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Pyramiding is due to excess Heat, not lack of Humidity?

Discussion in 'Advanced Tortoise Topics' started by AMMG, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    As posted today on Facebook. Apologies if this has been posted here already.

    http://www.exoticpetmedicine.com/article/S1557-5063(15)00185-8/fulltext#s0005

    Beyond purely a cosmetic deformity, carapacial scute pyramiding (CSP) is of concern for tortoise health based on compromise of the associated neurologic, musculoskeletal, and internal organ structures of affected animals.

    The authors hypothesized that the extended use of heat in captivity would increase CSP in juvenile leopard and spurred tortoises (in conjunction with increased growth rate).

    Each group was placed in a 79-L black plastic mixing tub, with no substrate, on a 72-watt heated mat (model PHM28, Kane Manufacturing Co., Inc., Des Moines, IA USA) equivalent in size to the tub’s base. Treatment and control groups were set side by side. Treatment heat mats were connected to a 300-W rheostat (Kane Manufacturing Co., Inc., Des Moines, IA USA) plugged into a 110 outlet. Control heat mats were not plugged into an electrical outlet. A timer was used to provide heat mats with electricity throughout the night from 1900 to 0700.

    Comparison of these treatment and control groups revealed significantly greater pyramid height (P < 0.05) for tortoises in the treatment groups.

    The authorsʼ speculate that an unnatural growth rate may lead to the deposition of material between scutes faster than the shell can spread, leading to a conical upgrowth of carapacial scutes (convex upheaval).

    Nutritional and environmental variables are interrelated in dictating proper or improper growth in tortoises.

    Metabolic rates are directly affected by environmental temperature,13and prolonged heat in a captive environment accelerates growth in African leopard and spurred tortoises.

    Although humidity and nutrition have been shown to be related to CSP, this study demonstrated a significant difference in pyramiding when humidity and offered diet were not different between treatment and control groups.

    Chelonians are dependent on heating and cooling cycles for optimal metabolism and subsequent growth. Application of nocturnal heat increases growth rate and CSP in captive-raised leopard and spurred tortoises.
    domalle likes this.
  2. julietteq

    julietteq Member

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    Very interesting indeed !
  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    It was too much for my little pea brain to absorb, so I just skimmed, but were any of the animals in the study smooth? I have raised smooth babies, as have many on here, using the humid method.
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  4. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    Hatchlings were separated into 2 groups: one using an overnight heat mat (93 F), the other with no overnight artificial heat (66F).

    Humidity was the same for both groups at 36%.

    The group with overnight heat developed pyramiding. The group with no overnight heat grew smooth.

    The study used Leopards and Sulcatas.
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  5. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I read it as they all had heat mats on at night and the controlled group had no heat mat on in the day, just room temp at 29c.
  6. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    "Each group was placed in a 79-L black plastic mixing tub, with no substrate, on a 72-watt heated mat (model PHM28, Kane Manufacturing Co., Inc., Des Moines, IA USA) equivalent in size to the tub’s base. Treatment and control groups were set side by side. Treatment heat mats were connected to a 300-W rheostat (Kane Manufacturing Co., Inc., Des Moines, IA USA) plugged into a 110 outlet. Control heat mats were not plugged into an electrical outlet. A timer was used to provide heat mats with electricity throughout the night from 1900 to 0700. Room temperature was controlled using a Honeywell TH600 series programmable thermostat (17°C from 1900 to 0700 and 29°C from 0700 to 1900). Fluorescent room lights (40 W, General Electric, Cleveland, OH USA) were also on a 12-hour on-off cycle (on from 0700 to 1900)."

    The control group was called the "no heat group" throughout the article. The control group's mats not being plugged in to an outlet indicates to me they were always off.
  7. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    The controlled group were on a timer instead of the rheostat, the timer comes on between 1900 to 0700(through the night). Re-read it please. I read it the same as you at 1st. I'm happy to be wrong, happens every day in our house :D. Please re-read and let me know what you think.
  8. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    That paragraph was poorly written. If we look at the rest of the article, we can see that the key variable between the treatment and control groups was over night / nocturnal temperature.

    Abstract states: The results of this research investigation indicate that growth rate and CSP appear to be directly related and both increase with excess nocturnal heat.

    Conclusion states: Application of nocturnal heat increases growth rate and CSP in captive-raised leopard and spurred tortoises.
    domalle likes this.
  9. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    mmmmm, I need to re-read the whole article tomorrow. Brain is hurting. :D
  10. popeye tortoise

    popeye tortoise Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much for this information. I do not have half of the knowledge that most keepers do on this forum. I am always following but do not have much in-put. Please if you could explain it laymen terms. I am dealing with some pyramiding know with a young Aldabra. And I would like to make the best decision for my tortoise.
    Thank all
  11. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Keep him/her humid.
  12. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Either way with this experiment, its a parameter that points to fast growth not being good. In this case it's heat. Mmmm. Does it say anywhere that they all eat exactly the same amount of food. If they turned the controlled subjects heat off at night, I would have thought they would not eat as much the following day. If so would this falsify 'it's just the heat' that forced growth. If they were all kept above the digestive systems temperature requirements through the night, the food intake would be more on par for both groups.
    Also not letting them cool at night eliminates health issues aslong as the highs in the day don't exceed upper limits.

    Bedtime.
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  13. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    This study suggests excess temperature and related quick growth - not low humidity - is the key factor that results in pyramiding.

    I realize many have raised smooth tortoises in using humidity / soaks, but perhaps they also had their temperatures correct, and it was the temperatures and not the humidity that produced smooth shells. Humidity tends to bring temperatures down, so the relationship is there.

    To me this makes sense. Tortoises don't soak themselves daily in the wild. Greek torts hides and burrows in the wild typically have only 50% humidity at most. I imagine this is the case with other wild tortoises especially in warmer climates. But tortoises do deal with a wide range of temperature variations and nightly drops in temperature.
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  14. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the study is about excess temps forcing growth. My point is, it doesn't matter what forces the growth, the outcome is the same. So. Overfeeding, too many forced soaks, wrong diet and temperatures all can result in excelling the growth rate. I don't soak my juvies unless it's just to clean em for this reason. More poop= more food= fast growth.
    What I'm saying is , inadvertently by keeping a tort too warm constantly, surely it naturally eats more adding to the fast growth rate and diluting the just a 'temperature' theory.
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Umm… Its hot in Africa where they come from. Hot day and night.

    And what about Arizona, Hawaii, New Orleans and South FL where they all grow smooth and its hot all the time in summer?

    So if we leave our tropical torts at room temp all the time, and don't feed them, they won't pyramid. Okay. Got it. Moving on now.
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  16. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    Tom. Do you think the forced soaking can be over done?
  17. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I just re-read my last post, may have come across wrong. There is no way I'm suggesting leave torts at room temp. I was trying to say, if they are at lower temps this must effect the apitite, thus making it seem that they don't grow as fast due to temps, but less food intake plays a role too, not the heat.
  18. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    Um... the Sahel region, native to Sulcatas and Leopards, has significant night temperature drops year round. Average temperature drops from daytime 28C to 14C at night in the winter months.

    The study did not say anything about room temperature or not feeding them, I don't know what you're on about.

    Control group was raised mostly outside under the sun, indoors when need be at 30C, overnight at 19C, with humidity around 30%, and they did not pyramid.
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  19. AMMG

    AMMG New Member

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    Yes. The study argues forced quick growth = pyramiding. Overnight heat is one way you get there.
    domalle likes this.
  20. Anyfoot

    Anyfoot Well-Known Member

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    I was under the impression that when night temps drop after a hot day, dew forms, them the following morning when it heats up again it becomes very humid whilst the dew evaporates. If that is correct and this study was done in low humidity and leaving heat on with low humidity, it would encourage pyramiding.
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