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Early Signs Of Pyramiding?

pyramiding diet baby humidity

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#1 Anisha

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:33 AM

Hi everyone, 

 
I'm a bit worried about my tortoise Titus. He's a 7 months old Hermann's, and I'm a bit concerned he might be showing early signs of pyramiding. 
 
The patterns on his shell are slightly raised as per the pics. Not sure if I'm being paranoid or not. Any ideas? 
 
He lives in a wooden tortoise table, on a mixture of sand and sterilised top soil. It's 6 foot by 2 foot, and he has houses and plants to hide under, as well as a heat lamp. 
 
He eats once a day, either dandilion leaves, lambs lettuce, gem lettuce or leaves from the florette crispy salad bags, and has Nutrobal once or twice a week on his lunch. I bath him every 1 - 2 days. 
 
Any thoughts much appreciated! Thank you!
 

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#2 pompeypoole

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 01:11 PM

How much are you feeding him. How much does he wiegh.

#3 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 05:04 PM

Yes he is showing early signs of pyramiding. What temps and humidity are you using? I would supplement a growing tortoise daily to aid strong bone growth. Is the substrate very dry and does he dig down at night? Do you have pics of his underneath/ plastron?

#4 Anisha

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 11:03 AM

Thanks for getting back to me both - worried to hear that he is showing signs but will do whatever it takes to make it right.

 

I feed him once a day, usually a few leaves, and he normally eats what I put in within 1/2 hour. He would definitely eat more if I put it in, he's very greedy. 

 

He weighs 65g, and is growing quickly. Should I not be feeding him every day? I hear so much conflicting advice!

 

Temps wise, he has a heat lamp that keeps the spot underneath at around 30 - 35 degrees. The rest of the enclosure is at room temperature, and he has two boxes to hide under. I've just switched from a normal UV lamp to an Arcadia Mercury UVB UVA lamp. 

 

I'm not sure about humidity. Is there a way to monitor this?

 

He does dig down at night, usually in one of his houses. The substrate is quite dry, but today I've started to wet it using a spray bottle. Is this the right course of action?

 

Sorry to pick your brains so much, I'm a new owner and want to get it right!

 

Many, many thanks both, 

 

Anisha



#5 Anisha

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 11:09 AM

I've attached a picture of his enclosure, and his plastron here (I've discovered that he does NOT like being turned on his back !!)

 

Any thoughts?

 

Many thanks! We love him very much, so anything you can offer as help is much appreciated. 

 

Will he recover from his early pyramiding if we can change whatever is causing it? 

 

 

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#6 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 11:36 AM

Hi there

 

low humidity especially at night is factor in pyramiding. Humidity can easily be measured with a hygrometer and you don't have to spend a lot of money on one. I like the hair hygrometers which don't need batteries and start at about £10.

 

Like these: http://www.thermomet...air-hygrometers

 

You can also get small digital hygrometers which are about the same price and have a battery. They are popular but less accurate.

 

Raising humidity in the air in an open enclosure is not easy inside your home.

 

What I do is to have a lot of depth of substrate and pour water on it - quite a lot. If the tortoise has a plastic hide the humidity rises in it and the tortoise shuld be encouraged to go into it at night. The plastic retains the moisture - something like an empty margarine tub with a hole for a door works really well with a small tortoise.

 

Some keepers worry about their tortoise being cold and wet on a damp substrate but in my opinion this is not going to happen inside your home.

 

In my experience not all tortoises will bury down at night no matter what we offer them. It would probably be better for them if they did, because they would then be surrounded by the damp substrate. Make sure your substrate is not compacted.

 

The night time humidity under the plastic box should be something like 60%+

 

Changing the humidity in the air above the substrate is very difficult unless that air is enclosed in some way. Otherwise the water content is rapidly absorbed by the large volume of air in the room. That moisture does not hang about just above the surface of the substrate.

 

Another factor in low humidity is the drying effect of heat and UV lamps. Nothing can be done about that with existing technology - except of course to get the tortoise outside when this is practicable.

 

Pyramiding does not go away but you can stop it getting worse by raising night time humidity. With simple pyramiding the tortoise is not unwell in any way and it is a cosmetic thing that doesn't make any difference to the tortoise. But it does reflect that conditions were not quite right. MBD is a different thing and causes a permanent disability in bad cases.

 

Not everyone will agree with everything I have written here and that is to be expected. Don't rely on only one source of information. These are my views which are based on lots of reading on the internet and keeping tortoises myself. Individual tortoises are different and some of them seem to grow smoother than others in the same conditions.

 

Don't be hard on yourself as you are doing the best you can.



#7 pompeypoole

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 12:25 PM

He does seem to be heavy for his age. I have a few at a similar age and they weigh 20 grams. I think with time you get to know how mich to feed. They will eat as much as you let them. Weigh him weekly and you will have a good indication of how much he is gaining and then you can adjust his food accordingly.

#8 crotchetybear

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 01:54 PM

Hi,

My youngsters were already 70g when I got them at four months old, which I soon learned was way bigger than they should be so don't panic. You can't undo the early growth spurt but you can control weight gain from now on. Aim for approx 3-4g a month. As you've found out, they will eat as much as you put in front of them. I feed mine daily - but sparingly - and supplement with calcium daily.

As regards humidity, mine are kept on topsoil, about 3" deep which I water generously around the edges (so it seeps underneath) every other day. I've never gone to the trouble of monitoring with a hygrometer, although there's no reason you shouldn't. I tend to take the view that sticking your finger into the substrate will tell you whether it's damp underneath or not. Of course, you do need to ensure your enclosure has a watertight liner.

The substrate will be drier near the lamp so I'd move the hides away towards the other end of the enclosure. That way the substrate underneath is likely to remain damper which will be better for him/her. And keep up the baths.

Ideally, your tortoise should be in a safe enclosure outside once the weather is warm enough.

Hope this helps.

Chris

#9 Anisha

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 02:10 PM

Thank you everyone, this is all really useful. The enclosure is lined with a pond liner, so watering the edges sounds like a really good idea, I will do that.

 

...and he's on a diet!



#10 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 02:26 PM

Thanks for getting back to me both - worried to hear that he is showing signs but will do whatever it takes to make it right.
 
I feed him once a day, usually a few leaves, and he normally eats what I put in within 1/2 hour. He would definitely eat more if I put it in, he's very greedy. 
 
He weighs 65g, and is growing quickly. Should I not be feeding him every day? I hear so much conflicting advice!
 
Temps wise, he has a heat lamp that keeps the spot underneath at around 30 - 35 degrees. The rest of the enclosure is at room temperature, and he has two boxes to hide under. I've just switched from a normal UV lamp to an Arcadia Mercury UVB UVA lamp. 
 
I'm not sure about humidity. Is there a way to monitor this?
 
He does dig down at night, usually in one of his houses. The substrate is quite dry, but today I've started to wet it using a spray bottle. Is this the right course of action?
 
Sorry to pick your brains so much, I'm a new owner and want to get it right!
 
Many, many thanks both, 
 
Anisha


If he is eating all in half an hour he's nothaving to work hard enough to find it Anisha. Try spreading it around the enclosure making it difficult to find, just as in nature and never hand it to him on aplate, so to speak. This way he will be exercising essential muscles as well as feeding, just as they have evolved to do. Don't worry about measuring humidity, it's not an exact science ;) so long as his temps drop at night and he has either dug down or been buried by you, he will be humid enough.min russian tortoise burrows humidity often approaches100% overnight, but daytime levels are very low. Yes, feed him daily, just not so much. If you weigh him monthly this is the best way to see if you are overfeeding or not. Spray bottles don't work as they wet the top of the substrate, where it is underground that needs to be damp not the surface. In a house environment spraying is lost to evaporation almost immediately. Underneath my sig is a link to how I keep mine. Good Luck ;)

#11 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 05:21 PM

Hi Anisha
I hope you don't mind me saying but he's not a Hermanns he's a Testudo graeca. I did wonder from your first pic, but knew a plastron pic would show for sure. Do you have a certificate for him? It's odd because there was another case a couple of months back. Did you get him from a breeder?

#12 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 05:47 PM

Hi again

 

I know Sue agrees that the Tortoise Trust is a good source of info. :happy:  Let's have a look at what they say about the causes of pyramiding:

 

http://www.tortoiset...pyramiding.html

 

The bottom line of the research is "  incorrect diet, specifically by high protein, high energy and calcium deficient diets;

The abnormal growth is caused by lack of humidity or by general dehydration or both."  (Sorry I can't turn off the bold on that pasted text)

 

When we are speaking about high protein diets here, it means tortoise pellet diets, dog and cat food etc. Any weed diet is low protein unless it contains huge amounts of leguminous plants such as clovers. Calcium intake wouldn't seem to be an issue here because of the use of a supplement.

 

General dehydration means the tortoise doesn't have access to a water dish or chooses not to drink because of some health problem.

 

My view is that with the right humidity and access to drinking water there isn't a risk of pyramiding on a weed diet, since it is low protein and this view fits with the research.

 

If something is important to tortoise husbandry and easy and cheap to measure, like humidity, I say it's worth measuring if there might be a problem. Got to be better than guesswork :laugh: !

 

I think Sue and I are agreed :winkgrin:  that night time humidity is more important than daytime and that in the day the wild environment of the Med tortoise is generally dry. And burying the tortoise at night in a damp substrate would for sure raise the humidity to a good level. Of course if you bury it, it might just come right back up :rolleyes:  unless it's asleep already.

 

Sue and I also agree that a spray with a water bottle is a waste of time.

 

Since I've made a big statement there about 'overfeeding' I am starting a separate post about that, as it's not relevant to this thread (in my opinion).

 

Barney



#13 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 06:07 PM

Hi Barney
Can I just say that ALL of the info I post is based on my own research of over thirty years and not taken from snippets here and there and certainly not guess work, nowhere do I state that the Mediterranean terrain is generally dry. If you had studied tortoises in the wild over just one 24,hour period you would find this isn't the case. Please do not quote me or make assumptions as to what I am thinking.
Years ago after liaising with a certain German lady I made a few statements regarding the connection between pyramiding and humidity. I was actually bold enough to mention this on the TT forum, where I was shot down in flames with cries of 'no evidence to substantiate the claim' etc etc When mentioned that the evidence was there in my own hatchlings I was called silly, amongst other things. Very strange to see now that the very people who disagreed so strongly, now have evidence to support the theory based on their own research!
I'll not go into great detail, other than to reiterate that my info is based on my own findings as mentioned on my website and hopefully shortly forthcoming book. I think it only fair when using snippets of info from other places that credit is given to the original writer. There is lots of great info out there, but credit does need to be given to the authors in a properly highlighted text, if not just because of good manners, then to respect copyright issues.
Hopefully we can move on from this issue and just advise people to the best of our experiences, without appearing to make a game of what is after all a serious issue.
Sorry folks for the long spiel.

#14 pompeypoole

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 06:26 PM

Sue, "forthcoming book". I am always keen to see your posts and so I for one would love to read a book that you have written.

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 06:48 PM

Sue you did write that Russian tortoises burrows have very low humidity during the day.  There isn't any difference in what we are saying about daytime humidity as far as I can see but correct me if I'm mistaken. 

 

You also said that the keeper shouldn't bother measuring humidity which is why I suggested you were advocating guesswork. I'm not sure where I was wrong there - if it's not measured I thought it had to be guesswork. Is there an alternative?

 

I haven't suggested at any time that any of your work with tortoises was guesswork and the only time I used that word was specific to that keeper knowing something about the humidity in their enclosure.

 

That sounds awful if you were called silly on the tortoise trust forum but I can assure you I had nothing to do with it and have never had an account on there. I'm not sure what parts of the TT article you don't agree with. It sounds like you were years ahead of them. That article is what they were saying in 2010.

 

You have taken me to task for not referencing everything in my post but I don't see any references in yours at all.

 

Perhaps you are right that this one has out-lived its usefulness.



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Posted 10 April 2015 - 06:57 PM

Sue, "forthcoming book". I am always keen to see your posts and so I for one would love to read a book that you have written.


Just need a bit more advice on publishing, but otherwise almost ready to go, just need to find the time lol. As I only use my own research and experience though, you might not find a lot more than is in the website ;)

#17 vikki01

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 08:58 PM

With regards him not being a Hermann - Have a look at the post titled "Is Herbie a Hermann?" - I am Herbies owner and the person Sue refers to above. I would be interested to know if there is a link but don't post the breeders personal details on the public forum - you can send a private message or just give a general area and I can let you know if they may be from the same place :) It is all sortable if like me you don't really mind what species you have and the paperwork is a bit of hassle with Defra but I now have a certificate saying his correct species etc. My main priority was and is that Herbie is happy and healthy and he is a great little character :happy:



#18 Anisha

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 03:36 PM

HI everyone, 

 

Again, thank you for all the useful information . I have taken the advise of deepening his substrate, and keeping it damp at all times. I think this is the likely source of the problem - I've done lots of research into his diet and (although I am feeding him less that before) I suspect it is more likely to be associated with humidity, because having read information on all these responses, I think that is where I have definitely been going wrong so far. 

 

I'll continue to weigh him though, can't hurt. 

 

Sue, regarding the breed - that does come as a big surprise! My partner bought him for me from a breeder and he did come with a certificate, which I've double checked now and it definitely states that he is a "testudo hermanni", common name "Hermanns Tortoise" !

 

In reality I don't mind what breed he is, much like you Vikki, although it would be useful to know if this effects how I should be caring for him? Vikki - I will message you separately with the details of where he came from. 

 

Many thanks for all the help!



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Posted 11 April 2015 - 03:49 PM

No it's no surprise that he has wrong papers, but you do need to get them changed with DEFRA, as if at some time in the future you need proof of ownership you've not really got it. The person selling him has committed a serious offence here as both hermanns and graecas are on the endangered list and so they must have correct papers. Is he microchipped? Care is exactly the same for both species ( torts don't come in breeds luckily) so that's not a problem, but do get his papers sorted in time for the possible new laws involving reptile keeping.

#20 Anisha

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 04:08 PM

Thanks Sue, all very useful information. He's not microchipped yet, as we were recommended to do that once he was older, but I will certainly look at getting his papers changed. 







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