Just curious, if humidity and external hydration is key to smooth shell growth, how does this work for desert species? How have they adapted to find enough moisture to keep them from pyramiding?
Pictures or it didn’t happen. Sorry, I had to say it.
At what point do you start backing off with daily soaks?I move mine outside full time at about 8-10". Whenever I do this, with all of my species, growth slows tremendously and the growth lines get all rough and gnarly. Eventually, after about a year or so, they start growing again, and things seem to normalize a bit.
This is very odd because they spend a lot of each day outside when they are 5-8", and their outdoor heated night boxes offer similar conditions to what they sleep in in their indoor enclosures. There should not be such a drastic change in their growth, but there is. I think this is the stage where people in the warm humid South East have an advantage over those of us in the hot dry South West.
Not sure I could get pictures of the poop helping to keep humidity, but uh.. here’s a desert tortoise going into a burrow? Lol View attachment 251761
They likely don’t go out to urinate/poop, so with how damp the waste is and how deep down the burrow are, I would certainly think they would have an effect on keeping humidity.
Quick comment... I thought (and read recently) when it is really hot or during drought periods or brumation, there is very little bodily excretions happening, in fact for long periods of time, nothing. So, unlike well-kept fed and watered torts that probably go often, those out in the wilds don’t quite go that often enough to maintain humidity levels deep inside a burrow.
Just throwing that info into the discussion.
Apparently not many other people are spending time at the bottom of a burrow, because not only can I not find pictures of poop at the bottom of a burrow, I can’t find pictures of the bottom of a deep burrow period. But we know that tortoises that live in dryer environments live in deep burrows without pictures of the depth, don’t we? The “pictures or it didn’t happen” saying doesn’t work for everything, as much as I wish it did.Again I say, pictures or it didn’t happen. I’m not spending time in a burrow as l should to make such a broad based brush.
That makes sense.@Anyfoot Craig:
I believe that size does have the most effect on how resistant the shell becomes to pyramiding. The more the bones have thickened and developed nice, dense structure, the more resistant to pyramiding they become. For a sulcata, my observations have been that once it reaches about 10" or so, if grown with a good diet and has good bone density, then pyramiding does not occur in mine. Like @Tom I put mine out full time once they are about 8-10" in a very dry summertime climate. Even before I was aware of the humidity solution, I still noticed mine smoothed out and grew very nicely from that point on. There was nothing I could do back then, to stop the young ones from pyramiding, though.
Not so coincidentally, in the wild, Sulcatas do not begin digging their own burrows until they are about 10-12" - or normally in their third year. Up until that time, they are small enough to still easily bury themselves in moist sand under plant roots and other moist areas they seek out. So it would seem keeping buried, keeps them growing smooth, not using a burrow. Young sulcatas, when actually found, tend to congregate in groups and dig into favored, moist sandy areas and keep covered.
I once saw a 4 incher going to town, and also a 6 incher one time, but those are both one time only very unusual cases. Normally, the actual burrowing doesn't start until they are about 10-12" like Mark noted.