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Hatchling Losses

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by BrianWI, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiosity, when people buy a young hatchling, what percentage end up dying in the first 6 months? I see people that came on here with a hatchling, then disappeared after a couple months of posts (some with problems). It made me wonder if they were just no longer participating or if the hatchling died.

    I imagine many torts, especially big ones like sulcatas, are impulse purchases. And being fairly inexpensive, maybe seen as disposable. Thoughts?
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    Quite often we hear people say a baby tortoise is the same as taking care of an adult tortoise, but this really isn't the case. Baby tortoises need their butts kissed, while adult tortoises can be tossed out in the back yard and ignored (as long as there's grazing material). I have a feeling that the members who slowly fade out of posting existence do so because their baby died.
    Big Ol Tortoise and allegraf like this.
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    The question is too vague. There are far too many variables here to answer this question with any degree of accuracy.

    One big variable is the source of the baby. If you buy a baby sulcata from me, Lance, Austin, or any number of breeders here who take the time and effort to start them right, 100% of them are going to survive and thrive unless the new owner does something terribly wrong. I sent 3 babies to a well known, long established and experienced member here and the babies were somehow left in a tub in the sun and all three died of excessive heat. Very sad, but anyone can make a mistake. I don't hold it against the person. All the other babies that I've been able to keep track of survived and thrived. Look at Dean's "Bond Girls" threads. Same for Lance. I get tons of PMs from members having trouble with new babies. I've never once got a single PM from anyone having trouble with one of Lance's babies.

    On the other hand, if a person gets a baby from one of the many sources that have tons of bad reviews here, or at a reptile show, or from a breeder that starts them on dry substrate with once a week soaks and keeps them outside all day, I would estimate the odds of survival at less than 50/50. If you add in the bad advice that people get from these same sources, meaning people that don't find us and follow our hydration tips, I think the ratio gets even worse.

    Also a lot of people simply leave the forum because they either don't believe what they are being told, or because they don't want to spend the time or money to do it right. Some of them want to engage in dangerous practices like letting their tortoise roam loose on the floor and they feel brow-beaten when a bunch of us try to explain how dangerous the practice is in an effort to discourage them. Some people are just so sensitive that every sentence seems and insult to them.
  4. motero

    motero Active Member 5 Year Member

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    This is a good question, I would say a lot of babies don't make it. Or there would be lots more adult Sulcatas around. I have grown out over 14 Sulcatas and leopards and haven't lost one due to sickness or health issues. And the credit goes to, The TFO members who taught me all about Tortoise care.

    I point every one who gets a tortoise here to the forum to educate them selves.
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  5. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    Tom,

    Actually, I think you answered very well. The answer itself is vague because it is hard to track real numbers. It does illustrate well the need for the proper start for these tortoises.

    I have read many threads old and new, so I even understand what you mean by people getting butt-hurt by the truth. I've seen you get yelled at and I've seen some argumentative people. Every hobby has them and animal hobbyists may be the worst (not including political stuff). But, some things need to be said, blunt without a sugar coating.
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  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Many threads, arguments and discussions have been had on this subject alone. Many different opinions have emerged. My opinion is that different tactics work for different people. I can type the exact same sentence to 10 people and 2 will cuss me for it, 4 will thank me for it, 1 will call me a "guru", 2 will ignore it and just go on with whatever they were doing, and 1 will leave the forum because of it. Sometimes the sugar-coated nice approach works better, sometimes the frank and blunt approach works better, sometimes a harsher approach works better and sometimes just the passage of time lets ideas sink in.

    Anyhow, I don't think there are numbers on the original question of what percentage of babies survive their first six months. I think it really depends on the breeder, seller and new keeper. The numbers are all over the map based on these three primary variables.

    Another factor that occurs to me is that many of these "keep-em'-dry" style breeders don't realize how many of their babies they are killing because the babies survive for several weeks of months before succumbing to the effects of early dehydration. We see it all the time here.
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  7. huff747

    huff747 New Member

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    Here's my story, I'm on my third go round with trying to raise leopard hatchlings.

    Round 1 - 2 leopard babies a decade ago if not more. No clue about this forum then. Also can't remember where I got them from, likely kingsnake or fauna since I use to breed ball pythons and that's where I sold them. I bought the books and did it dry in a tortoise table type setup and with feeding lots of grass (they didn't seem to eat) and cactus, honestly can't recall if I even used spring mix as I think the books really pushed grasses and cactus so that's what I was trying. Didn't make it but I don't recall how long I had them. I don't recall them growing much though.

    Round 2 - 1 leopard baby and 1 sulcata baby (housed separately) probably late 2012 early 2013. I decided to give them a go again because I had managed to keep an older redfoot alive for a couple years by the time I got these two. Didn't know about this forum when I got them, bought them from a "breeder" that I believe has since went out of business. Was trying the grass and cactus mostly again although I believe I was also using Spring Mix and Endive/Escarole because I had adopted the older redfoot by the time I got these 2. Was still using dry table like enclosures for these two because that's the info I had in the books and I still hand't found this forum. The redfoot I misted and kept on dampish cypress mulch but the African torts were suppose to be dry according to all the info I had. I did eventually find this forum while trying to figure out why the leopard wasn't growing. Only found it because somebody had posted about this forum on fauna. I'll admit I didn't rush out and make them closed chambers but I did start soaking and misting. I was worried about having them too wet because, no offense, but I had just found this forum and you're faceless people from the internet and I found it difficult to dismiss what the books said for what people I didn't know anything about and had just run across by chance said. And the other care sheets/books say "humidity leads to RI and/or shell rot" and so on. The sulcata seemed to power through and I thought turned out pretty well:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But once again the leopard hadn't been growing and didn't make it. I did have to re-home the sulcata and had traded the redfoot because we moved. And we sold our house before we had any contract on a new place so we moved into a tiny rental duplex with no yard to speak of and no ability as renters to fence it or anything and didn't know how long we'd be there as we were still looking for a permanent place.

    Round 3 - 2 leopard babies April of this year from reputable breeder. Did make closed chambers. I'm not probably keeping it as humid as some (it's still a bit tough to fight the fear of doing the opposite of the books and most care sheets that can be found) but it is humid (70% or greater), they also have a humid hide that is usually even more humid and I soak them every day, I've missed only 3 days (non-consecutive) since I've had them while we were out of town for a day here or there. We have a dog sitter that stays at our house and feeds them and mists them but I don't ask her to soak them. And usually when I get back the next day they get 2 soaks.

    When I got them:
    Lighter baby
    [​IMG]

    Darker baby
    [​IMG]

    This morning as I type this:
    Lighter baby (most new growth has been dark)
    [​IMG]

    Darker baby (most new growth has been light)
    [​IMG]

    And so far the lighter one has gone from 37g to 100g, and the darker one has gone from 32g to 84g.

    So I'm guessing you're correct and a lot die. I had never even heard of humidity for them until it was probably too late for the 2nd round leopard. And at least for me it wasn't easy to dismiss what 3 books I bought and pretty much every care sheet outside of this forum says but I'm fighting it this time and they seem to be doing well.
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  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Many people are in your position. I too followed the advice of all the books, vets, experts and breeders, only to meet the same repeated failure that you met. I had given up on keeping leopards entirely until I figured out this warm/humid/hydrated thing. Sadly, most breeders are still doing it the old dry way and most people are still going throughout what you and I went through.

    If you haven't seen these, they might offer some explanation. This one explains what goes wrong when they are started dry:
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/hatchling-failure-syndrome.23493/

    This one explains how they SHOULD be started:
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-incubate-eggs-and-start-hatchlings.124266/
  9. ethan508

    ethan508 Member

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    I hope also that some people that leave the forum do so because they get the hang of tortoise keeping. They used the forum to educate themselves, get enclosure set up advice, find a good diet and hydration plan, and locate a good vet. Now they can sit back, care for, and enjoy their tortoise. I'm grateful for those that have the information and are willing to share, but once I get on my feet I really won't have questions to contribute to the forum, and I won't really be expert enough to provide anything but parroted advice.
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  10. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    This is a POV that I haven't thought of. People who get what they need, and then leave as a satisfied "customer".

    Thanks for sharing this.
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  11. Arizona Sulcata

    Arizona Sulcata Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I think the most simple answer is that if they are cared for properly in all stages (breeder to owner) then a tortoise won't just magically die (aka "hatchling failure syndrome"). That term drives me nuts and I feel like I answer emails about it daily.
  12. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    So really most die of "owner misinformation syndrome".
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  13. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I would say that some die of new owner error, but the vast majority die from breeder error during the first few weeks after hatching. "Breeder Failure Syndrome". When someone buys one of these dry started babies with damaged kidneys, they often behave normally, eat a lot, bask and everything seems normal for weeks or months. The new owner can do everything right, and these little ticking bombs are still going to die. It can't be predicted and no amount of money or vet care will save them when they get an overly dry start.
  14. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    Have necropsies been done?
  15. Arizona Sulcata

    Arizona Sulcata Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I couldn't agree more. Tortoises are hardy creatures and I've seen them take quite a beating from owners who either don't care or in most cases who are misinformed and the tortoises still manage to live on despite horrid conditions. A tortoise that comes from a bad breeder that didn't give them a proper start has little chance of thriving. Those first few weeks play a critical role on how the rest of the torts life plays or unfortunately doesn't play out.
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  16. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Yes. Kidney damage is evident each time.
  17. Fredkas

    Fredkas Well-Known Member

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    Just can't believe, read this forum until now, you still amazed me @Tom with your patience of writing same things again and again with added some new information. Thank you that you exist and willing to spend your times educate all of us. I can spend hours of times a day surfing tfo because all this conversation always makes me learn new stuff.
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  18. BrianWI

    BrianWI Well-Known Member

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    Raw deal.
  19. Pearly

    Pearly Well-Known Member

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    Agree! @Tom, @Fredkas has preceeded me. I too have been wanting to thank you for ALWAYS taking your time to answer every single question. I have learned tons from you
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  20. klawran1

    klawran1 Active Member

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    I got VERY lucky. When I got my leopard tortoise (thinking back I want to say 9 years ago) every piece of care information I had said to keep her dry. Soaked, but no misting or anything at all because she could get a respiratory infection easily. Luckily for her, we lived in Mississippi at the time and it was very humid for the entire year I lived there. Nothing I did could lower that humidity (thankfully) and I lost a lot of sleep over it. After that first year-3, we lived in a less humid area and she was kept totally dry for years. By this point, a male I had obtained a couple of years after her showed no signs of growth. I came across a different forum looking for information as you why he wasn't growing before I came across the problem. All I can say is my female leopard was very lucky we were in Mississippi and she at least had some humidity (that room I kept her in was always hot and muggy from my turtle tanks). My male was not so lucky. He survived and was rehomed a couple of years back, but my female is still with me, though I'm not sure she's the correct size for her age. She's at least healthy and happy. The male is still alive and thriving, he's just very small and I doubt he will live anywhere close to his potential. If I ever go down they baby path again, the new one will be in a closed chamber.
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