Jump to content


- - - - -

Overfeeding?


  • Please log in to reply
21 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 10 April 2015 - 06:25 PM

Hello all

 

I think it would be good to have a little discussion here about overfeeding since it seems to be something that a lot of us are concerned about.

 

A weed-only diet is low in protein unless it contains a lot of leguminous plants such as clovers - and I mean a lot. As far as I can find out all the other things we would feed on a weed diet are low protein. Other leguminous plants that are not suitable for tortoises and have relatively a lot of protein are peas and beans, beansprouts etc. I don't think any of us feed these.

 

Apart from leguminous plants, high protein diets for a tortoise might be 'tortoise pellets', dog and cat food, meat, dairy products e.g. cheese. With the exception of 'tortoise pellets' I don't think any of us would even think about feeding any of that list.

 

Many of us have noticed that hermanns will eat things such as slugs and earthworms if they get the chance. This is because they are always on the lookout for protein which is very hard to find in the natural habitat. But it's not good for them to have much of it.

 

It is excess protein that can cause the wrong kind of growth in tortoises and other things that are found in plants don't do that. An excess of iron or other minerals does not cause 'too fast' growth and pyramiding but it can be harmful in other ways.

 

So I'm not suggesting there can never be any kind of problem caused by over feeding but if it is a weed diet low in protein then it can't cause 'too fast' growth. 

 

I don't want to plaster this post with links to the tortoise trust or anywhere else but I do not get these ideas out of thin air. :winkgrin:

 

My other issue is with the idea of a fixed number of grammes being OK but above that is wrong. I have three reasons for this - please allow me to explain.

 

The first one is very simple. If a tortoise weighs 30g and gains 3g in a month then it has gained 10%. If this went on every month I think we would all agree that is not a good thing. But if the tortoise weighs 300g then it only gains 1% if the weight goes up by 3g. That would seem to be fine. So to my way of thinking, this fixed number of grammes is not useful at all, we would need a % weight gain as a guide. 

 

The second reason that I don't agree with a fixed amount is that tortoises, like human beings, can have natural growth spurts as a normal part of their development. Would we want to stop that? I don't think we should.

 

Thirdly I find the weight of my hermanns seems to follow something of a pattern. There seems to be a peak weight in the year in late summer regardless of hibernation. Tortoises that are over wintered often seem to gain little if any weight but they do vary a lot.

 

In my opinion, there is a lot going on with tortoises gaining weight that is quite separate from how much food they get. I don't think it is a good idea to disregard all these other factors and make a fixed allowance for weight gain and that if something happens outside that then there must be a problem.

 

I agree with taking regular weights on a monthly basis so that we can see what is going on but I think that is only part of the story. In another thread, a keeper was concerned about the appearance of the growth. If the growth had been perfectly smooth I don't think any of us would be having an issue with the weight gain and probably the keeper wouldn't even know it was going on. 

 

Thanks for reading and I'm ready to take it on the chin :cool:  in terms of your replies because this post flies in the face of a lot of the views expressed on this forum. But please can you provide me with reasons why I may be mistaken. I could easily be wrong but I would want to understand why I am wrong.  :wink:

 

Barney

 



#2 Guest_Stella_*

Guest_Stella_*
  • Guests

Posted 11 April 2015 - 06:14 PM

Barney, I have a real problem with 'what is over feeding'!! I can understand not feeding the types of things you mention, but when fed weeds and garden plants suitable for tortoise food, the amounts to give have never really been specified. For example, some say 'as much as can cover the torts plastron', others say leave 20 mins and then remove surplus, other say feed until they stop! What would be the right way. So my question would be 'what is over feeding?'

I also don't really understand the 'right weight for the age of the tort'. Another example I can give is with the babes I helped hatch. I must say these are HTB, .... Some were (from what I understand) quite large at 18/20gms. Others were considered small weighing in at 8/10 grams. Now I have posted in the past when weight has been mentioned and been told that this all balances out as time goes on.....as in human babies. However, as with my varied weights in human babies, my hatchlings have continued to maintain the different weight difference as the months have progressed. On the information I was given, either the lighter babes would have to increase their weight drastically, or the larger ones loose weight just as drastically. So how can it be appropriate that when someone posts they have a tort of a set age and weight, people can say it is over/under weight. This confuses me.

As regards a perfectly smooth shell.... I have a theory.......I have the honour of owning four torts I refer to 'garden tortoises', and by this I mean they were brought into this country in the 1950's, I presume as adults and as was tortoise husbandry back then most tortoises were left in the garden without specific lighting and feeding!! I know this as my grandfather and dad kept tortoises and this was how they were kept. Their shells are very smooth. Now I know people may argue that as adults when caught and shipped go England their shells were probably already formed, but I have always wondered if the pyramiding we see is more a consequence of UV from a bulb held above the tort than anything else. The reason I am thinking this is because as a garden Tortoise the UV from the sun hits the tortoise from all directions as it wanders around outside.

And.....I am sorry this is a long post...... Could pyramiding or MBD be a generic thing...... The reason I asked is that I rehomed two tortoises a long time ago, both kept outside and in the same conditions. One has a very deformed shell........ The other although not perfectly smooth, and looks much better. I cannot understand how very different they are. X x x hugs x x x

#3 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*
  • Guests

Posted 11 April 2015 - 11:56 PM

There is no set amount to feed a tortoise, as all foods will differ in density, fibre etc etc The only way to know if a tortoise is feeding properly is to weigh it regularly. If we accept that the growth rate of the wild tortoise is correct growth, then to follow that growth pattern in captive tortoises is relatively easy.
Wild tortoises have a tiny lighter coloured growth band around the perimeter of the scutes. This is a very fine line as though drawn with a hard pencil. If we allow growth to excess, then a much wider band will appear, which will also contribute to a thickened, more porous shell.
Most of the tortoises brought into the country in the 50s were already adult or well on the way to becoming adult, so the pattern of growth was already set, meaning that most old tortoises we see today are not that way because of anything that happened to them after importation, but because they grew up in the Med.
Baby tortoise weights do even out eventually. A ten gram hatchling is not going to become a small adult any more than a 20 gram one is going to become a giant. Of course if these babies are kept together and free fed, then the big ones are going to grow faster because they are stronger. In the wild, they would go their separate ways and so not have this competition. There is no set age/ weight ratio in captive tortoises, only wild ones.
It's a very dangerous assumption, that not giving extra heat will result in a smoother tortoise, as not allowing them to reach their optimum core temp will result in poor digestion and therefore a slow deterioration in health, hence the old saying that it can take twenty or thirty years to kill a captive tortoise. Many people kept torts in the fifties and a high percentage of these died within thirty years, whereupon the owner assumed it was old age, not knowing how old the tortoises were on importation from the wild. Because they did not die in their first years, people assumed they must have been doing the right thing. The tortoises that have survived for longer than usual have been lucky enough to have had good sun positioning in their gardens along with good drainage, available weeds and shelter. It is impossible for them to adapt to this country as they are cold blooded and will always need to reach good core temps in order to thrive. If they could adapt, we would have wild populations, which so far has not happened here.
If pyramiding and MBD was generic, we would see it in the wild. The only cases of pyramided Med torts in the wild as far as I know are those taking advantage of farmers crops and even then it is not the same type as seen in incorrectly kept Captive tortoises. Shell deformities can be generic, which is a different thing. I have one which produces similarly shelled babies, but this is different to pyramiding that develops as they grow, this is always due to husbandry issues. A tortoise with an inherited she'll deformity is usually as healthy as it's perfectly shelled siblings. We shouldn't assume that pyramiding and MBD are the same thing, they can be poles apart.

#4 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 01:05 AM

I agree with almost everything in your post Sue but there are a couple of things I'm not quite clear on. If we weigh the tortoise regularly (which I agree is a good idea) what is the amount of weight increase that you believe is suitable? As I said in my post at the top, a monthly amount of grammes is not helpful in my view because of the point I made about the total weight of the tortoise depending on it's size.

 

So if a 500g gains 3g in a month (every month) it's a small weight gain but if a 30g little one gains 3g every month then it's a huge amount. Can you suggest a percentage perhaps for hatchlings, juveniles and so on? This would help I think to make the weighing most meaningful. With adults we're presumably not expecting any gain over the long term, but there are still seasonal fluctuations which is going to confuse the picture and even more with hatchlings and juveniles.

 

Examining the growth makes a lot of sense to me but must require quite a practiced eye, and if it's too thick a line then you might say we're too late already.

 

My other question is about the basis that the growth of wild tortoises is the guide to healthy captive growth. We know that in the Med countries there might easily be 12 or even more hours of sunshine in the height of summer and from quite early in the day it gets very hot. Too hot for tortoise activity and they are hiding away a lot of the time. Feeding is in the morning before it gets too hot and then maybe late afternoon. The amount of hours during the summer when the tortoise has the chance to look for food and is at feeding temperature as well must be quite limited. We know that temperatures at ground level can get way above 50C by 11 in the morning. And of course in some places the tortoises are buried for weeks maybe months at a time. None of this is happening in a UK garden.

 

I might suggest that UK conditions, when supported by coldframes and supplementary heating on a thermostat etc, produces a situation that is more optimal for tortoise growth than it is in the wild. The UK tortoise might be active and at the right temperature to eat for a much longer period of time daily and it doesn't have to take weeks or months off in the summer due to an excess of heat. This might mean that it could grow more quickly and that in those conditions this might mean that it was sort of natural for it to do that - in those conditions.

 

I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't try to make the environment similar to the natural one up to a point. But I don't think we would be trying to create true Med conditions in terms of temperatures. It isn't actually necessary because those conditions at times are not in fact beneficial for tortoises but they have found a way of dealing with it over many thousands of years. We don't tell people to make sure it is too hot for the tortoise to be out and about by 11 in the morning.

 

This might apply even more to indoor tortoises. Personally I don't think hermann tortoises should be kept indoors in the summer but the reality is that some of them are. They are being kept with a hotspot of 32C plus with 20C ambient temperatures for 14 hours a day. This gives them a greatly increased span of time during which the conditions are favourable for eating and growing. If the right humidity is provided and they have access to drinking water and are well hydrated it might be fine for them to be growing faster than the wild ones. In the artificial conditions we're producing, it might be 'natural' for them to grow at a faster rate, because it's a bit like constant Med spring conditions.

 

We're also mostly feeding weeds with a water content that is much higher than wild foods except in spring. This stuff doesn't stay in the gut as long. This is bound to complicate matters.

 

The other thing is that I think tortoises can have growth spurts like lots of other animals do. I've seen lots of keepers say they have observed this, and the conditions are not being changed to cause it. This faster growth period might be fine and I don't know how we could separate that out.

 

My personal belief is that too low humidity (especially at night) and dehydration are the main factors in pyramiding if it's a weed diet. If a captive tortoise grows faster than a wild one this might be OK if it's smooth and even growth taking place under conditions of good overnight humidity and a hydrated tortoise. 

 

Another factor in poor quality growth is definitely to do with electric lamps of different sorts. At least, that is what Andy has concluded after doing a lot of research and he put out a paper recently on this. These gadgets have an effect on the shell which is different to what the sun does - that's the main finding. All of which suggests that we should get these tortoises outside as much as possible, consistent with the tortoise being warm so that's functions work properly.

 

And on that point, as you said the other night - it must be time for me to go to bed! :)



#5 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 09:24 AM

A weight chart can only be a guide. For example if a hatchling is gaining around 2-3 grams per month, this can be deemed to be acceptable and in line with wild growth, whereas 10 grams per month is going to be above and beyond this amount, likely causing keratin stress and depending on the diet given, pyramiding and other deformities. We need to remember that we can't see what is happening in the inside, just the outward appearance. As mentioned, the optimum growth level can be seen by observing the width of the growth band, again in line with wild growth.
I'm somewhat shocked to see that you feel you can improve on nature with polytunnels etc. tortoises have been around for millions of years, with no help to Mother Nature and I've yet to see a wild one resembling the growth patterns so often seen in captive torts.
To reply to your whole post Barney would be to write another flipping essay which I don't feel is appropriate to the forum.
Can I ask how long you have been keeping torts and if your statements are related to your findings, or if you are just doing a lot of reading and basing your theories on this comprehension.
I don't see you posting on other forums, but would like to see other responses to your suggestions. As most of your posts seem to be directed to myself, would it not be polite to do this in a PM. My email address is wizzasmum@aol.com
Sorry to go a little Off topic here, but I do think the forum which has a lot of new keepers is being bombarded with a little too much information for what they are looking for.

#6 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 10:14 AM

No I'm not getting into the private message area at all and I don't need to reveal anything. This is the internet :winkgrin:  I haven't mentioned polytunnels at any time! :)

 

The posts are not directed at you at all, especially not this whole thread which was intended, like it says, to start a discussion about this idea of over feeding. Because it is a subject that comes up a lot and yes it turns out that you always have something to say on the subject which is fine.

 

If you decide not to get involved in discussing it that is of course entirely up to you.

 

If other folks on the forum don't want to read longer posts then I'm sure they won't read them. I am not about to stop doing it on your suggestion and your status on this forum is the same as mine. It doesn't say anywhere that we are only allowed to do one-liners. :happy:



#7 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 10:24 AM

Fair enough, just that at the beginning you did address it to myself and continued to ask questions addressed to myself. My mistake if these were not intended for me. I have never suggested that my status is anything other than ordinary.

#8 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 11:48 AM

For clarification for anyone else who might be following this, I did not say that humans can improve on what nature does. I think Sue misunderstood me there. I pointed out that with the best will in the world we are not creating wild conditions or anything like it. This might mean that the growth rate of wild tortoises is not the golden rule for captive tortoises in the UK, where their environment is very different. 

 

I think it's a pity that Sue decided not to get into the discussion about these questions because it might have been useful.  :(

 

To be honest with you all I'm not finding it very friendly to be constantly asked what my qualifications are, how many tortoises I've got, how long I have been keeping them, why Sue can't find evidence of me on other tortoise forums, and why don't we go somewhere else to have the discussion. I'd prefer to stick with the actual questions about tortoises!  :)



#9 Kelly

Kelly

    Advanced Tortoise Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 961 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Leicestershire
  • Interests:Walking, circuit training, reading, volunteering with The Leicester and Rutland Wildlife Trust and looking after my menagerie of 3 cats, a leopard gecko, a 23 year old corn snake, Maddie the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, my 5 year old Hermann tortoise, Norman and my 2 year old, Hazel. :)

Posted 12 April 2015 - 04:50 PM

Can we please keep to the topic and keep things friendly.  A bit of debate is brilliant, but when things start to get personal and insulting I will have no option but remove posts or issue warning points where necessary.

 

  :thanks:



#10 vikki01

vikki01

    Tortoise Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 90 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Gloucester
  • Interests:Animals
    Countryside
    Walking
    Reading

Posted 12 April 2015 - 06:08 PM

I would be interested to know how long Barney has been putting the theory into practice and the results he has obtained simply because as a newbie I have pretty much read all of what Barney is stating on various websites and forums however this doesn't mean it is correct or right. I prefer to use advice that has been founded over years of experience with consistently good results. I  will read all the info and make my own informed choice on the info/experience and results available. We are never going to be able to recreate what tortoises have in the wild or even come close in reality so have to do our best  by these amazing animals we have chosen to take into (and take over!!) our lives. We have to try and get it right but will all probably make mistakes as nobody is perfect and everyone of us is an individual as are our tortoises :)



#11 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 08:22 PM

Hi Vikki and anyone else following this one.

 

I have been keeping Mediterranean tortoises for ten years but started off knowing almost nothing and have done my best to learn as I went along - both from the tortoises in my care and from reading whatever I could find. During that time there have been changes or what you could call progress in tortoise keeping practice. Yes I have made mistakes and I've tried to learn from them. 

 

Over that time some questions have maybe been answered to some degree and others are still areas where there is disagreement. On another thread I had rambled on about the different kinds of man-made tortoise foods. Ten years ago probably everything on the market was bad for tortoises but there have been lots of new products and in my opinion some of them are worth looking at.

 

Other things have changed as well, especially lighting technology. Only a few years ago even the best tubular lights were really feeble in their UVB output given what a Mediterranean tortoise would find in it's wild habitat. But that has changed and it has got to the point where a keeper using a supplement and the latest uv tubes might be over-doing the Vit D. Once I had a uvb meter I could measure the real output from the tubes and I also started to get some idea what was going on with the uvb outdoors. I personally stopped using Neutrobal but please note I am not suggesting that anyone else should not use a supplement. I also stopped using MVB bulbs completely and unless there is a massive leap in that technology I will not use them again. Lighting is one of the areas where there has been some research but still nobody can tell us how much exposure a Med tortoise needs. Arcadia have spent money on this question and the marketing guy is quite good at explaining it to non-science people (but I'm not pushing their product!).

 

You are absolutely right that there isn't anything I have been saying on the forum that does not appear elsewhere and I haven't done any research in the formal scientific meaning of that word. In fact, there is very little scientific research into many of these questions in connection to tortoises. The potential risk from feeding a diet with a high proportion of dandelions has been discussed many times in various places and none of that was new or any kind of discovery by me - far from it. 

 

I have changed my mind about some aspects of tortoise keeping over the years. I have also been lucky in that I've been able to visit some tortoise habitats in southern and eastern europe and I've also made some contacts internationally and looked at tortoise forums in other languages. In France for example, the idea of using a fridge for hibernation is widely regarded as awful and some keepers there get extremely angry if this is even mentioned. Over wintering drives some people there absolutely crazy! There are differences of views and the people holding these views feel passionately about what is right. 

 

To me your own approach is the right one. Be open to different sources of information and beware of dogmatic views. Observe your own tortoises. What is regarded as nonsense now might be widely accepted in a few years' time. 

 

Ten years is not that long in the life of a tortoise and my pets have experienced changes in the way I've cared for them over that time. The way things have been on here as of late I'm not about to post photos of them so that everyone can decide by looking if I did a decent job or not. And of course the appearance of the outside of the tortoise is not necessarily a good guide as to its health. So I think I'm saying that I couldn't really provide what you are asking for even if I was willing to do it.

 

What I will say is that I have raised tortoises from hatchlings that have ultimately reproduced. But I'm not really interested in breeding them because there is a fixed amount of people out there who would provide the life for them that I think they ought to have. This might sound like snobbery but it really isn't because I'm happy for them to get tortoises from elsewhere and do whatever they think fit.

 

With apologies to those of you who read everything on the forum (which is what I do) I now resolve to shut up. At least for a short time.  :)



#12 vikki01

vikki01

    Tortoise Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 90 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Gloucester
  • Interests:Animals
    Countryside
    Walking
    Reading

Posted 12 April 2015 - 08:58 PM

Thank you for clarifying that Barney it is much appreciated and I am sure helps us all to understand where you are coming from and also your level of experience. I really agree with what you say about knowing your own tortoises as I said they are all individuals with their own needs and quirks and much with advice about human diet/health etc it is constantly changing and evovlving. We can only do our best!! :) I think that the majority of people who bother to go on forums and post questions etc are making the effort, the biggest problem as with any species of animals are those that end up with the people who cant really be bothered and make no effort to find out how to best care for the animal and it is those  people that cant be reached and the animal ultimately suffers :angry2:



#13 vikki01

vikki01

    Tortoise Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 90 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Gloucester
  • Interests:Animals
    Countryside
    Walking
    Reading

Posted 12 April 2015 - 09:26 PM

Just reading again - I am not sure that most of the man -made foods have changed, I think we would all agree that the majority are still BAD. Yes there are a few now that do seem to be better, unfortunately pet shops etc like to recommend the bad ones as a good way of making money and some people like  to use them through lack of knowledge or simple convenience. As with a lot of things whilst there is a market for a product the manufacturers will continue to provide it despite all evidence of the problems it can cause :(



#14 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 09:30 PM

Sadly that's the case with many products. It's the same with dog food, based on high levels of grain, which dogs never evolved to digest. In recent years the incidence of cancers in dogs has increased dramatically, which is why I won't feed my dog on dried foods either. Anyway, I digress lol.

#15 vikki01

vikki01

    Tortoise Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 90 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Gloucester
  • Interests:Animals
    Countryside
    Walking
    Reading

Posted 12 April 2015 - 09:37 PM

No it is true something doesn't have to be good or beneficial to sell as long as "reputable sources" stock a product or recommend it people will continue to buy it.



#16 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 10:13 PM

I think it says 'some of them are worth looking at' by which I didn't even mean to go so far as 'some of them are worth using' only that some of them are worth a closer look. And really I meant Pre Alpin is worth looking at but I didn't want to seem like a Pre Alpin salesman!



#17 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 10:13 PM

:(

#18 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 10:55 PM

Sue can you explain what that sad face is about please?



#19 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 April 2015 - 11:19 PM

It was in response to vikkis post. If you look carefully you will see it was posted at exactly the same time as yours and not as a response to yours! I could not see your post as I was posting mine!

#20 Guest_Barney_*

Guest_Barney_*
  • Guests

Posted 13 April 2015 - 12:20 AM

Thanks for explaining that Sue, I was a tad baffled for a minute there!  :)






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users