Pyramiding

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egyptiandan

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So here we go :p

Tom made a definative statement in a recent thread. "Pyramiding is CAUSED by growth in the absence of sufficient humidity". I'm sure we have gotten into it before, but can anyone explain to me exactly what humidity is doing to prevent pyramiding in a tortoise. I want to know the mechanics of it all. :D

Danny
 

Seiryu

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I too would like to know the thoughts on this. My Leopard tortoise, is slightly pyramiding (some said though he was just bumpy and that's just the way he is).

He was kept on Moist (sometimes wet) substrate, access to water 24/7, with a humid hide reaching 90-99% humidity. I soaked him 2-3 times a week. And every feeding (twice a day) I would clean his water, put in warm water and stick him in there every single feeding. So like "mini-soaks". Sometimes he would drink, sometimes he wouldn't.
 

South FL Katie

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I think the humidity has a lot to do with it. Maybe not in all circumstances but Richard Fife has tested different theories and is getting smoother Leopards by using higher humidity levels.

My Richard Fife Leopard is much smoother than my other Leopard. I don't think it's a coincidence.

Cody from Richard
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Charlie from a different breeder
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Maggie Cummings

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I say the same thing over and over and I guess because I am not an expert nobody pays any attention to me. Pyramiding is caused by 3 things...lack of exercise, lack of humidity and lack of a good diet. If you have 2 of these things corrected, he has a good diet and does get enough humidity but not enough exercise he is gonna pyramid. Enough exercise great diet not enough humidity, gonna pyramid. I think you need all three of those things, good diet, lots of humidity and lots of exercise or you will have a pyramided tortoise. If you miss one of those things he will pyramid. And BTW, I have been saying this for a number of years. I have always felt this way from the very beginning of my chelonian experience.
My main experience is with Geochelone sulcata and Gopherus agassizii, but I also have box turtles, Russians and a Hermanni, a pond turtle and a RES. I used to volunteer at my sister's turtle and tortoise rescue and while working there I brought home many sick or abused animals and cared for them until they either recovered or died. I feel I have extensive experience with my chosen species and with caring for those sick animals. My pond turtle is missing 1.5 legs, one Ornata is blind and another is partly blind, one is missing a leg. I have head-started a number of Gopherus agassizii for the rescue and I kept them from hatching to a year old and not one that I raised was pyramided. I had 3 Sulcata hatchlings that I raised to yearling status and they were not pyramided and it's because I nurtured those 3 important things. You need lots of exercise, a varied diet and lots of humidity to prevent pyramiding.
I feel I have enough experience to stake my claim on pyramiding.
 

chadk

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I don't think anyone questions your experience Maggie. Some of us are just not satisfied with anecodotal evidence and have to dig deeper and ask things like "why" and "how". While some folks are fine with just taking someone's word for things, others strive to understand the mechanics behind them, going for 'accepting' to 'understanding'.
 

egyptiandan

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All good answers :) but none of them answer my question :p

I want to know what humidity does to a tortoise physically that prevents pyramiding.

Danny
 

Seiryu

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maggie3fan said:
Pyramiding is caused by 3 things...lack of exercise, lack of humidity and lack of a good diet. If you have 2 of these things corrected, he has a good diet and does get enough humidity but not enough exercise he is gonna pyramid. Enough exercise great diet not enough humidity, gonna pyramid. I think you need all three of those things, good diet, lots of humidity and lots of exercise or you will have a pyramided tortoise.

I agree Maggie. It's not JUST Humidity. I was just showing my example of my Leopard. He was kept in a very humid environment and still pyramided. Now I got him at 3-4 months old, so for all I know he might have been started wrong. But the humidity isn't reversing anything yet, but it's not really getting worse either.

I believe I have a good diet too: Plantain, Raddichio, Dandelion, Collard, Turnip, Radish, Hibiscus leaves, Chicory,Clover, Spring Mix, Grasses, 2-3 Moistened Mazuri pellets a week. Calcium Carbonate sprinkled on every meal with Rep-Cal/Herpitivite once a week. Cuttle-bone too.

I do watch the Oxalic Acid intake and items with it are maybe 10-20% of his diet.

As far as exercise. Every time I check on him, he's in a different spot walking around. Outside, he just keeps on trucking, but will take occasional naps in the Hostas or tall grass.

I *believe* I have everything going for him. He isn't an inactive tort by any means, but the pyramiding isn't reversing yet. Hopefully this isn't too off topic, but it's just to further show I don't just keep him humid and expect him to smooth out.
 

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maggie3fan said:
I say the same thing over and over and I guess because I am not an expert nobody pays any attention to me. Pyramiding is caused by 3 things...lack of exercise, lack of humidity and lack of a good diet. If you have 2 of these things corrected, he has a good diet and does get enough humidity but not enough exercise he is gonna pyramid. Enough exercise great diet not enough humidity, gonna pyramid. I think you need all three of those things, good diet, lots of humidity and lots of exercise or you will have a pyramided tortoise. If you miss one of those things he will pyramid. And BTW, I have been saying this for a number of years. I have always felt this way from the very beginning of my chelonian experience.
My main experience is with Geochelone sulcata and Gopherus agassizii, but I also have box turtles, Russians and a Hermanni, a pond turtle and a RES. I used to volunteer at my sister's turtle and tortoise rescue and while working there I brought home many sick or abused animals and cared for them until they either recovered or died. I feel I have extensive experience with my chosen species and with caring for those sick animals. My pond turtle is missing 1.5 legs, one Ornata is blind and another is partly blind, one is missing a leg. I have head-started a number of Gopherus agassizii for the rescue and I kept them from hatching to a year old and not one that I raised was pyramided. I had 3 Sulcata hatchlings that I raised to yearling status and they were not pyramided and it's because I nurtured those 3 important things. You need lots of exercise, a varied diet and lots of humidity to prevent pyramiding.
I feel I have enough experience to stake my claim on pyramiding.

Maybe you can offer ideas as to why a 3 to 4 yoa Gopher might start slight pyramiding since moving from humid Louisiana to pretty dry Utah...I've heard, from various sources, that pyramiding is thought to only be an issue in very young (1 yoa and under) torts and this started several months ago, and is presumed to be related to the move.

Slowpoke had always been an outside tort until the move, and still stays outside most of the year, has always had a roomy home, currently about 40' X 20', and kept on a good diet.

Stacy, Slowpoke's "mom" is really worried!

TIA!
 

Rhyno47

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Im not very sure either. My thought was that since pyramiding only really happens while they are young it has to do with their rapid growth, (primarily sulcatas.) Humidity must somehow keep it under control. If you look at a pyramided shell's inner workings, its very unorganized almost like how cancer cells grow on top of each other instead of lying flat and staying organized. I think that in a humid environment the cells stack evenly on each other. Another thing to consider is that during healthy growth the cells on top are growing and reproducing while the cells on the bottom of the shell are dying off at the same pace. In unhealthy growth there are air pockets inside the pyramided growth. It resembles a sponge in a way. So in a humid environment the cells can grow evenly, while in an arid environment cells stack up and grow faster than they are dying off.
 

Yvonne G

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egyptiandan said:
All good answers :) but none of them answer my question :p

I want to know what humidity does to a tortoise physically that prevents pyramiding.

Danny

I can make a guess, but I don't really know for sure. It keeps the new growth softer and allows it to lay flat. In my opinion, when its new growth and dry, it will tend to kinda' pinch up instead of be supple and lay flat. Just a guess.
 

kbaker

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egyptiandan said:
So here we go :p

Tom made a definative statement in a recent thread. "Pyramiding is CAUSED by growth in the absence of sufficient humidity". I'm sure we have gotten into it before, but can anyone explain to me exactly what humidity is doing to prevent pyramiding in a tortoise. I want to know the mechanics of it all. :D

Danny

I did not get much of a response with these posts.

http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-14007-post-125363.html#pid125363
http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-12290-post-108551.html#pid108551
http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-11653-post-101920.html#pid101920

Do they help answer your question?
 

TylerStewart

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Am I the only person here who has killed a "desert (sulcata - leopard)" tortoise from having too much humidity, too often? I agree (and I think most do) that humidity plays a major role, but the answer is not as easy as throwing 100% humidity at the tortoise all the time. I'm convinced that I have killed leopard and sulcata babies for this reason. There's a balance that needs to be reached between wet and dry, and even Richard Fife agrees to this, and does this. People constantly think that just turning a sulcata or leopard into a water turtle will prevent pyramiding, when, in my opinion, it creates a sick (or worse) tortoise.

Edit: Sorry Danny, I doubt you're going to get the answer(s) you're asking for!

I also don't really think that much of anything regarding pyramiding happens in the first weeks of life. Months, probably. Year, of course... Mine usually haven't changed much at all in size, shape or smoothness in weeks. Maybe I should cut back on the dog food I've been giving them ;)
 

PowersSax911

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I have a question about my greek. He's got ridges forming on his shell. How does humidity affect his/her shell? it doesn't make sense. Its like rain altering human DNA :p
 

Terry Allan Hall

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PowersSax911 said:
I have a question about my greek. He's got ridges forming on his shell. How does humidity affect his/her shell? it doesn't make sense. Its like rain altering human DNA :p

Ridges like growth rings or actual pyramiding?

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main_Turbo-Pyramiding1.jpg
 

GBtortoises

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Good question Dan-and I don't have the answer either. All I'm going to add is this: I think it's more accurately moisture and not humidity. Many of the tortoise species from climates with dry air still grow smooth in the wild so I don't see how it can be due solely or mainly to ambient air humidity. But, given the fact that most if not all very young tortoises spend a lot of time in hiding during their younger years, basically in constant contact with the ground, where even the slightest moisture is trapped, I have to believe that substrate moisture is the key. The room that I raise baby tortoises in averages 50-60% ambient humidity throughout the winter. I spray the tortoises substrates very well twice daily and soak it thoroughly about once a week. All of the babies I've raised in the past half dozen years or so since I've started "keeping them wet" are as smooth as possible for being raised in captivity. Minus the hardships of the wild like wind, abrasion and other natural hardships that would help keep them smooth.
While I do believe that moisture (or lack of) is the major contributing factor to smooth growth I think that there are other minor contributing factors too such as excessive heat for long durations (which may obviously contribute in part to dryness), excessive use of vitamins and not enough room for normal activity.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I like Vicki's theory that it's wet or damp pressure that prevents the pyramiding. In the wild hatchlings stay in a humid burrow or hide under plant leafs. That puts a subtle damp pressure on the carapace. I like this theory but how could we prove it? Vicki tries to replicate this in captivity and keeps her babies in a tight hide or under lots of plants.
 

kbaker

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I have not had any problems with tortoises getting sick...hatchling to large adults....sulcatas and leopards.

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egyptiandan

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Never thought I was Tyler. :D

Rapid growth is only a problem when there isn't enough of the 3 things (calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D3) needed to produce bone. If your providing enough of all 3 to keep up with the growth, than the new growth will be fine. When there isn't enough of all 3 the bone forms with what is available. When that happens the bone becomes porus (full of holes) to get the job done.

Not sure how a form fitting hide would work on influencing the shape of the shell unless it was attached to the shell permanently. As in what the Aztec did by strapping a board to a baby's forehead to make a sloping skull (it worked really well).

Not sure how you can compare hair to bone, but I guess you can. :p I know that low pressure brings clouds, rain and higher humidity and high pressure brings cloudless skies, no clouds and lower humidity. But other than that how does air pressure influence bone growth.

I also didn't know that bone growth was like curing cement. :D Bone is either growing bone or already grown bone. Growing occurs when cartiledge is replaced by bone, making the bones longer. When still growing, cartiledge is replaced faster than the bone can grow. Thats how the bones keep growing until adulthood.

All these wonderful things are happening inside the tortoise's body (not outside the body).

So again :) What is happening inside a tortoise that would be influenced by humidity?

Danny
 

TylerStewart

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kbaker said:
I have not had any problems with tortoises getting sick...hatchling to large adults....sulcatas and leopards.

That's far from what I'm talking about. I'm saying they shouldn't be kept constantly (as in, 24/7) on a wet substrate (and/or 100% humidity), which is what some people think prevents pyramiding. I have played around with that idea, and it wasn't pretty. I'm sure someone will do it and say I'm wrong - I'm just saying when I did it, I was losing babies, and there was no other explanation than that for me. It's a mistake I would never test again, that's for sure.

In the Leopard tortoise book by Fife, it shows very clearly how to build a "humid hide" and combine it with a dry area to produce smooth babies. It shows it also in the Star Tortoises book by Jerry Fife. If it is tried that way, it works. I'm not sure why more humidity or moisture is needed, and to me, adds risk. That's all.

-Pretty sulcatas, by the way.
 
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