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Beauty from within? A pyramiding query

Discussion in 'Aldabra tortoises' started by TortyDxb, Jan 16, 2018.

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  1. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    We know that starting a tortoise's life in an 80%+ humid environment, re @Tom 's findings, virtually guarantees smooth growth.

    That would be a constant environment where a tortoise remains relatively damp (for want of a better word) on the outside.

    But what about a tortoise kept in a dry environment, but soaked daily for an hour? A more intense shot of 'internal' hydration so to speak without the humidity.

    Could making sure a tortoise is well hydrated and has had his/her fill of water daily be enough to produce smooth growth?

    Is it internal hydration or their external environment that is the main variable in avoiding a pyramiding tortoise.
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  2. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    To conclude on this, oh-so-lonely-a, post. I am going to let the aldabras be outsiders in the UAE full time. I'll aim to soak them twice daily, for 20-30 minutes. While the humidity recorded is high mostly, it's different to Florida- it's not wet and rainy- things dry out fast. If it's a hydration issue and internal, I should be sound, if it's external damp/wetness that brings on pyramiding I'm making a terrible call.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  3. Dizisdalife

    Dizisdalife Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Internal hydration is a must for a healthy tortoise, so be sure to soaking them. I am not sure if this will be enough to produce smooth aldabra tortoises in the UAE or not. You are going to have to keep a close watch on the new growth coming in. If it is pyramiding, then you can increase humidity to try to stop it.
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  4. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Sorry you had not received a response earlier. You are asking questions where the answers have not been proven scientifically. I do believe we have enough evidence with experience and experiments to make some conclusions that are proving out. Let me give you my conclusions.

    Pyramiding is a condition driven by the way the keratin of the scute forms and hardens as a tortoise grows. That is external hydration. I believe the new keratin laid down at the seams of a growing tortoise needs to stay more supple and harden slowly to allow the new scute edge to fully form in thickness. If it dries too quidkly, the top of that seam becomes stiff and less hydroscopic and will force the additional swelling of the newly forming edge to start growing downward. When you bathe a growing tortoise with that visible new seam, you can actually see the new keratin at the seam dry differently than the rest of the scute as the tortoise slowly dries in its bath. Internal hydration has no effect on this. It is environmental conditions that will cause the new keratin to dry too quickly that is the problem. So I do not believe soaking can keep keratin from drying too quickly.

    Pyramiding by itself is not a huge health concern. However I believe when a tortoise is kept in conditions that are dry enough to pyramid, there is also a toll on the internal organs that could potentially be dehydrating. Internal hydration is not as simple as we may think with a tortoise. They have evolved with a mechanism for storing water that is different than most animals. So allowing a tortoise plenty to drink will ensure this reserve of water, but that reserve is protected from water loss by the structure of the tortoise and somewhat separate from many other body functions. They can dehydrate substantially while still maintaining that water reserve "for emergencies". They use it to help wet their burrows, and to wet soil while digging nests. It helps keep them from death by dehydration but not necessarily keeping them as hydrated as optimal. External humidity is still important to them. Breathing excessively dry air is extremely desiccating no matter what type of water "reserve" they have in the "storage tank".
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  5. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    I'll get some photos to compare to the ones I had uploaded at some point, and hopefully get some comments on the new growth over the past month. Thanks v much for the reply - I'm looking at the next reply also and i think i'm going to get a general swing to external hydration being the deciding factor. Bollox that is much harder work if humidity levels aren't right.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  6. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    I really wasn't fishing for a response (I tend to babble away- often solo) :) but sooo kind of you to reply in such detail, thank you!

    I would like it to be an internal issue, I think that's what it is, because it would be so much easier to pull them in for 30 minutes a day for a soak. I'm going to work out what humidity levels really are in fact inside and out and revert back here.

    One thing, if (just while they are small) at night, for say 7-9 hours every night, I put the Aldabras in their own enclosures, a food container type enclosure (a large plastic box with lid and some drilled holes for air) on 4 inches of coco coir substrate dampish, and put those in a warm dark room/broom cupboard- would that be ok, or abusive?

    I wopuldnt put food or water in there, just a damp and deep substrate to guarantee at least 7-9 hours of humid hide time sort of. Any opinions on this?
  7. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    If it is an external issue, why not just moisturise the shell 3-6 times a day? I mean that would ensure supple (?) ness etc.
  8. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

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    I have to admit, I know absolutely nothing about raising aldabras, but many young tortoises seem to have similary needs (even though some species are more prone to pyramiding than others). I believe it's not so important to keep them wet (inside or outside) but to avoid desiccation.

    Ask on TFO how to raise a hatchling and you'll be told to get an inside enclosure (babies are way too delicate to be outside!), get strong heat lamps, raise the humidity and - most impotantly - soak it each and every day.

    Ask the same question in a German forum and you'll be told to keep it outside or in a green house whenever possible (but of course an aldabra can't be outside in winter), cover the whole enclosure with plants for humidity and shelter and - most importantly - to never put them directly under a heat lamp (babies are way too delicate to sit under heat lamps!). And to avoid soaking or any unnecessary handling.

    Both methods seem to be working, but I guess you have to take the individual climate into consideration. Where are you in the UAE? What's the humidity like?
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  9. Alaskamike

    Alaskamike Well-Known Member

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    This discussion of hydration / humidity relating to pyramiding continues on the forum with regularity. Sometimes you see diet concerns thrown in for good measure.

    @Markw84 analysis is a pretty good synopsis of current thinking - at least amoung the more experienced keepers here.

    I think of the keratin process as a continuous cycle. In other words - the growth of new softer keratin in the center of the seam along with the hardening of the edges into a permenant part of the scute is an ongoing process. The seam widens, then narrows but never completely disappears in a young tortoise.

    In thinking of it this way , you can then surmise that soaking the shell for a 1/2 hr will defiantly help keep the new growth supple for a time. So will spraying them. But shortly after drying out, the possibility of pyramiding returns. Here I am only addressing the soaks vs high humidity difference , not internal hydration.

    So if the new keratin is supple for an hour , that still leaves 23 other hours a day to get too dry.

    I hope This makes sense. But my take on this would be , there is no substitute for high humidity in halting pyramiding.
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  10. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    I get that pyramiding is not necessarily the sign of an unhealthy tortoise, it's just that I'd feel like people were judging me :).

    Interesting about the water storage variable, going back to external humidity, as I have two Aldabras that have begun to pyramid I want to arrest it and so I'm going to listen. I think for at least this year it's worth going ott on the fight back.
  11. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    If I were to raise an Aldabra in a climate like you have, I would use a large greenhouse type structure that I could keep as humid as possible. Where they live naturally, the weather station humidity averages 75% every month of the year. And it can be much more humid where they choose to stay in their microclimate.
  12. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    And also in a soak, really only the plastron is underwater and wet for 30 minutes unless you are drowning them....
  13. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    Im in Dubai and external humidity is at 60% right now according to Lord Google, but it's different to Florida style humidity, I can't explain it. Things get dry.
  14. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    When I soak my tortoises I always have the water come up to where the marginals meet the costals. If you look at an Adalbra in the wild with access to a watering hole, it will soak in water quite a bit deeper than that. They will not drown. In fact I just saw and article of an Aldabra that washed up on shore in Africa that had been floating at sea for over 6 weeks (by the size of the new gooseneck barnacles starting to form)
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  15. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    I will graduate to the green house thing as they get bigger, I think it's a great idea. Thanks.

    Can you (if you have the time and don't mind) comment on the idea of keeping them in a heated/warm room/closet in their own plastic covered containers with deep substrate that is damp at night? No food no water bowls etc.

    They have lots to do during the day, good areas to cover, plants/weeds and funs stuff to feed on, and plenty of sun if they want it. Soaked daily too.
  16. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    That is mind boggling @ALDABRAMAN worth reading this!
  17. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Exercise is very important. A large tortoise needs to develop large muscles and bone. Ensure room to exercise. I would not put them in anything that restricts that.
  18. TortyDxb

    TortyDxb Active Member

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    They have vast amounts of space during the day, will they even be active at night? does it matter? - just to ensure the exposure to humidity- is it abusive? it feels a bit cheap, putting them in a food container at night :) that's all.

    I am trying to, say, guarantee 7 hours of exposure to humid hide in a 24 hour cycle and this seems to be an easy way to do it.

    At the moment they are 4 inches long too.
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  19. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART 5 Year Member

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    ~ I read it all, however based on history i choose not to comment on many threads / topics because of such confliction with other more persistent and argumentative members. I trend to "avoid the bad and seek the good" on this forum when it comes to certain topics and this is unfortunately one of them. I admire the passion of many that truly try to do the best for the tortoises, however if you try to replace and manipulate certain necessary factors it simply is lacking and usually ends up with some sort of issues.
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  20. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Just a note to help explain this principal: I keep my outdoor plants in a small greenhouse during the winter. Every night I turn on the heater and every morning I turn it off. When I go in there to tend to the heater, it is VERY humid inside. All those plants (maybe over 100) and their moist soil and the aspiration from the plants keeps the air very humid inside the greenhouse. If you could keep something like this warm enough in the winter, it would certainly be easy to keep it humid enough.
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