Accurately Weighing and measuring tortoise?

Anthony Willett

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Hi,
I have a 7-year-old Herman's tortoise that I have been weighing and measuring for the past month, but all I have been getting are inconsistent results. The tortoise's weight one day would be much higher than the previous week and then lower the next week. And measuring the straight carapace length changes from 15.7cm to 16.1cm the other. I would gently press her front against the wall, use a ruler to draw a straight line, and measure the length marked on a piece of paper that was beneath her. How would you weigh and measure your tortoise?
 

Lyn W

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Check the accuracy of your scales by weighing something you know the weight of - like a new bag of flour sugar pasta etc
When you weigh her, use a flowerpot or something you can safely balance her on to raise her feet off the scales - don't leave her unsupervised and safer to do it at floor level. Or if she is small enough, put a bowl on the scales.
Don't forget to zero the scales when it's in place before you add her.
Weight can also be affected by whether she has peed or pooped.

I only weigh my tort once a month after he has had pooped.

The way you are measuring her length should be ok or I recently saw Yvonne suggest tracing an outline of the tort onto paper (head tucked in) which you can then measure and keep as a record of her growth,
 

ZEROPILOT

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Weighing any tortoise more than once a month is futile. Just as you've discovered.
And when you do weigh once a month. Make sure all things are the same, like before feeding. Before soaking, etc.
I measure the top of the shell from right behind the neck to the base of the tail notch. But it's important that whichever way you measure, do that exactly the same way each time also.
 

Blackdog1714

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Get a piece of paper and pencil. sit the tort on the paper and trace around the shell. You can make a key in the corner with date, weight, measurements. Then you can do this again and hold the two sheets together in a lighted window to physically see if there is a difference. Otherwise I use basic math- lots of food in, plenty of 💩 out, water dish filled with food and substrate that has been tracked in, and oh yes movement-like stomping around the whole enclosure when I come to give him food! That is all you need to worry about when you have the enclosure dialed in.
 

wellington

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Personally I think putting her on a ruler and the ruler and tort is up against a wall with head tucked in is the best and easiest way. She is on the ruler and they are both up against the same thing.
Tracing can be inaccurate if you don't hold the pencil at the same angel all the way around or even from day to day.
At 7 years I wouldn't way or measure unless you think there is a problem. Mine are 10 years and haven't weighed or measured in years. As long as they are eating, drinking and active, I don't bother.
 

Blackdog1714

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Personally I think putting her on a ruler and the ruler and tort is up against a wall with head tucked in is the best and easiest way. She is on the ruler and they are both up against the same thing.
Tracing can be inaccurate if you don't hold the pencil at the same angel all the way around or even from day to day.
At 7 years I wouldn't way or measure unless you think there is a problem. Mine are 10 years and haven't weighed or measured in years. As long as they are eating, drinking and active, I don't bother.
How did you know I couldn't draw a straight line with a T Square! Metal shop was a bit*%
 

jsheffield

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As was said above, I think the most important thing is to do it the same way, under the same conditions, every time.

I weigh and measure all of my torts once a month: in the morning, after soaking for an hour before I feed them.

I balance the tort on a wide jar on top of the scale so they're high-centered and cannot wander off. I use the same ruler to measure from the front of their plastron (just under their chin) to the back (just by their tail), pressing the ruler flat against the shell to take my reading.

Hopefully, by doing it the same way each time, you reduce variability and standardize results, so that even if you're off, you're off by the same degree each month and can still follow trends in their growth.

I do it once a month, rather than weekly or daily, because the weights can fluctuate so much in the short term based on poop and urates and the size of their last meal.

Jamie
 
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