What is the physiology behind pyramiding?

Testudoresearch

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Hopefully, Frances will jump in with some answers for you on the IR-A question. She explains it well.

I'd like to go back quite a few years and return to something I said in the introduction of one of my earlier books:

"One has only to look at how intimately wild tortoises rely upon their natural environment for all of their biological requirements; food, warmth, moisture, humidity, light, cover, nesting sites and mates are all there in exactly the right balance. Tortoises are 'niche' animals that have adapted over the millennia to fit perfectly into a very specific environmental and ecological 'slot'. Remove them from that environment, cut them off from their ecological roots, and tortoises very rapidly begin to experience serious difficulties. Most captive environments do not even begin to approach the true environmental and ecological ideal of the animals they are supposed to contain. It is for this reason, because it is so absolutely fundamental to successful maintenance, that I would suggest that everyone who wishes to keep tortoises or turtles in captivity should examine as carefully as possible the native habitats of whatever species they intend to keep. Nothing is more instructive, or is likely to provide more insight, than a few days spent meeting tortoises in the wild or visiting their habitats"


This is something I feel quite strongly about, and I believe the above is as true to day as it ever was. Going back even further, writing in the context of diet in captivity, I have said this:

"Nutritional disorders. The disorders may be usefully divided into two main groups consisting of:

diseases of excess
diseases of deficiency

The dietary requirements of captive herbivorous chelonians are far more complex than has previously been assumed by many keepers. It is apparent that the simplistic approach of providing a high quality diet in mammalian terms is totally inadequate to meet the real needs of chelonians which have a completely different set of requirements. Indeed, that which may represent a high quality diet for a mammal or carnivorous reptile may have entirely negative consequences when presented to a chelonian herbivore"


Again, I feel this remains very true and very relevant. It goes to the core of the argument that the further we remove these animals from their natural environment, and natural diet, and the more we believe we can "improve" on these, the more problems we in fact create.

In that context, we see increasing evidence of keepers believing that "more is better" in so many areas. We started out finding that 'Tru-Lite' tubes made a huge difference to the prevention of MBD. More and more powerful lamps have subsequently been developed (this is no bad thing of itself), but keepers have often taken a very simplistic view, looked up mid-day UVB levels in the relevant natural habitat, and then 'blasted' their animals with this peak level for 14 hours a day! Not taking any account at all of the fact that the animal in question may never be out and about at mid-day in the first place!

The same thing is seen with temperatures. You hear about the "Preferred Optimum" - but this can be highly misleading. I was quite shocked, when recently, I reviewed a large number of books and papers that have relied upon such data - only to discover that in numerous cases, the methodology used to take those temperatures was defective. The result is that much of the "Preferred Optimum" information and advice in print is incorrect and effectively meaningless. Yet, you again encounter case after case of people deciding that if the "preferred optimum" they read in a book says 32 Celsius, it must be a great idea to provide that 24/7!

A further example is the person who reads that their tortoise, in the wild, is "most active" during the rainy season, and then decides that this must mean the rainy season is "best" and it is therefore a great idea and even "better" to provide it all year round.

These are fundamental mistakes. Mistakes not only in terms of the conditions that result, but also mistakes in terms of the psychology and education of keepers.

I have coined a term for this. I call it Environmental Excess Syndrome. I should probably add little (r), (c) and (TM) symbols! Regardless, you read it here for the first time, 20 December 2013. It is from a forthcoming book dealing with advanced principles of chelonian husbandry. I define it as referring not only to the unsuitable conditions themselves that result, but also to the motivations and behaviour of keepers who - while genuinely intending to do good - actually cause harm.
 

paludarium

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Testudoresearch said:
I agree with you and am convinced beyond doubt that the comparison is a valid one. You only have to read the veterinary journals to see case-after-case linking excess growth to subsequent orthopedic problems. Cats, dogs, horses, reptiles... everything. I mentioned above that there are studies comparing wild to captive growth, this is just an example (one of many) but the results are pretty typical.
The study tried to compare growth rates in captive and wild tortoises, however it did not show adverse outcome of the fast growing captive individuals.

To my surprise, the 3 sulcata tortoises ate animal matters when they were young. Because the authors reported that in their first years of life carp (fish) food was offered as well, as was common practice at the time. The three individuals, two males and one female, were weighed regularly during a period of almost 18 years.

The research team also observed that both males masturbated at an age between four and five years (as confirmed by microscopic identification of ejaculate) and that the female laid her first eggs at an age of five years. In contrast, the estimated age of sexual maturity was 15 years (inflexion point) for free-ranging animals.
This meant that fast growing sulcata tortoises accomplished their life cycles earlier. Would that be harmful to an endangered species? I don't know. I speculate that only healthy tortoises would copulate or even lay eggs?

The authors also pointed out that in the literature for private tortoise breeders, one can find warnings against fast growth, and even warnings that offspring of fast-growing animals may be less viable (e.g. Wegehaupt 2006). Nevertheless to the autors' knowledge, further evidence for these claims is lacking in tortoises...

The authors published another study in 2012 Variation in growth and potentially associated health status in Hermann's and spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo hermanni and Testudo graeca). They did not find indication that animals particularly heavy for their age were more prone to diet/growth-related disorders. In general, ortoises fed diets with meat/grain were heavier for their age than tortoises fed more appropriate diets; dietary history was not related to a particular disease.

Their retrospective study also could not provide direct evidence for a correlation of growth rates with growth diseases, including MBD or pyramiding or of the presence of pyramiding with disease and survival.

Diets and fast growth may be correlated to pyramiding or health issues, but obviously were not causative in the some of the studies. We need prospective controlled study to prove that. At least, Tom already showed us that hundreds of tortoises raised in closed chamber were doing well so far. That's is a fact that we should not ignore, unless Tom lied to us.

Erich
 

Testudoresearch

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paludarium said:
The study tried to compare growth rates in captive and wild tortoises, however it did not show adverse outcome of the fast growing captive individuals.

I think you must have missed this sentence:

"slow-growing animals are more likely to thrive after release into the wild"

I call that quite a significant adverse outcome.

paludarium said:
The authors published another study in 2012 Variation in growth and potentially associated health status in Hermann's and spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo hermanni and Testudo graeca). They did not find indication that animals particularly heavy for their age were more prone to diet/growth-related disorders. In general, ortoises fed diets with meat/grain were heavier for their age than tortoises fed more appropriate diets; dietary history was not related to a particular disease.

That paper concluded:

"growth-related disorders may well limit the life expectancy of tortoises"

They also did not conclude that rapid growth was not an issue. They simply tried to argue that body length (rather than weight) was a more useful measure.

That is just one paper.

There are multiple studies and reports on why accelerated growth rates are a high-risk strategy and demonstrating a whole catalog of negative side-effects. You do not even have to read these however - you just have to understand the basic biology involved and it is self-evident that it would have to be so. From achieving normal, healthy, bone growth to avoiding renal problems, to healthy liver function - if you 'overload' on growth, there are consequences. You do not get "something for nothing". There is a price to be paid.


Opinions on this?

highgrowthmarginata.jpg
 

julietteq

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I have 2 leo's who hatched 1 week apart. They come from the same breeder and have different mothers. One of them is quite dark (Taco) and the other one is relatively blond (marshmellow). They have been living on the same table, under the same lamps, same food. Within weeks the darker one of the two started to pyramid. I have been measuring the temperature of their carapace and Taco's temperature is in average 2 degrees F higher then Marshmellow due to the color difference of the caparpace I assume. The other difference between them is their growthrate. Taco eats significantly more then Marshmellow (I feed them together, but Taco just eats "longer" then Marshmellow) and is thus gaining more weight.

Taco MM
Oct 23, 2013 116 105
Oct 27, 2013 121 108
Oct 31, 2013 123 112
Nov 7, 2013 138 119
Nov 14, 2013 144 123
Nov. 20, 2013 153 130
Dec.4,2013 177 145
Dec 13, 2013 188 160

Summary: the tortoise who grows the fastest and is the warmest is pyramiding. The other one is not.
 

Yellow Turtle

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julietteq said:
Summary: the tortoise who grows the fastest and is the warmest is pyramiding. The other one is not.

My aldabra is black, which I believe much darker than your dark leopard. I soak him every morning under direct sunlight which is pretty hot for like 1 - 2 hours.

He eats a lot every day and should be more than any leopard his size can eat.

To summarize, he grows very fast and absorbs heat lightning fast due to his nature dark color. Well, I think I get lucky then that he still grows pretty smooth.
 

julietteq

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Yellow Turtle said:
julietteq said:
Summary: the tortoise who grows the fastest and is the warmest is pyramiding. The other one is not.

My aldabra is black, which I believe much darker than your dark leopard. I soak him every morning under direct sunlight which is pretty hot for like 1 - 2 hours.

He eats a lot every day and should be more than any leopard his size can eat.

To summarize, he grows very fast and absorbs heat lightning fast due to his nature dark color. Well, I think I get lucky then that he still grows pretty smooth.

I am not making any conclusions. Just stating my observations. Obviously it is only 2 torts and the results are not signifiant.
 

Yellow Turtle

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julietteq said:
I am not making any conclusions. Just stating my observations. Obviously it is only 2 torts and the results are not signifiant.

Please have no worry cause like I mention, I just feel lucky with my single aldabra.

Oh, maybe I should add up more since I also have a leopard, too. He gets the same daily care as my aldabra. He eats much less, grows significantly slower and still somehow pyramided.
 

Tom

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Does it not make sense that a young tortoise in favorable conditions, with good temps, hydration and a good weedy high fiber diet, is going to grow faster than its wild counterpart who is dealing with weather extremes, dodging predators all day, carrying a larger parasite load, and suffering from seasonal food shortages? It makes sense to me. Of course the captive is going to grow faster. This does not make it a bad thing. In fact it has proven to be a very good thing. Now if the accelerated growth is due to an inappropriate and possibly deleterious diet, or intentionally "power feeding", or intentionally keeping a given species, like testudo for example at high temperatures all the time, then I could see it as a problem. Painting any and all growth that is faster than what occurs in the wild as "bad" is ridiculous. If a sulcata is fed a good diet ("good" meaning lots of grazing on grasses, weeds, leaves and occasional succulents), kept well hydrated with available drinking water and soaks, and allowed to roam around in a large outdoor "natural" looking well planted enclosure, it WILL grow faster in captivity than in the wild, and I say this is in NO way bad or detrimental. What is bad is keeping hatchlings on dry substrate in a dry enclosure under hot bulbs and feeding them a poor diet of plain lettuce.


There are two factors that are being ignored here in all this discussion, at least by some people:

1. Captivity is NOT the wild. No matter what we do or don't understand about the wild, there are millions of factors and variables that cannot be known much less accounted or compensated for. No matter how much we think we know, simulating the Sahel in a North American backyard or British garden is not possible. We should all do our best to come as close as we can, but we must understand that some things are necessary and beneficial in captivity to make up for the things that we don't understand and cannot simulate about the wild. Having drinking water available every day is a good example. Its not "natural" for them to have this everyday in the wild, but that doesn't mean its "bad" for them in captivity.

2. A little box in a living room, while sometimes necessary, has its draw backs. lilcadragon's explanation of our available lighting options highlights this fact. It should be obvious that attempting to exactly duplicate "wild" temperatures and humidity in this decidedly "un-wild" situation using artificial electric heating and lighting equipment will not lead to good results. In the case of sulcatas and leopards we have 20+years of history to demonstrate this. There are things we can do to help mitigate the effects of our artificial indoor set ups. Things like maintaining higher humidity than what they might encounter every day in the wild and offering a humid hide box and shell spraying for the animal to escape the effects of our necessary desiccating light bulbs. Claims that doing these things are harmful are completely un-based, and reality has demonstrated otherwise with thousands of examples over many years now. Claiming that doing these things are "insane", is in fact insane, as they make perfect sense. Using "un-natural" captive techniques to counter "un-natural" captive shortcomings makes perfect sense, AND it works very well if done correctly. If you wish to build a dirt pile that is 4' tall, but your pile will start in a 2' hole, doesn't it makes sense that you will need 6' of dirt and not 4'? To make my analogy more clear, the 2' hole represents the desiccating heating elements that do not exist in the wild, but are necessary in our captive indoor environments. So yes, I do offer a humid hide with higher humidity than what my russian tortoises are likely to encounter in the wild every day. I do it because I also offer them a desiccating light bulb to warm up under when they are indoors, which they would also not encounter in the wild.

I tried to simulate wild conditions with my sulcatas for years and years. I studied everything I could find, talked to experts all over the globe and kept things as natural as possible. I used a lot of the techniques that Andy is advocating here to sell his new upcoming book. In fact my climate is pretty close to the Sahel for at least part of the year. The end result is that "natural" didn't work because even my 5 acre ranch in the country isn't "nature". Time showed me that certain elements, whether understood or not, could not be duplicated in our captive environments. I have looked at hundreds if not thousands of cases from friends, family, co-workers, people I meet out in the world and a large number of vets who treat tortoises and reptiles. Certain patterns are obvious and to ignore them makes no sense. When the "natural" methods failed me and everyone else I know time and time again, I began looking for solutions. I began studying the captive exceptions that grew well (in FL and Louisiana mostly). I began looking at the extreme cases of failure with the horrid malformed scutes. My tortoises grew very slowly, but still somewhat pyramided. Other examples were horribly pyramided. I looked and those examples and how they were housed and tried to discern what was different. In time, with lots of help, and many sources of info and discovery, I was able to figure out some techniques that worked well to counter the bad elements of our artificial environments. From the very beginning many protested that it was un-natural and that all sorts of bad things would happen. Bad things didn't happen. Good things happened. Then I did it again and again and again, and EVERY time, good things happened. Then other people started doing it, and good things happened for them too. I fact, I have yet to see any of the bad things that were supposed to happen, ever happen. In thousands of cases of people using these techniques, there has not been one case of the sky falling. This being the case, the nay-sayers are grasping at straws with the latest claim being that "while things SEEM okay now, we are doing damage that won't be seen for 15-20 years. This is absolute non-sense and has NO basis in fact, whatsoever. These claims are made with not one single examination of ANY of the tortoises that have benefitted from these new techniques. My challenge on this fact was completely ignored. I offered any of my animals up for examination and the offer was ignored. Not even addressed. Meanwhile, I am painted as an uneducated unscientific idiot, for not ignoring clear evidence right in front of my face, while the person painting the picture has NO evidence whatsoever to base his claims on. Yet Andy is going to sit here and continue peddling his wares and not addressing these valid points because, he claims, I questioned his integrity by asking him to explain the origin and history of two tortoises that he posted pics of. Laughable.
 

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Cowboy_Ken said:
Elohi said:
Contact the company and become the first US dealer. I can see those headlines already, “Stay at home mom become millionaire importing tortoise chow"

The pellets may contain viable seeds that the US agriculture dept is worried about.

I doubt this is any different than feeding ZooMed Grassland. Does European production make it better? I was quite satisfied with the ingredients in Grassland...I just found I got 'bigger, faster' results with Mazuri, hay and my lawn...replete with all the proper grasses, weeds, succulents...you get the picture. But I have opted to change up the lighting process...for necessary indoor husbandry. Andy's theories on environmental lighting and off-feeding days strike me as extremely feasible...so why not?!?!? Not too sure about some of the other banter...but baby steps will suffice, for now!
 

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Tom said:
In fact it has proven to be a very good thing.
I think you know my opinion on wild replication in captive environments so we won't go over that again.
BUT, that above is a very bold statement. What is your evidence of this proof that faster growth is definitely better?
Not slating you, but I cannot see how you can draw that conclusion.
 

lilacdragon

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Hi, DeanS.
I didn't know what either of these products were, so I looked them up.

This is ZooMed Grassland.
It's pelleted. How big are the pellets? Is this finely ground? It's hard to guess from the picture.
http://zoomed.com/db/products/EntryDetail.php?EntryID=228&DatabaseID=2&SearchID=5

This is Agrobs Pre-Alpin Testudo Fibre Tortoise Food.
It's rough-chopped dried material, with pieces that look about 1/2 to 1 inch long. (Check out the stuff in the transparent bags, in the smaller photos..)
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AGROBS-PRE-ALPIN-TESTUDO-FIBRE-TORTOISE-FOOD-250g-1-2-lb-8-8oz/301038928289

It depends how finely ground the pellets are, as to the comparative gut transition time, the gut flora produced, and the digestibility..... I would suspect that the rough-chopped stuff has very different characteristics, even if the weeds and hay it is made out of were to be identical.

Has anyone looked at this?

Frances
 

mikeh

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I too am very curious about this.
Below is an image of "dry" Zoomed grassland diet. Pellets size and crushed.
1387656387188.jpg


For comparison, here is a "dry" Mazuri tortoise diet (old formula) that is very popular among tortoise owners. Faster growth has been reported by number of people feeding Mazuri.
1387657162785.jpg
 
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Tom

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FLINTUS said:
What is your evidence of this proof that faster growth is definitely better?
Not slating you, but I cannot see how you can draw that conclusion.

Not saying faster growth is better. I'm saying that a good diet, sunshine exercise and hydration, is better than a lack of a good diet, sunshine, exercise and hydration, which would all contribute to slower growth.

I'm saying that growth rate doesn't matter. All the proper conditions matter. Health matters. Intentionally growing them slower by starving them, dehydrating them, and keeping them cold and dark throughout the year id just as bad as powerfeeding and intentionally trying to grow them fast.
 

Sulcata_Sandy

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I radiographed my 20 year old WC RF today. ImageUploadedByTortForum1387661648.115132.jpg

Guess I better call the person I got her from and ask if she's been exposed to males. [GRINNING FACE WITH SMILING EYES]

She is 11.5" and 8 lbs. I caught her nesting yesterday. Thoughts on her bone density?
INWILL get mynCB male imaged soon
 
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lilacdragon

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mikeh said:
I too am very curious about this.
Faster growth has been reported by number of people feeding Mazuri.

A quick search on Google and I found this:
Baer, D. J., Oftedal, O. T., Rumpler, W. V., & Ullrey, D. E. (1997). Dietary fiber influences nutrient utilization, growth and dry matter intake of green iguanas (Iguana iguana). The Journal of nutrition, 127(8), 1501-1507.
http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/127/8/1501.full

I'm not sure if it can be generalised to tortoises but if so, it would suggest a reason for the faster growth with Mazuri.

I am not happy with promoting un-naturally fast growth as something to aim for. It's difficult enough to provide a baby creature with all it needs to grow at a normal rate (just think about rickets re-emerging in human children, in some of the best-fed and best-educated nations worldwide...) and maxing out the growth rate seems like chancing fate to me...
I've no doubt it can be done with no obvious ill effects by some experienced keepers. But since advice on forums is always going to be taken up and followed blindly by many people less dedicated and less well informed than the regular readers of the forum, I think it always has to err on the side of caution.

Frances
 

Testudoresearch

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DeanS said:
I doubt this is any different than feeding ZooMed Grassland. Does European production make it better?


It is totally different. Simply no comparison. The Zoomed is a highly processed product that contains wheat and soy byproducts, in addition to numerous other artificial ingredients:

"Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Whole Ground Wheat"

These are not appropriate. The ingredient list reads like a chemical plant inventory....

"Suncured Oat Hay, Suncured Timothy Hay, Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Suncured Alfalfa Meal, Whole Ground Wheat, Escarole, Endive, Calcium Carbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Yeast Culture, Dandelion Greens (dried), Sodium Bicarbonate, Soy Lecithin, Direct-Fed Microorganisms (heat stable cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Enterococcus faecium, Aspergillus oryzae), Yeast Extract, Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate, Garlic Extract, Anise Extract, Cassia Extract (Chinese), Ginger Extract, Horseradish Extract, Juniper Extract, Natural Flavoring, Marigold (petal extract), Yucca schidigera (whole plant powder), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of stabilized Vitamin C), Zinc Methionine Complex, Selenium Yeast, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Lecithin, Silicon Dioxide, Choline Chloride, Vitamin A Supplement (Retinyl Acetate), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate (source of Vitamin B5), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Tribasic Copper Chloride, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite"

The Agrob products are - most importantly - cereal free without these spurious additives. The phytic acid content of Zoomed is of concern. If highly fermentable sugars and starches are added to a mix already inadequate in particle size, the digestion will accelerate rapidly. Unfortunately, many pelleted foods are extremely poor performers in this regard as they typically include a high proportion of starch-rich food industry by-products such as corn (maize) meal, soya derivatives, oats and other grain-based ingredients.

Rapid growth is not a model or measure of success, for the reasons Frances highlights.


lilacdragon said:
It depends how finely ground the pellets are, as to the comparative gut transition time, the gut flora produced, and the digestibility..... I would suspect that the rough-chopped stuff has very different characteristics, even if the weeds and hay it is made out of were to be identical.

Has anyone looked at this?

Yes, in some detail. The raw ingredients are entirely different and the manufacturing process is also entirely different. The fibres of the Agrob product are much less "disturbed" and are far longer than in the Zoomed product. The digestibility profile is different. I feel the Agrob is the best product so far available for herbivorous reptiles.

While it is the case that on the surface pelleted foods may appear to be an attractive means of providing dried vegetation to captive tortoises, most - as noted - fail in a number of critical respects. The development of pelleted foods that include a high proportion of very long fibres, coarse, large particles and an appropriate protein and trace-element content should not be impossible, however. Some commercial manufacturers have already moved in that direction (Pro-Alpin and Pre-Alpin Testudo). These products are unusual in that they include a much broader diversity of plant species than typical mass-produced pellet feeds, and they omit the potentially very damaging grain and maize-based derivatives included in most other commercial offerings. They also have crude fibre and protein levels that more closely approximate that of the typical wild diet.

I do feel that promoting high growth rates is an extremely outmoded husbandry objective. It was a popular concept 30 or more years ago. Things have moved on in reptile nutrition, and overly-simplistic, flawed views such as "faster, bigger = better" really should be combined to history. What we should be aiming at is achieving healthy growth as measured by bone mineral density and other reliable markers.
 

Levi the Leopard

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I'm not aware of anyone that is promoting high growth rates.
I know my leopards grow "faster" because they are well fed and properly hydrated but the speed in which they grow has never been my focus, let alone something I promote.
 

paludarium

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Testudoresearch said:
paludarium said:
The study tried to compare growth rates in captive and wild tortoises, however it did not show adverse outcome of the fast growing captive individuals.

I think you must have missed this sentence:

"slow-growing animals are more likely to thrive after release into the wild"

I call that quite a significant adverse outcome.

paludarium said:
The authors published another study in 2012 Variation in growth and potentially associated health status in Hermann's and spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo hermanni and Testudo graeca). They did not find indication that animals particularly heavy for their age were more prone to diet/growth-related disorders. In general, ortoises fed diets with meat/grain were heavier for their age than tortoises fed more appropriate diets; dietary history was not related to a particular disease.

That paper concluded:

"growth-related disorders may well limit the life expectancy of tortoises"

They also did not conclude that rapid growth was not an issue. They simply tried to argue that body length (rather than weight) was a more useful measure.

That is just one paper.

There are multiple studies and reports on why accelerated growth rates are a high-risk strategy and demonstrating a whole catalog of negative side-effects. You do not even have to read these however - you just have to understand the basic biology involved and it is self-evident that it would have to be so. From achieving normal, healthy, bone growth to avoiding renal problems, to healthy liver function - if you 'overload' on growth, there are consequences. You do not get "something for nothing". There is a price to be paid.


Opinions on this?

highgrowthmarginata.jpg



Here are 2 prospective studies that began with the hatchlings or neonate for a few years.

Growth and body composition in captive Testudo graeca terrestris fed with a high-energy diet. The diet in the study was exclusively composed from a commercial canned, vitamin-enriched cat food(Tuffy’s, Heinz Pet Products, Kentucky, USA). 78 g of cat food was blended with22 g starch (corn flour), to dilute the excess protein with a high carbohydrate. However, the breeding activity was attained at about 170 wk in males and 230 wk (4 years) in females. The authors concluded that growth and maturity were highly accelerated in Testudo graeca terrestris, without symptoms of disease, by providing them with a high energy protein-balanced diet.

Assessment of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry for use in evaluating the effects of dietary and environmental management on Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni). The neonates kept in group 1 housed in an artificial setting and fed naturally growing vegetation were prone to develop pyramiding than group 2 housed housed in an artificial setting and fed vegetables grown for human consumption. The natural-housed control group had the shell with the lowest BMD(bone mineral density). The difference in BMD of captive-raised tortoises and control tortoises in the study could have been secondary to the environment, apart from the diet. In the authors’ opinion, the environment may have been responsible for the variations in BMD in 2 ways. The authors also speculated that excess calcium in Hermann’s tortoises is primarily deposited in the carapace bones. This exaggerated deposition could result in pathological morphological consequences (ie, pyramidal growth).

So, what were roles of animal matters or high protein and the vegetables for humans in the above prospective studies that have been conducted for more than 2 years on the neonates? To promote pyramiding?

IMHO, the tortoises in our enclosures were no more wild animals but pets, unless we leave the tortoises alone in their own habitats and they make their own living, nothing is natural, even in the well equipped zoos or breeding centers. Human beings intended to breed animals for dozens of reasons, e.g. for the appearances (smooth shells or brilliant colors) and for more offsprings to sell or to eat. Tom has showed us a way to raise tortoises with minimal pyramiding, and I accepted it.

Erich
 

Dizisdalife

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Testudoresearch said:
I do feel that promoting high growth rates is an extremely outmoded husbandry objective. It was a popular concept 30 or more years ago. Things have moved on in reptile nutrition, and overly-simplistic, flawed views such as "faster, bigger = better" really should be combined to history. What we should be aiming at is achieving healthy growth as measured by bone mineral density and other reliable markers.

I agree with Heather in that I have not seen anyone promoting high growth rate as a sign of good husbandry, or tortoise health in general. Often it is mentioned that one should not be overly concerned if their pet is growing faster (or slower) than someone else's tortoise.
How would I as a keeper of a single sulcata measure bone mineral density? Is this something that my local reptile Vet could do for me, and how often should it be done?
 
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