Sulcata Research Info

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Cagirl5

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So I recently discovered today that there is a Sulcata Research Project around where I live and I wanted to share with you guys some of the information they've figured out... Feel free to debate, comment, etc.

DIET
-They believe there is no reason to be feeding grocery bought food. period. (I know that this is definitely not possible for a lot of people)
-Treats should be kept natural. For example, a different kind of flower, grass or weed.
-Overfeeding could possibly be a factor of pyramiding.

SOAKING
-Routine soaking is not good and it is unnatural. There is no proof that soaking prevents or helps pyramiding.
-Soaking interferes with the animal's natural digestive transit time.
-Keeping a pan of water at all times in their enclosure will allow them to use it when they need - they know what they need better than we do.
-"Soaking exposes the animals to a high risk of fungal and bacterial infections."

They provide explanation for why they think soaking may be a contributing factor to pyramiding: "The scutes (keratin) absorb a lot of water and become very soft. The expansion and contraction of the keratin causes a lot of stress on the underlying bone."

TEMPERATURE

-Care sheets recommend "minimum temperatures should never fall below 60 degrees at night and a high of 95 degrees during the day." This is unnatural.
Explanation: "Temperatures in the native habitat of the sulcata tortoise often drop well below 60°F. Turn off the heat and light at night; the tortoises need the cool, dark period of time to simulate their natural cycle"
Note: If you must keep sulcata tortoises in a cold climate, let them cool down to about 50°F (10°C), and warm up slowly so they will eat a little later in the day. Feed them only long-fiber grasses, green or dry, because the fermenting process creates internal core heat. The animal’s core temperature will be maintained more evenly throughout the night.

HUMIDITY

-Caresheets say "They need high humidity - between 80-90%". Also unnatural. They claim field research shows humidity in the wild is 45-50%.

PYRAMIDING

-Protein is not a contributing factor. "Sulcatas get a lot of protein and fat from the seed heads of the native grasses they eat"
-Pyramiding may be caused by too much unnatural sunlight, or too much natural sunlight.
-Soaking may cause pyramiding (explained above)

 

EKLC

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The sulcata's range is almost entirely within the tropics, with altitudes not high enough for a substantial temperature drop. Look at any city within the sahel and the temperatures are exactly that: lows in the mid 60's - low 70's, with highs in the low to mid 90's. This is year round, and without any significant cold fronts like we have in the states. That's what we emulate in our enclosures, with night time warmth and cooler areas away from basking lights acting as distinct micro-climates a tortoise could position themselves in to attain the right temperature.

As for humidity, the humidity in their daily travels varies from 0-100%. Maybe the humidity in a weather station 6 feet above the ground in an alumimum box is 45-50%, but that's not too relevant for tortoise care.

Here is a reason for grocery greens: I wet my spring mix and then toss it with the dried carolinapetsupply salad mix, consisting of 8 species of grasses and weeds.

I'm also not sure how they arrived at the conclusion that soaking contributes to pyramiding, since all evidence from the keepers here points to the exact opposite.

I appreciate that they are working with tortoises and trying to make things better, but I feel they need to change the way they disseminate information. You need to back up claims. If you're trying to say something about their natural environment, show a range map and get some climate data. If you want to show something may contribute to pyramiding, say "look at these healthy tortoises I raised doing _____".
 

chaloman

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Cagirl5 said:
So I recently discovered today that there is a Sulcata Research Project around where I live and I wanted to share with you guys some of the information they've figured out... Feel free to debate, comment, etc.

DIET
-They believe there is no reason to be feeding grocery bought food. period. (I know that this is definitely not possible for a lot of people)
-Treats should be kept natural. For example, a different kind of flower, grass or weed.
-Overfeeding could possibly be a factor of pyramiding.

SOAKING
-Routine soaking is not good and it is unnatural. There is no proof that soaking prevents or helps pyramiding.
-Soaking interferes with the animal's natural digestive transit time.
-Keeping a pan of water at all times in their enclosure will allow them to use it when they need - they know what they need better than we do.
-"Soaking exposes the animals to a high risk of fungal and bacterial infections."

They provide explanation for why they think soaking may be a contributing factor to pyramiding: "The scutes (keratin) absorb a lot of water and become very soft. The expansion and contraction of the keratin causes a lot of stress on the underlying bone."

TEMPERATURE

-Care sheets recommend "minimum temperatures should never fall below 60 degrees at night and a high of 95 degrees during the day." This is unnatural.
Explanation: "Temperatures in the native habitat of the sulcata tortoise often drop well below 60°F. Turn off the heat and light at night; the tortoises need the cool, dark period of time to simulate their natural cycle"
Note: If you must keep sulcata tortoises in a cold climate, let them cool down to about 50°F (10°C), and warm up slowly so they will eat a little later in the day. Feed them only long-fiber grasses, green or dry, because the fermenting process creates internal core heat. The animal’s core temperature will be maintained more evenly throughout the night.

HUMIDITY

-Caresheets say "They need high humidity - between 80-90%". Also unnatural. They claim field research shows humidity in the wild is 45-50%.

I think there is some study made in Austria that shows how humidity can prevent pyramiding, the higher humidity is the less pyramiding they get.

PYRAMIDING

-Protein is not a contributing factor. "Sulcatas get a lot of protein and fat from the seed heads of the native grasses they eat"
-Pyramiding may be caused by too much unnatural sunlight, or too much natural sunlight.

How can too much sunlight cause pyramiding ?


-Soaking may cause pyramiding (explained above)


I think there is some study made in Austria that shows how humidity can prevent pyramiding, the higher humidity is the less pyramiding they get.

How can too much sunlight cause pyramiding ?

This is the Ojai sulcata project caresheet is it not?
 

Cagirl5

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EKLC said:
The sulcata's range is almost entirely within the tropics, with altitudes not high enough for a substantial temperature drop. Look at any city within the sahel and the temperatures are exactly that: lows in the mid 60's - low 70's, with highs in the low to mid 90's. This is year round, and without any significant cold fronts like we have in the states. That's what we emulate in our enclosures, with night time warmth and cooler areas away from basking lights acting as distinct micro-climates a tortoise could position themselves in to attain the right temperature.

As for humidity, the humidity in their daily travels varies from 0-100%. Maybe the humidity in a weather station 6 feet above the ground in an alumimum box is 45-50%, but that's not too relevant for tortoise care.

Here is a reason for grocery greens: I wet my spring mix and then toss it with the dried carolinapetsupply salad mix, consisting of 8 species of grasses and weeds.

I'm also not sure how they arrived at the conclusion that soaking contributes to pyramiding, since all evidence from the keepers here points to the exact opposite.

I appreciate that they are working with tortoises and trying to make things better, but I feel they need to change the way they disseminate information. You need to back up claims. If you're trying to say something about their natural environment, show a range map and get some climate data. If you want to show something may contribute to pyramiding, say "look at these healthy tortoises I raised doing _____".

I don't feel like copy and pasting a huge answer for you, so here, read this article:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/pyramiding.html

There's your humidity and temperature answer, and the explanation to soaking...
 

EKLC

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Cagirl5 said:
EKLC said:
The sulcata's range is almost entirely within the tropics, with altitudes not high enough for a substantial temperature drop. Look at any city within the sahel and the temperatures are exactly that: lows in the mid 60's - low 70's, with highs in the low to mid 90's. This is year round, and without any significant cold fronts like we have in the states. That's what we emulate in our enclosures, with night time warmth and cooler areas away from basking lights acting as distinct micro-climates a tortoise could position themselves in to attain the right temperature.

As for humidity, the humidity in their daily travels varies from 0-100%. Maybe the humidity in a weather station 6 feet above the ground in an alumimum box is 45-50%, but that's not too relevant for tortoise care.

Here is a reason for grocery greens: I wet my spring mix and then toss it with the dried carolinapetsupply salad mix, consisting of 8 species of grasses and weeds.

I'm also not sure how they arrived at the conclusion that soaking contributes to pyramiding, since all evidence from the keepers here points to the exact opposite.

I appreciate that they are working with tortoises and trying to make things better, but I feel they need to change the way they disseminate information. You need to back up claims. If you're trying to say something about their natural environment, show a range map and get some climate data. If you want to show something may contribute to pyramiding, say "look at these healthy tortoises I raised doing _____".

I don't feel like copy and pasting a huge answer for you, so here, read this article:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/pyramiding.html

There's your humidity and temperature answer, and the explanation to soaking...

That's a very interesting article in regards to keratin and how it behaves in the wild.

Relating to sulcatas:
The humidity data is for different species, in different climates. Most sulcatas have a 3 month wet season. What do we know about growth rates in different seasons? we're talking about sulcatas and leopards, not greeks and desert tortoises.

There is a base assumption in that article that the animal has some underlying MBD, which I'm not willing to give for any tortoise with pyramiding.

As for soaking, the article mentions permanent dwellinging in a moist environment, not a 15 minute soak (where the tortoise may not even be wet above the lower third of his body).

And about temperature, the prevalence of cold temps is simply not true, and is not even discussed in that article.
 

wellington

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That's one research I hope no one new sulcata owner looking for help fines. Do they give any back ground on themselves, the people doing the research? Do they say if they have gone to the region the sullys are from. Do they mention if they took into account the hatchlings burrow under the wet/damp more humid substrate. We have a few members that can prove this study wrong. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, that kind of, for the most part wrong info is still being studied and is out there:(
 

MaggieofNarnia

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Is this an actual scientific experiment or research project? When I first got Darwin I kept looking online, but almost every piece of information seemed to be gathered by people who had an interest in the animal and were sharing their owns experiences. It's very interesting to know people out there are trying to gather solid information on the species, but unfortunately I'd leery to trust any other type of information.
Now, if they are scientists are a university performing experiments using the scientific method, that's a totally different story.
I'm looking into graduate school options and have considered looking into pyramiding in tortoises because it seems to have everyone so baffled and I'm really curious to know what it is.
 

Tom

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Oh I don't have the patience to type this out again...

Can somebody find and post the link of the first three times we discussed Dave's site. A search for "Ojai Sulcata Project" or "Dave Friend" should turn it up...
 

mctlong

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Well, first off, kudos to the Ojai Sulcata Project for rescuing and placing so many sulcatas. It sounds like a great organization.

Second, there is not a single perfect way to raise a sulcata.

As far as the issue of hydration - it appears that this group has found a way around soaking that provides sufficient hydration to raise healthy sulcatas. The group provides the torts plenty of water, mud holes, and sprinklers to keep up humidity. The Ojai webpage also mentioned that humidity in the burrows is around 60%. Under these conditions, I can see how soaking may be obsolete.

On the temperature issue, Ojai, California has a nice, moderate temperature. Turning heat off at night might be okay in that region. I doubt the webpage is recommending turning off heat in the colder, snowy regions of the world. Personally, I prefer to keep a heat regulated hide in my outdoor enclosure. If my sulcata chooses to use it, she can. If she prefers a colder climate, she can sleep outside of the hide. I leave it up to her to decide (and she ALWAYS chooses to sleep in the heated hide).

I feel the need to clarify one thing on the diet issue:
Cagirl5 said:
Protein is not a contributing factor. "Sulcatas get a lot of protein and fat from the seed heads of the native grasses they eat"

The jury is still out on this one, but it appears that sullys can tolerate a good amount of plant protein. I see no evidence of plant protein causing pyramiding. However, excess amounts of animal protein, such as that found in dog food, does absolutely contribute to malformed shells and overall poor tortoise health.

Overall, it sounds like the Ojai sulcata Project is raising healthy sulcatas. Their husbandry methods differ from mine, but what they're doing is working for them. So, I say, more power to 'em. I hope they keep doing what they're doing.
 
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