basking" can be made as a blanket statement for all species. I know sulcatas and leopards in particular, seem to "need" basking to get them going. Not sure if it is just thermo-regulation related. It may well be a photo stimulus to them. I've seem them want to bask when I know their body temps are very high. So - balance - is the key not just 'no basking'. I've not seen this as much with my stars. They don't seem to need to bask like the suclatas and leopards, although they still will, just not as much and sometimes they don't at all.
    ColaCarbonaria likes this.
Similar Threads: Pyramiding Solving
Forum Title Date
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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