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Tortoise shell conditioners

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by Redfootedboxturtles, Jul 8, 2008.

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  1. Redfootedboxturtles

    Redfootedboxturtles Member

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    Here is another commonly debated subject. So lets the discuss the use of turtle and tortoise shell conditioners here. It is sold in almost every pet shop. Online pet supplies and catalogs. I assume it is commonly used.

    What are the pros and cons of commercial tortoise shell conditioners?

    It has been suggested that commercial tortoise shell conditioners revitalize dry, brittle shells.

    Others say it should be avoided and that it even can cause problems by having dirt stick the the shell after applications.


    Any real information from people who have used it (pro/con testimonials) but anyone who is knowledgeable is more then welcome to post.



    Lets try and get a final word of this kind of product

    Questions welcome.

    My question would be. What are some natural alternatives such as food items that can provide the same result.
  2. Redfootedboxturtles

    Redfootedboxturtles Member

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  3. Crazy1

    Crazy1 New Member

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    I guess in this respect I am rather old fashioned. In nature they do not get oil or wax rubbed on their shells. Their shells are healthy because of the diet they consume. So if you are giving your tort a healthy diet the shell should be healthy, unless an injury or disease occurs. I realize some people like a torts shell to be shiny for pics but that's easy enough, just wet the shell down and all the colors come out no need to oil or wax. I often think about the things sold for torts and turts that are unnecessary and unneeded and understand that these companies are out to make money. I read on a post somewhere where a girl used ”Vitashell” on her cuticles and it softened them up wonderfully. No thanks I'll use good old fashion water like Mother Nature.
  4. Sardinecan

    Sardinecan New Member

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    I do agree that tortoises shell should probably be left as natural as possible. However just to be the devils advocate here. It is true that no one rubs wax on their shells in the wild, however in their natural habitat, the climate may be more humid than where they are now kept in captivity. I'm sure in parts of the US, humidity levels do get very low. This can affect the shell & cause drying out & cracking. In this case waxing or oiling the shell may actually help keep it healthy.

    Where I live in South East Asia, humidity levels are high. Sometimes too high for certain breeds of torts. I have tried applying the olive oil used for cooking on some of my tortoises' shell and it doesn't really cause any more dust to stick to them than if there was no oil. The olive oil dries out quite quickly and doesn't feel oily by the 2nd day. I have tried oiling the shells once every 1-2 weeks. It keeps the shell looking good and it doesn't seem to affect the torts at all.

    Hence I don't think there is any harm in oiling the shell, but I don't think it is necessary to spend lots of money buying special wax or oil. The good old olive oil will do the trick.
  5. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    However, I have heard that cooking oils, such as vegetable or olive oils are drying. They cause the shell to dry out faster than if no oil was applied.

    Yvonne
  6. Sardinecan

    Sardinecan New Member

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    That I can't comment because I'm in the tropics where humidity is always 80% or more. Maybe that is why even applying olive oil on their doesn't even cause them to dry out.

    However I can't see why applying oil would cause more drying. I thought applying water & have that evaporate would lead to more drying. It's like licking your lips in a dry climate would lead to cracked lips. If it were really the case that cooking oil dries out the shell, in the drier climates maybe using baby oil would be better.
  7. Redfootedboxturtles

    Redfootedboxturtles Member

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    The ingredients for the shell conditioners are basically a mix of a couple kinds of oils and some other products. So I think that straight oil and the conditioner product go hand in hand. So if one is bad to use then both are.

    What I would like to get here is :

    Is shell conditioner good?
    Is shell conditioner bad?
    or
    Is it neither good or bad? (does nothing)

    And why?
  8. Crazy1

    Crazy1 New Member

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    I'm not sure you can get those answers. To do so I would think that you would have to have two identical torts, in identical situations, on identical foods then use a conditioner on one and not on the other and over time note the results (this would be a long term experiment). I am not sure that has been done.
  9. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    If you want your nails and hair to be strong and healthy chances are you would eat foods and supplements that make them grow strong and healthy. Internal is much better than external, which washes off and really doesn't absorb to make a healthy shell or nail or hair. Feed your tortoise the correct foods and supplements and his shell will be strong and healthy.

    I'm starting a study (whenever I can get out there and take some "before" pictures) which includes feeding the tortoises red palm oil. Its supposed to be good for their shells and skin. I'm going to have "before" pictures of tortoises within the group who are getting the supplement, and who are not getting the supplement. Then after 6 months I'm supposed to take "after" pictures. We'll see in 6 months if the product has made a difference. I think we all can see how dry tortoise skin looks. It will be an interesting study.

    Yvonne
  10. chelonologist

    chelonologist Member

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    Occasionally I'll use a conditioner called VitaShell by Tetrafauna. It's basically a lotion (you can even use it on your hands). As long as you only apply it once in a while, I can't see how there's any harm in using it. However, to keep a tortoise's shell continuously slathered in the stuff might pose a problem, particularly for species that inhabit dry climates.
  11. Redfootedboxturtles

    Redfootedboxturtles Member

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    Michael , your bio gives a little background on who you are and what you do . You are a real wildlife biologist correct? Where did you get your degree? Its cool to have someone who can give a scientific prospective on these products.


    You say you occasionally use it. So why and when do you use conditioner on tortoises? What were the results?
  12. chelonologist

    chelonologist Member

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    I like to use the shell conditioner on my growing babies, as it conditions the growth seams. You'll notice that the lamina on the growth seams is relatively soft and often gets dry and flaky. An occasional treatment with a conditioner may be a way to keep this relatively soft tissue healthy, though there's absolutely no scientific evidence that I'm aware of that suggests this is true. But just as you might apply lotion to a human baby's fingernails to keep the tissues from becoming dry and brittle, the same could be true for juvenile tortoise shells. I probably apply the conditioner 3-4 times per year to my tortoises (Gopherus and Testudo). For adult tortoises, shell conditioner may be a way to combat dry, brittle, peeling lamina. In addition to possible health benefits, it makes their shells look really cool for a short while, right? :p

    Yes, I'm a wildlife biologist. I received my B.S. from Truman State in 1991, and my M.S. from Eastern Illinois University in 1993. I currently work as a biological consultant in southern California.
  13. ArkansasKelly

    ArkansasKelly New Member

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    My opinion is, if you are going to use any type of conditioner on the shell, instead of using lotions and the like, why not use something that is all natural such as liquid vit. E? Wouldn't that work better?

    ARKelly
  14. purpod

    purpod New Member

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    Here's what the TertraFauna company had to say when I questioned them as to their product doing more harm than good {which was in opposition to any personal experience on my end}

    http://tortoiseforum.org/vitashell-t-3573.html#pid29843

    I still use just a smidgeon of the product every so often, and thus far have never had any issues with Vitashell personally, but as you can see, that has not been the case for all who've used it...

    Perhaps the key words in the Doc's original post was
    Purpod
  15. katesgoey

    katesgoey New Member

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    A couple of weeks ago I asked about shell conditioning because I could not recall where I had read using a solution that vet's use. Well, I came across the article by Misty Corton through the World Chelonian Trust - here is what Misty stated about shell care:

    "Shell care: Once a month during summer give your tortoise an all over "scrub" with diluted Betadine solution (it should resemble weak black tea) and a soft nail brush (or a human baby hairbrush is ideal!), at the same time examine shell for any defects or signs of scutes lifting. Any loose scutes should be removed, and the area scrubbed and then allowed to dry. Keep an eye on this area to ensure it does not develop into shell rot, and if any of the surrounding scutes loosen remove those too. Do not apply any substance to the shell, as this can affect their ability to maintain body temperature. Paint in particular can be harmful. If large areas of scutes start loosening it’s a sign of trouble and you should seek vet help immediately. " Misty Corton at http://www.chelonia.org/articles/Mistypardaliscare.htm.

    Does anyone follow this protocol?
  16. Shellback

    Shellback New Member

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    I'm pretty sure it doesn't really mater if you use it or not I try not to ((Over care)) my torts .
    Some people do in my opinion.
  17. diggertort

    diggertort New Member

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    I WOULD THINK OLIVE OIL AND THE SUN WOULD NOT BE A GOOD MATCH FOR THE SHELL
  18. delicious

    delicious New Member

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    I have never seen or used tortoise shell conditioners so I can't comment on whether it is good or not.

    I remember treating a young tortoise attacked by a dog by rubbing aloe vera on it's shell. I cute the plant and the creamy fluid inside is what I used to rub on the shell. After a few days the wounds began to heal and the shell shiny and looking really good.

    Personally, I don't think it's necessary but knock yourself out. ;) I know aloe vera will not do any harm but only good if anything. :)
  19. bigwhitemonster

    bigwhitemonster New Member

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    i found this on http://www.blueskies.co.uk/newbatk/general_information.htm

    "Tortoises should be kept clean. Do not put oil on their carapaces. If you do, it will reduce the efficiency of heat exchange when basking and it makes shell-rot worse. Wash frequently, using a nailbrush or toothbrush, with an anti- bacterial cleaner and water. Avoid getting the cleaner into their eyes and make sure their nails are clean."

    not sure if this is true or not but there it is
  20. purpod

    purpod New Member

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    Salutations ~

    I'm not so sure about the use of anti-bacterial soap; how would one guard against drying out of the skin unless one used a conditioner? I do not believe that would be healthy, either, from an internal perspective; I would imagine that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, and anti-bacterial soaps would not take such into account..?

    I could be mistaken, but I personally would not use any soap on my torties ~ a nice warm running bath with a soft toothbrush works well for me, and yes, I do use a bit of the VitaShell every so often ~

    Purpod
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