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The squillgly lines

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by kellygirl64, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. kellygirl64

    kellygirl64 Well-Known Member

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    I read a post tonight as well as viewed some pictures of shells with white squiggly lines, perfect circles and perfect figure 8's. So I did a little research because I had thought I'd seen these structures before, but not in animals. After my research, I came back and read all the posts here I could find regarding said lines. Apparently these seem to appear suddenly-ish, perhaps just appearing more prominent to the naked eye is more appropriate. They seem to be youth-tortoise specific, as in each post was in regards to a very young tort. I was not able to find any scientific tortoise-shell specific 'diagnosis' but I learned there are keratin related fungal organisms out there and it seems wholly concivable to me that these lines are indeed 'something'. I was leaning towards fungal as opposed to parasitic. And feel that is a direction I will continue in. I saw posts where some torts got older and put outdoors and the lines went away, I had also found that these fungi live in substrates and find other hosts through that path. I also saw that the aging process seemed to cause them to lessen or disappear. Perhaps that is due to the ph structure of a young tortoise is different than that of an adult and the collagen, calcium and keratin structures in their truest, new forms are more 'healthy' for the fungus and that too is fueling my curiosity. Is this something we want to continue researching? I'm no scientist but already I've a bit more faith in it being an organism as opposed to hard water effects. Thanks.
  2. *debora*

    *debora* Well-Known Member

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    I am curious... I follow.
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  3. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    You might have something here.
    I've never seen any problems reported from anyone who's torts have had these lines. Although it would be interesting to know exactly what they are and why, it's nothing too worry about as far as we know so far.
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    To me, a fungal infection would be pathogenic and cause some sort of harm. This seems more "mechanical" than infectious to me. since all babies get it. I believe these are nutrient or hydration channels within the layers of the shell. The reason we see them so clearly on babies and they are most visible after a soak can be explained by the thin-ness and translucency of a baby's shell compared to the thicker and more opaque shell of an adult.

    A fungus would also appear in more of a broad "patch" insead of the distinct lines and patterns we see.

    I don't know what these lines are. No one does. But fungus would not be on my list of possibilities. No pathogen or parasite seems likely to me. I think it is some sort of natural physiological process or mechanism that we just don't understand or know about yet. This phenomenon is just one thing on a very long list that we don't know about tortoises.
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  5. kellygirl64

    kellygirl64 Well-Known Member

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    I tend to think the same way when thinking of fungi, as harmful, infections, pathogens and parasitic (in relation to being on a host) and I had no idea there were keratin-specific fungi when I began researching. But fungi 'eat / consume' in many different patterns, some of which can indeed be random and distinct (mechanical). Fungus in itself doesn't mean it's harmful. And honestly, I feel that the environments we create - like for my tort, humid, hot, moist and a bit stagnant is truly perfect fungi breeding conditions. Except for the hot part. If a fungus was to live in that environment but the 'hot' part was more destructive than ideal for them, would the fungus not seek out the coolest places to exist ? Wouldn't that place be the tortoise ? And since the tort actually moves within the heat / cooled areas wouldn't that pretty much ensure the fungi survival ? And if as the tort gets older, and the layers of keratin get harder and less 'nutritious' wouldn't that be a reason for the fungus to move along to another host or just die ? Add the now older tort seeking more direct heat due to eating more and needing the more digestive support - wouldn't that added heat be detrimental to the fungi, therefore also causing it to abandon the host or die, or dormant in the substrate until new host or death ? Some keratin-specific fungi can only survive on young keratin. And fungi are one of the most adaptable organisms on this earth, so figuring out the logic of the tortoise doing the cooling /heating transitions could easily also be applied. I'm not out to convince anyone but I don't think what I'm saying is all that outlandish either. It certainly has peaked my curiosity and hopefully some folks will maybe add to this query and do a bit of research as well. Maybe we can find an answer by asking the right questions. Not all fungus is bad. I need to state here that I, in no way, am saying this is a harmful situation. It may in fact be perfectly acceptable and harmless. My intention is to not cause panic or distress, but to research and educate with your help and input. If we don't look for an answer none will be found.
  6. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Way long, long time ago I was told it was the calcium making its way through the shell. Seems right, considering the baby's shell is thinner and easier to see through. I'm sticking with that.
  7. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I like your inquisitive mind and willingness to research and share! Thank you. I like to do that as well, and post my "findings" here to get feedback from others where actual experience can test theory.

    I share @Tom 's belief that this is not fungal. I only see it on the original aerolae of the scute. If it were fungal, it would extend into new growth areas as well, I would think. My belief is that this is a part of the original keratin laid down when the embryo is first defining scute borders and forming the new scute plates. I'm thinking this very new, thin keratin can flake off a bit as the hatchling grows its first year. The look is very similar to the look of an aquatic turtle whose scute is just starting to seperate prior to their shedding. So I think that is consistent with this.

    Also, the keratin in a scute contain no calcium.
  8. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    (LOL! Point taken!!)
  9. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

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    My Hermanns have them all over the shell. o_O
    They appear after hibernation and disappear in late summer when it's still warm but they are hardly growing anymore. Even wild tortoises have them.
    I always thought they were caused by stress on the keratin, maybe because of tiny shifts of the keratin layers during growth?
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  10. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Do you happen to have a picture of that? Sounds different than I have seen. Would love to add that to my pictures.
  11. Marianna

    Marianna Member

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  12. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to see on most pictures and the torts are usually very dirty. :oops:
    But you can see it a little on the annual photo documentation (from September). In spring they can appear all over the shell, but in fall they are mainly on the newest growth ring (like in the picture). They seem to start out as circles and slowly transform to lines near the edge of the scute. But I have to admit I never paid much attention to them.

    Attached Files:

  13. trickspiration

    trickspiration Active Member

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    20180210_221502695_iOS.jpg
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