Bouncy shell on radiated shells

T0rts

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Hello,
My first post on here, so I'm hoping someone can help me.
In Nov 2017 I bought 2 baby radiated tortoises from a reptile show (CB 2016). A month later I noticed the shells on both the babies were bouncy when lightly pressed, rather than hard as I would expect. I must admit I hadn't checked this before then, so may well have been an ongoing issue.
I initially kept them in an open-topped table with soil/sand substrate (sprayed daily); with humid hide; arcadia 80w uvb bulb on 12 hours a day; basking temps 30-32c; background heat: 22c night & 24-26c day; diet weeds 90% grass 10%. To help humidity I added leaves (sprayed daily). Supplements: calcium 3x pw & nutrobal 3x pw.
When I noticed shell problem I moved them to closed chamber (so I could maintain humidity at higher levels - 70%) & changed calcium to 4x pw & nutrobal 2x pw...
I did contact the breeder, the moment I noticed the problem & after lengthy discussion on my setup/care etc he said everything OK & suggested it could be their shells hadn't "calcified" properly & to give calcium carbonate instead of calcium powder. Everything in my setup he approved of. He also checked shells of other babies he still had from same group & none had this problem. He dismissed the idea it could be parasites.

4 weeks later & no change in bouncy shells. Both are eating well & putting on weight.

Should I be concerned? Is this normal? If not, any suggestions how I can fix the problem? Does my setup seem OK?

I really hope someone will be able to help me!....
 

Anyfoot

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Try getting the entire enclosure between 28/32deg c with no basking spot. Use a 10.0 uvb tube set at around 6" from the tortoise.

@zovick
 

Anyfoot

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Where in the UK are you? I'm in Sheffield.
Can we see some photos of tortoises and enclosure please. Maybe a video of the bouncy shells.
 

T0rts

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Try getting the entire enclosure between 28/32deg c with no basking spot. Use a 10.0 uvb tube set at around 6" from the tortoise.

@zovick
Thanks so much for your reply. I forgot to mention that I also have a uvb tube but it's about 20" away & covers half of their tub & half of another tub with Leo hatchlings (that also shares their closed chamber). The uvb tube is on 7am-7pm & the basking uvb is on 4 hours a day in their tub.

Out of interest, why do you recommend removing the uvb basking bulb? Is it because a uvb tube is more effective/less damaging than the bulb?
Also, the 28-30C you recommend for the entire tub: what about heat gradients, should they have a warmer & cooler area for thermoregulation? Or are your suggestions a temp solution until the problem is fixed?

Sorry for all the questions, just wanting to understand the "why's"?

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to me, I really appreciate it [emoji4]
 

T0rts

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Where in the UK are you? I'm in Sheffield.
Can we see some photos of tortoises and enclosure please. Maybe a video of the bouncy shells.
I'm near London. Yes, I'll see how I get on with uploading photos/videos... [emoji6]
 

zovick

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Thanks so much for your reply. I forgot to mention that I also have a uvb tube but it's about 20" away & covers half of their tub & half of another tub with Leo hatchlings (that also shares their closed chamber). The uvb tube is on 7am-7pm & the basking uvb is on 4 hours a day in their tub.

Out of interest, why do you recommend removing the uvb basking bulb? Is it because a uvb tube is more effective/less damaging than the bulb?
Also, the 28-30C you recommend for the entire tub: what about heat gradients, should they have a warmer & cooler area for thermoregulation? Or are your suggestions a temp solution until the problem is fixed?

Sorry for all the questions, just wanting to understand the "why's"?

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to me, I really appreciate it [emoji4]

In my experience (50 years plus), the young Radiated Tortoises don't bask under hot spots, so I don't give them any basking lights until they are about 8" or so in length.

I would recommend using Rep-Cal rather than plain calcium carbonate or simple calcium powder. Rep-Cal is a more natural form of calcium for them in my opinion and may also be easier for them to metabolize/utilize.

Get yourself a Solarmeter (the 6.5 model only) and test the UV reading at tortoise level under your UV light tube at various areas along the length of the bulb. I try to get an average reading of about 3.0 or a bit more for my younger Radiateds and a 4.5 for the juvenile to adult sizes. If you don't have one of these meters, you cannot tell how much UV they are actually receiving. Your babies may not have been getting enough UV to utilize the calcium you have been giving them, but you will never know without the meter. In case you are not aware, the UV reading can be adjusted by raising and lowering the height of the bulb above the substrate.
 
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Anyfoot

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Thanks so much for your reply. I forgot to mention that I also have a uvb tube but it's about 20" away & covers half of their tub & half of another tub with Leo hatchlings (that also shares their closed chamber). The uvb tube is on 7am-7pm & the basking uvb is on 4 hours a day in their tub.

Out of interest, why do you recommend removing the uvb basking bulb? Is it because a uvb tube is more effective/less damaging than the bulb?
Also, the 28-30C you recommend for the entire tub: what about heat gradients, should they have a warmer & cooler area for thermoregulation? Or are your suggestions a temp solution until the problem is fixed?

Sorry for all the questions, just wanting to understand the "why's"?

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to me, I really appreciate it [emoji4]
I don't think you should use anything that contributes to drying out the carapace at such a young age. The tube type UVB lights don't offer intense drying heat like basking lights.
I'm new with radiateds and learning but mine are at 28 to 32deg c and are fine. I use a CHE for heat and a 10.0 tube for UVB.

@zovick. When a tortoise is soft due to low calcium intake because of low D3 would you still soak daily?
 

T0rts

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In my experience (50 years plus), the young Radiated Tortoises don't bask under hot spots, so I don't give them any basking lights until they are about 8" or so in length.

I would recommend using Rep-Cal rather than plain calcium carbonate or simple calcium powder. Rep-Cal is a more natural form of calcium for them in my opinion and may also be easier for them to metabolize/utilize.

Get yourself a Solarmeter (the 6.5 model only) and test the UV reading at tortoise level under your UV light tube at various areas along the length of the bulb. I try to get an average reading of about 3.0 or a bit more for my younger Radiateds and a 4.5 for the juvenile to adult sizes. If you don't have one of these meters, you cannot tell how much UV they are actually receiving. Your babies may not have been getting enough UV to utilize the calcium you have been giving them, but you will never know without the meter. In case you are not aware, the UV reading can be adjusted by raising and lowering the height of the bulb above the substrate.
Thanks so much for your advice.

My radiateds are 3" & 3.5".

The calcium powder I've switched to is "calci-dust", is this the same as Rep-Cal? (It says on the back of the tub "a pure natural calcium compound feed material... ")

Thanks also for the UV reading recommendations, is this across their entire enclosure?
I do have one of those solarmeters (model 6.5). Under the basking area its 6.2, just outside the basking area it's about 1.2. Mine do occasionally use the basking area (6.5), but more often just outside that area in the 1.2-2.4 range. The rest of the table is very low 0.2 (as my uvb tube is currently too high to make any useful contribution!) ... I assumed they were getting enough UV from basking area... But guess from what you're saying they're not :(

Once I've got rid of the basking bulb & lowered the uv tube (so reading is 3.0), how many hours should I have the UV tube on for? Can they ever have too much UV? Do you have any old threads with photos of your setup/care etc that I can read through please?

Is a closed chamber suitable for radiateds? What should the humidity levels be?

Thanks again for your advice, I REALLY appreciate it :)
 

T0rts

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I don't think you should use anything that contributes to drying out the carapace at such a young age. The tube type UVB lights don't offer intense drying heat like basking lights.
I'm new with radiateds and learning but mine are at 28 to 32deg c and are fine. I use a CHE for heat and a 10.0 tube for UVB.

@zovick. When a tortoise is soft due to low calcium intake because of low D3 would you still soak daily?
Thanks for the info/advice.

They do occasionally bask directly under the bulb but mostly around the edge of it. Do you think the basking bulb is the cause of the shell problems? (Ie drying effects of bulb has resulted in softened shells?)

I do spray them & their soil daily, & give them baths twice a week. Is this OK?

Thanks so much for your help/advice, I really appreciate it :)
 

Anyfoot

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I'm wondering if the bounce your talking about is just natural growth. Is it spongy when you squeeze them or is it like a margarine carton and just some natural flex.
It's irrelevant what the reading is under the basking area if they don't use that area because it's too hot.
My 3ft uvb tube is over the feeding area, I soak them daily for 20mins in a tray under the UVB light.

Zovick helps me with this species.
 

Anyfoot

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I forgot to mention, I couldn't source out rep cal in the uk and import duties from USA would have priced me out. I'm using Nutrobal
image.jpg image.jpg
 

zovick

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Thanks for the info/advice.

They do occasionally bask directly under the bulb but mostly around the edge of it. Do you think the basking bulb is the cause of the shell problems? (Ie drying effects of bulb has resulted in softened shells?)

I do spray them & their soil daily, & give them baths twice a week. Is this OK?

Thanks so much for your help/advice, I really appreciate it :)

They don't like the area under the basking bulb because it is too much UV for them. However, I don't think that is the cause of the soft shells. I believe failure/lack of proper calcium uptake and adequate UV light is the culprit.

They don't want 6.2 on the Solarmeter, they want about 3.0. You need to get the right size/wattage tube light and mount it at a height where the reading directly under it is about 3.2 to 3.5. The tortoises will get directly under it or just a bit to the side of it as they wish. I leave mine on for 16 hours daily. When they've had enough, they will move away into an area where the reading is lower or into cover.

The calcium you mention is not Rep-Cal. Rep-Cal is a brand name and is ONLY a calcium source (no vitamins added as in Nutrobal). It is made from ground up oyster shells rather than by a chemical process as I would suspect the product you mentioned is made. Remember that if you use Rep-Cal, you will also need to use a separate vitamin supplement. I would recommend Herptivite.

Your tortoises need to be soaked daily in lukewarm water for 20 minutes or more regardless of whether you use a closed chamber or not. I don't use one, but keep my tortoises hydrated via daily soakings and a built-in humidifier in a dedicated tortoise room.
 
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zovick

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I don't think you should use anything that contributes to drying out the carapace at such a young age. The tube type UVB lights don't offer intense drying heat like basking lights.
I'm new with radiateds and learning but mine are at 28 to 32deg c and are fine. I use a CHE for heat and a 10.0 tube for UVB.

@zovick. When a tortoise is soft due to low calcium intake because of low D3 would you still soak daily?

Yes, Craig, I would still recommend daily soaking for every tortoise. It will not make the shell any softer and will help to prevent fecal impaction and pyramiding.
 

T0rts

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They don't like the area under the basking bulb because it is too much UV for them. However, I don't think that is the cause of the soft shells. I believe failure/lack of proper calcium uptake and adequate UV light is the culprit.

They don't want 6.2 on the Solarmeter, they want about 3.0. You need to get the right size/wattage tube light and mount it at a height where the reading directly under it is about 3.2 to 3.5. The tortoises will get directly under it or just a bit to the side of it as they wish. I leave mine on for 16 hours daily. When they've had enough, they will move away into an area where the reading is lower or into cover.

The calcium you mention is not Rep-Cal. Rep-Cal is a brand name and is ONLY a calcium source (no vitamins added as in Nutrobal). It is made from ground up oyster shells rather than by a chemical process as I would suspect the product you mentioned is made. Remember that if you use Rep-Cal, you will also need to use a separate vitamin supplement. I would recommend Herptivite.

Your tortoises need to be soaked daily in lukewarm water for 20 minutes or more regardless of whether you use a closed chamber or not. I don't use one, but keep my tortoises hydrated via daily soakings and a built-in humidifier in a dedicated tortoise room.
Wonderful! All makes perfect sense.. although I do feel I've completely failed them :(
I'll get onto all the changes you recommend straight away & hope things improve.

Thanks again for your help :) :)
 

Anyfoot

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Wonderful! All makes perfect sense.. although I do feel I've completely failed them :(
I'll get onto all the changes you recommend straight away & hope things improve.

Thanks again for your help :) :)
Can you pm me who you got them off please.
 

T0rts

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I'm wondering if the bounce your talking about is just natural growth. Is it spongy when you squeeze them or is it like a margarine carton and just some natural flex.
It's irrelevant what the reading is under the basking area if they don't use that area because it's too hot.
My 3ft uvb tube is over the feeding area, I soak them daily for 20mins in a tray under the UVB light.

Zovick helps me with this species.
It's like a margarine carton or like a 4-5 month old leo hatchlings shell. Maybe this is normal for this species???

Thanks for nutrobal info too - I already use this but zovick suggested I use repcal instead, will see how i get on sourcing this from US!
 

Anyfoot

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It's like a margarine carton or like a 4-5 month old leo hatchlings shell. Maybe this is normal for this species???

Thanks for nutrobal info too - I already use this but zovick suggested I use repcal instead, will see how i get on sourcing this from US!
I just checked mine and they still press in like a margarine carton on the plastrons. My redfoots are virtually hard at 12 months old. I think yours are from the same clutch as mine. If not the same clutch then definitely around the same time. CB mid 2016. ???? Let me see yours please.
 

T0rts

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I just checked mine and they still press in like a margarine carton on the plastrons. My redfoots are virtually hard at 12 months old. I think yours are from the same clutch as mine. If not the same clutch then definitely around the same time. CB mid 2016. ???? Let me see yours please.
Oh yours do the same too?? Maybe this is normal for this species then & nothing to worry about after all? Yes CB 2016 from the same breeder (doesn't say which month on certificate). The breeder did check all the shells (both carapace & plastron) of the babies he had left & advised they were all fine/hardened shells...
I'll upload photos now...
 

T0rts

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Oh yours do the same too?? Maybe this is normal for this species then & nothing to worry about after all? Yes CB 2016 from the same breeder (doesn't say which month on certificate). The breeder did check all the shells (both carapace & plastron) of the babies he had left & advised they were all fine/hardened shells...
I'll upload photos now...
Photos of the babies... Screenshot_20180129-205554.jpg Screenshot_20180129-205152.jpg Screenshot_20180129-205144.jpg
 

Anyfoot

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Told me first half of 2016. Thanks for photos. Yours look smoother than mine. I got what was left.
 
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