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PYRAMIDING

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by cheerios586, Jan 13, 2018.

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  1. cheerios586

    cheerios586 Active Member

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    Hi,

    My tort is growing like a weed over the time we've had her (almost one year now). We purchased her from Pet Smart and she was infested with parasites when we got her, but, has since been given a clean bill of health and is doing great!

    My question is...Is pyramiding a given? It seems as though most tortoises (pictures) I've seen they all seem to have some pyramiding. Does this affect their health? How can I stop this from happening to mine?

    The forum has told me she is growing now because of being cared for more properly than at the pet store. I feed her a variety of leafy greens and vegetables with the occasional piece of fruit for a treat (very seldom). She has one of those calcium blocks in her enclosure which she'll nibble on occasionally. I sprinkle the calcium with vitamin D3 powder on her food a few time a week.

    Also, she will only drink when in her bath, is this strange? She has a water plate in her enclosure, but I never see her in it or drinking from it.

    Thank you all for your opinions and insight(s).

    Cheryl
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  2. Curtis_

    Curtis_ New Member

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    I am no tortoise expert but I'm fairly certain a perfectly healthy, hydrated tortoise living in proper humidity levels will not pyramid. Assuming you've kept this all perfect the tortoises whole life it really shouldn't pyramid at all. Many threads I've read say pyramiding is almost completely related to hydration and humidity. That being said, it's very hard to keep all these factors perfect and slight pyramiding seems pretty common as you were saying.

    If you're worried about it, I would make sure to always keep the proper humidity levels. And as long as you soak them once or twice a day for 15-30 minutes, they should be getting all the hydration they need. Again I'm no expert and hopefully someone more informed than me lends some advise, but I hope this helps.
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  3. cheerios586

    cheerios586 Active Member

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    Hi,

    Yes, this does help a lot!!! I've been told I don't keep the substrate wet enough, so will do better and maybe I'll be able to overt pyramiding from happening.

    Thank you so much
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  4. Curtis_

    Curtis_ New Member

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    You're very welcome, happy to help any way I can.
    I would also definitely recommend trying to make a closed environment to trap humidity, but looking at your set up that may be quite difficult lol. Your set up does look very nice though :) I'm absolutely not trying to insult it, but having most of their environment covered and sealed somewhat well can help a ton. So maybe if you do notice pyramiding or if you're thinking it's too dry that's definitely what I would try to do. And I see you have a hot humid hide, that's a very good thing to have. Just make sure you're always keeping it nice and moist in there.
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  5. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

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    Russians only require a closed chamber if it's a hatchling/ juvenile. If your tort is an adult an open top is fine, as long as the substrate is damp and water is offered at all times.
    Some types of torts are more prone than others to pyramid. Russians are not considered to be one of the more likely. A lot of torts appear pyramided because people are still learning that it is caused by dry conditions. There is a pretty common misconception that too much moisture is bad. All torts benefit from humidity.
    I feel I should mention that pyramiding that is all ready formed doesn't "go away", you can prevent it from happening on future growth. It is not detrimental to their health, mostly cosmetic. The problem comes from that a tort with pyramiding is also likely to have kidney or other internal damage from being dehydrated for prolonged periods. A smooth tort is considered to be a sign of health.
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  6. cheerios586

    cheerios586 Active Member

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    Hi,

    Thank you so much! I was afraid I wasn't keeping her hydrated enough. I'll make a humidity hide for her and be more diligent on keeping her substrate moist. I definitely do not want her to get any kidney disorders.
  7. Cat Cat

    Cat Cat New Member

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  8. cheerios586

    cheerios586 Active Member

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    Hi,

    Thank you for the link, very interesting article. I'll put this in place ASAP
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  9. GBtortoises

    GBtortoises Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    Pyramiding is not a given in captivity. It can easily be prevented with correct environment. However, if you've purchased tortoise from one of the big box pet stores (Petco or PetSmart). Your tortoise should be at least 4" or larger (by law). With a Russian tortoise that is past the point of any growth deformities developing for the most part. A 4" Russian tortoise is a young adult and is past the size of developmental growth. Any growth from this point on is mature growth and will be extremely slow, almost unnoticeable over time. That is not to say that growth deformity cannot happen with a tortoise over 4", it can, but in the case of Russian tortoises it doesn't manifest as pyramiding but more often as unusual growth of the nails, beak, and shell edges. In severe cases the scute centers of the carpace will often become raised but flat, each resembling small plateaus with the seams looking like valleys separating them.

    Russian tortoises should not be raised in "closed chamber" enclosures. They are an species that have evolved to live in a very dry, often very cold, climate. Constant exposure to high humidity can be detrimental to their health. Russian tortoises do very well in captivity at humidity levels lower than that of many other species. Quite often they are lumped into the same care parameters as that of Mediterranean tortoises. Probably because they are classified as Testudo species the same as Hermann's, Greeks and Marginateds. However, Russian tortoises come from a very different environment and climate than most other Testudo species do. As young tortoises that are still developing Russian tortoises do need some more humidity than they do as adults. This can be achieved by spraying their enclosures thoroughly a couple of times a day and once weekly spraying and churning the substrate well in their enclosure. Also reducing night time temperatures considerably and by spraying foods with water each feeding will help maintain good hydration. A damp hide can be provided along with a dry hide area to also give them a choice. But they should never be subjected to a constant high humidity enclosure all the time. Their enclosure needs to be able to completely dry out during the daytime.
    If kept in a proper environment Russian tortoise rarely ever drink water. But it should be available to them 24/7. Soaking is an added insurance that they have a chance to drink but it should not be relied upon as their sole chance to drink. They need to have water available when they need it, not just when their keeper offers it to them.
  10. Curtis_

    Curtis_ New Member

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    Yes listen to this! Lol. I own a juvenile Greek tortoise and I thought their humidity needs were roughly the same. Sorry to give you bad info.
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  11. cheerios586

    cheerios586 Active Member

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    Hi,
    Wow, thank you so much for the info, I really appreciate it. So if she is a teenager/young adult, does this mean pyramiding is "unlikely" although somewhat possible? Yoshi is finally starting to scrape her beak on the bone provided, does this help keep her beak trimmed? I have mine in a wooden enclosure, pic attached.
    Yoshi's enclosure.jpg

    I do wet it every night after she's gone to her cave or house to sleep. So, I'll start wetting it down more often. I keep it at about 80 percent humidity, from what the gauge tells me. I do offer a somewhat dry area, one of her caves are very wet and the other dry.

    Again, thank you so much for your insight. ;-)
  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I don't think pyramiding is much of a concern for a russian tortoise that is 4"+ and many years old.

    I would like to point out a common misconception though: Closed chamber does NOT = high humidity. A closed chamber simply cuts the enclosure air off from the room air, thereby making it much easier to maintain whatever conditions the keeper desires. A closed chamber can be kept bone dry or soppy wet, or anywhere in-between. Many of us do use closed chamber to create higher humidity levels in our dry homes and dry climates for species that need it, but if a person used dry substrate and didn't add moisture and wetness, then a closed chamber can also have very low humidity, if that is what is needed. Closed chambers just make it MUCH easier to create whatever conditions are wanted, rather than fighting physics.

    Another point to consider is that everyone's climate is different. What works in upstate NY, might not work in South FL, or the CA desert. It is up to the individual keeper to make a plan for housing their species and then make the necessary adjustments to get the environment just right. What is just right? Well, that would be another topic of debate...
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  13. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

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    Fyi...the button type Thermometer/hygrometers are notoriously inaccurate. I would try a couple of these digital ones.... Screenshot_2017-02-28-19-15-26.png
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  14. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Agreed it is very unlikely for your Russian to get pyramided at this point in its life but since your tortoise is wild caught, it will always look a little rough. Just the natural result of growing up in a dry place and banging around on rocks all day. :)

    My outdoor Russian has never drunk once from her water bowl. We removed it after a year because it was attracting birds and we have cats.

    For that matter, she only drinks during soaking when she comes out of hibernation. We soak her weekly anyway. It gives me a chance to give her a bit of a once over.
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  15. cheerios586

    cheerios586 Active Member

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    Hi,
    Thank you, I was wondering why she looked so dry and sort of rough compared to a lot of photo's. How sad that she was wild caught, but I'm glad I rescued her from the Pet Store, she was so full of parasites when I got her. She had Diarrhea and you could tell she just wasn't feeling well. Got her some meds did another recheck and now she's doing much better. Thanks again!
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