Sulcata Hatchling Pyramiding Experiment

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Tom

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chairman said:
Initially I thought it was a little odd that you were contemplating the belly heat thing in the first place. But now that you've explained yourself it sounds like you may be on to something. The tortoise community now "knows" that baby tortoises have different humidity requirements than adults do (at least for several desert species)... I suppose it would also make sense that babies could would have different heat source requirements as well. Who knows, perhaps in a decade we'll all recommend using undertank heating for the first couple years and then swap to the MVBs later in life. The undertank heating would sure help with the humidity vs the bulbs.

BINGO!

Annieski said:
The other thing I was thinking of---if heat rises, the distribution should radiate outward which gives a bigger area and more of a varient--just as the sun does in a downward projection. Do the mats come in direct contact with the substrate? and how are they protected against electrical damage with pee and water contact? Just curious?

Reptile heat mats are actually "pig blankets". They are made to be outdoors, in the elements, with a sow and her babies walking, laying, pooping and peeing on them. This is what most people use for their outdoor tortoise houses. They come in different sizes. They are very heavy duty. Yvonne and Maggie have some that have been in continuous use under 100+ pound sulcatas for more than a decade. I've been using mine for about 7 years now. Check these out.
http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-12237.html
 

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Tom said:
chairman said:
Initially I thought it was a little odd that you were contemplating the belly heat thing in the first place. But now that you've explained yourself it sounds like you may be on to something. The tortoise community now "knows" that baby tortoises have different humidity requirements than adults do (at least for several desert species)... I suppose it would also make sense that babies could would have different heat source requirements as well. Who knows, perhaps in a decade we'll all recommend using undertank heating for the first couple years and then swap to the MVBs later in life. The undertank heating would sure help with the humidity vs the bulbs.

BINGO!

Annieski said:
The other thing I was thinking of---if heat rises, the distribution should radiate outward which gives a bigger area and more of a varient--just as the sun does in a downward projection. Do the mats come in direct contact with the substrate? and how are they protected against electrical damage with pee and water contact? Just curious?

Reptile heat mats are actually "pig blankets". They are made to be outdoors, in the elements, with a sow and her babies walking, laying, pooping and peeing on them. This is what most people use for their outdoor tortoise houses. They come in different sizes. They are very heavy duty. Yvonne and Maggie have some that have been in continuous use under 100+ pound sulcatas for more than a decade. I've been using mine for about 7 years now. Check these out.
http://tortoiseforum.org/thread-12237.html



Thank's--a picture is worth a thousand words.
 

Jacqui

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This is pretty much what I wanted to do, but with Redfoots. Lucky you to be able to have the animals to use.

You really shouldn't use your older animals for the controls. In order to be fair all need to be the same age/size and except for the one test item, everything else needs to be identical, this includes the control animals.

As to the belly heat, I for one have and do use it for some animals, including hatchlings.
 
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stells

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Sorry if i have missed it but are you going to raise any of these hatchlings dry?
 

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stells said:
Sorry if i have missed it but are you going to raise any of these hatchlings dry?

I THINK that his older animals (the control group) were raised dry.
 
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stells

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Oh ok... i was just under the impression Tom had tried many things with his older animals over the years... so in my eyes for the experiment to be a good one... hatchlings should also be raised the same as the one's being kept humid... same diet etc... but dry...

Then the experiment will still only MAYBE.. conclude that you need/don't need humidity with hatchling SULCATA'S... to really test the theory you would need to test it on a variety of species... for it to stand any ground...

Of course this is just my opinion :D
 

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Tom,if it doesn't work out,I have a dynamite turtle soup recipe given to me by Paul Prudhomme.
 
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stells

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Sorry me again... lol

Read this again trying to get it in my little head... this is a quote from the op

To recap: Same species, same location, same water, same diet, same supplements, same room, same temps, same set-up, DIFFERENT humidity and moisture levels. We will see, first hand, what happens. I intend to post a weekly or monthly pictorial update and keep it going for at least a couple of years.


I'm abit confused... in the op you also said that you were going to feed DIFFERENT diets... also if you are keeping the hatchlings in a three tiered enclosure... the ones on top will be warmer than the ones at the bottom... so you will have temperature fluctuations too... You are also going to have some on heat mats and some with overhead lights... sooooooooo you are going to have a few different things going on here so i am wondering how you are going to pinpoint growth just on the humidity... to do this everything HAS to be totally the same apart from the humidity... if not people are going to be able to say well you also did this that and the other with these hatchlings...

Seems abit like you are just doing this to make everyone think the same way as you do... why not just raise your tortoises how you want to raise them... if you get the most beautiful Sulcata's doing it that way then just let people make their own minds up as to whether they want to follow your route... instead of playing about with these hatchlings to try to convince people.... and possibly messing up a few tortoises while you experiment...
 

Tom

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Good points Kelly. I am basically going to raise these new babies in what I believe to be the best way possible. If I can help it, I'll never raise another one dry again. The main point of my endeavor is to demonstrate that proper humidity and hydration will prevent pyramiding. At the same time, I do want to see what the belly heat does AND what a high Mazuri diet does. I believe, whole heartedly, that each of the three "methods" are valid, healthy ways to raise a tortoise. We all say there is more than one way to do it right, right? My guess is that all six will grow up smooth and the Mazuri fed ones will grow bigger, faster. I am truly curious if the belly heat ones will grow up smoothER due to the lack of hot, dessicating, overhead lighting.

The temp is pretty consistent in my three tubs. Never more than a few degrees different from top to bottom.

I am making a bit of a show of it because there is still a lot of debate on this topic, but not enough pics of smooth leopards or sulcatas to silence the naysayers. I really want to be able to say, with absolute certainty, that if all other elements of husbandry are correct, that humidity really is the deciding factor for pyramiding, or not, in sulcatas and Leopards. I'm singling out these two species because they are so prone to it AND because I love having them around. BTW my Leopard hatchlings will be coming later and will be housed humid, but not in my rack of tubs.
 
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stells

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But you still need to test each theory seperately to get a good conclusion on either one... if humidity stick with humidity... keeping everything else the same... if its trying different diets... stick to the diets... keeping everything else the same... if its "belly heat" v's overhead heat... just test these... keeping everything else the same... you can't do them all together and draw and acurate conclusion... on any single one of the factors.. to do this of course you would need more hatchlings... more tubs... more time...
 

Tom

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stells said:
But you still need to test each theory seperately to get a good conclusion on either one... if humidity stick with humidity... keeping everything else the same... if its trying different diets... stick to the diets... keeping everything else the same... if its "belly heat" v's overhead heat... just test these... keeping everything else the same... you can't do them all together and draw and acurate conclusion... on any single one of the factors.. to do this of course you would need more hatchlings... more tubs... more time...

I get what you are saying and you are right. In one of the three tubs, I'm going to do exactly what you are advocating. I'm only changing one variable from the way I've always kept them: Humidity. The other two bins are different experiments entirely, but because of the humidity, I'm betting that none of then pyramid.
 

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I think it would be interesting enough just to recreate the humidity experiment, however when that was done before they did have to try different diets as well to make sure that the diet didn't have an effect. The conclusion to that experiment indicated that the tortoises with high humidity had the smoothest shells regardless of UVB or diet. However, I can't seem to find any pictures to accompany the original experiment. Come to think of it, I might have to look up the experiment itself because I haven't read it in a year or so. It would be really interesting to have an 'insider' do the experiment again and take pictures throughout the process. They will be your tortoises though, and I think any information we can glean from your experiment will be beneficial.

Good luck and keep us informed.
 

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The cause for pyramiding will never be 'proved'... too many variables.

This little anecdotal experiment could add to the evidence.

It sounds like a neat, well thought out experiment that could give some insight.

Many tortoise keepers, including myself, do such 'experiments'... it adds to the learning process.

oh... Terry... when are you going to start destroying the eggs you produce? Don't you think there are enough RFs floating around and they are produced in the thousands in SA. They just can't sell the babies in the US.

RichardS said:
Hi Tom,
I appreciate what you are trying to accomplish, but in the end, I don’t think you’ll be proving anything other than reinforcing something that you already believe in. That being the situation, it’s most likely best not to subject your pets to an experiment. Science is impartial. The whole idea of going into an experiment having already made up your mind does not make for good science.

In order for something like this to work and have the potential to prove anything, the experiment would have to take place over a number of years. I would also suggest using multiple species within the family Testudinidae to have any hope of applying your findings between species. Maybe use, carbonaria, elegans, pardalis, and sulcata? Two specimens for each would not be enough. Without doing the math, I would guess 5-10 in each group would give you a good average and take into account a few could die over the course of the experiment.

The animals would need to be dissected and have their bone growth examined by a qualified person to determine what the actual differences in growth were. The observations will need to be quantified so you could draw your conclusions based on the numbers.

You would need to document everything daily including weighing the food. You may have had to feed them separately, to ensure one bully in the group could not over eat. If you were planning to use a supplement, that may have required individual dosing as well to ensure equal intake.

Remember, its not what you know, its what you can prove. I think an experiment like this will happen, but it will be at a university where multiple people will be monitor the variables.
 

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-ryan- said:
I think it would be interesting enough just to recreate the humidity experiment, however when that was done before they did have to try different diets as well to make sure that the diet didn't have an effect. The conclusion to that experiment indicated that the tortoises with high humidity had the smoothest shells regardless of UVB or diet. However, I can't seem to find any pictures to accompany the original experiment. Come to think of it, I might have to look up the experiment itself because I haven't read it in a year or so. It would be really interesting to have an 'insider' do the experiment again and take pictures throughout the process. They will be your tortoises though, and I think any information we can glean from your experiment will be beneficial.

Good luck and keep us informed.

Hi Ryan. Thanks for the support. Here's a link to that article. Its on the pyramiding section of Africantortoise.com., way down at the bottom of the page, after all the other info that I disagree with.
http://africantortoise.com/_sulcatadiet2.pdf
 

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I mentioned this in "GROWING TOO FAST" but I acquired my 2 ivory babies (Snowflake and Eggroll) a few months back. I was very pleased with both (even though Eggroll is a little pyramided). Snowflake (and my two normal babies, Jimmy and Climber) are perfectly smooth. My goal is to inhibit any further pyramiding by upping the moisture...not just the humidity. It's really no big deal, but an hour before I move them into their night dens (indoors), I fill a LITTLE TIKES wading pool to plastron height and let them roam around until it's time to go in. I know they're too young to notice any significant changes but I can say for a fact that there's been no increase since they came into my care.

2s9eh61.jpg

This Eggroll the day I brought him home...I took him because he was HUGE for 6 months old...just massive and an absolute freak...as my son said...the Arnold Schwarzenneger of tortoises.

2chrkia.jpg

The first time I implemented the pool idea.

2ur2zo6.jpg

Eggroll on April 1, 2010

2gshppk.jpg

Eggroll on May 2, 2010

This is just an idea I came up with...please slam me with your ideas, criticisms, etc. I will update photos every month or so!
 

Kayti

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Dean- Your tortoises are beautiful.

I used to soak my growing Russians every day, because I thought that would raise the humidity more- but they still pyramided. (I didn't have enough humidity/moisture in their substrate.) The soaking probably kept them hydrated, but at least in my case didn't stop pyramiding.
 

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Kayti said:
Dean- Your tortoises are beautiful.

I used to soak my growing Russians every day, because I thought that would raise the humidity more- but they still pyramided. (I didn't have enough humidity/moisture in their substrate.) The soaking probably kept them hydrated, but at least in my case didn't stop pyramiding.

I keep their hide caves (there are 3) and night boxes loaded with damp timothy (yes, I change it out daily)...plus their outdoor enclosure is misted twice a day.
 

Kayti

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DeanS said:
Kayti said:
Dean- Your tortoises are beautiful.

I used to soak my growing Russians every day, because I thought that would raise the humidity more- but they still pyramided. (I didn't have enough humidity/moisture in their substrate.) The soaking probably kept them hydrated, but at least in my case didn't stop pyramiding.

I keep their hide caves (there are 3) and night boxes loaded with damp timothy (yes, I change it out daily)...plus their outdoor enclosure is misted twice a day.

Then I'm sure they wont pyramid- but I just don't think soaking alone does anything for pyramiding.
 

Tom

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Kayti and Dean. Thanks for contributing all this info. More pieces to the puzzle for all of us. Hydration, or lack thereof, is often listed as one of the contributing factors for pyramiding. At least in your case, the daily hydration didn't seem to help. It didn't help in my case either With all 4 of my sulcatas.

Just to reiterate it for anyone who hasn't heard it yet, here's my POV: Most knowledgeable keepers list several causes or contributing factors for pyramiding. Usually its hydration, diet (with emphasis on too much protein), calcium, UV or lack thereof(artificial or natural), and sometimes exercise. I contend that these things have very little to do with it. All of these things are very important for proper care of any tortoise, but I don't think they have much to do with pyramiding. Only in the last couple of years has humidity become a suspected factor for most people.

In my opinion, lack of sufficient humidity is the CAUSE of pyramiding. Other things might contribute to it, but this is the cause. This is based on all sorts of research AND personal observations from literally all over the world.

I have four reasons to strongly believe this running around right now. All of mine had all of the above factors well covered, EXCEPT humidity. Conversely, I've seen people all over the place that did NOT have any or all of those things covered, but because their tortoises grew up in a very humid environment, they grew up smooth.

Another factor that has recently come up is the time frame when this growth pattern is established. I believe whatever pattern (pyramided or not) is established in the first few days or weeks, is how its going to be. I got Daisy at 3 months old heavily pyramided and Dean's Eggroll was a little pyramided at a very young age too. Its really hard to stop it once it starts. I've heard from several breeders that if you can get them smooth to about 6" or so, it doesn't matter what you do after that, they will continue to grow smooth.

Hopefully, when this new batch of babies gets to about a year or two we'll have a pretty good idea of whether I'm right or not.
 

-EJ

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One more time folks...

With the best diet (whatever that is) and the best hydration(whatever that is)... all that is worthless unless you have the proper temperatures to metabolize the stuff. Now.. the stuff can be metabolized but it will not be metabolized properly without the proper temperatures.

With good heat and hydration you would be surprised at how forgiving the other stuff can be.

I keep several tortoises bone dry and they have zero pyramiding. Those that do have a little pyramiding are species that seem to be prone to pyramiding.

Again the 2 main factors seem to be Heat, first, and hydration second.

Tom said:
Kayti and Dean. Thanks for contributing all this info. More pieces to the puzzle for all of us. Hydration, or lack thereof, is often listed as one of the contributing factors for pyramiding. At least in your case, the daily hydration didn't seem to help. It didn't help in my case either With all 4 of my sulcatas.

Just to reiterate it for anyone who hasn't heard it yet, here's my POV: Most knowledgeable keepers list several causes or contributing factors for pyramiding. Usually its hydration, diet (with emphasis on too much protein), calcium, UV or lack thereof(artificial or natural), and sometimes exercise. I contend that these things have very little to do with it. All of these things are very important for proper care of any tortoise, but I don't think they have much to do with pyramiding. Only in the last couple of years has humidity become a suspected factor for most people.

In my opinion, lack of sufficient humidity is the CAUSE of pyramiding. Other things might contribute to it, but this is the cause. This is based on all sorts of research AND personal observations from literally all over the world.

I have four reasons to strongly believe this running around right now. All of mine had all of the above factors well covered, EXCEPT humidity. Conversely, I've seen people all over the place that did NOT have any or all of those things covered, but because their tortoises grew up in a very humid environment, they grew up smooth.

Another factor that has recently come up is the time frame when this growth pattern is established. I believe whatever pattern (pyramided or not) is established in the first few days or weeks, is how its going to be. I got Daisy at 3 months old heavily pyramided and Dean's Eggroll was a little pyramided at a very young age too. Its really hard to stop it once it starts. I've heard from several breeders that if you can get them smooth to about 6" or so, it doesn't matter what you do after that, they will continue to grow smooth.

Hopefully, when this new batch of babies gets to about a year or two we'll have a pretty good idea of whether I'm right or not.
 
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