Dented Tortoise Shell

HoneyBea23

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Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
32
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
Hi there! I was wondering if I could get some advice regarding my 6 month old Hermann's tortoise. Over time, their front two scutes have appeared to become dented inwards (with the rear always appearing dented from the moment I purchased them) and since I can't pinpoint what the causing source is, I am deeply worried that this may have negative health effects as they get older! Any further advice would be greatly appreciated!

Temperature - basking spot = 36 Degrees C, normal ambient = 28 Degrees C, nighttime ambient = 20 Degrees C

Humidity - 50-60% (sometimes around 65-70% after just wetting the substrate)

Substrate - Zoo Med Coco Coir

Light Source - Lucky Herp UVA UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb 80 Watts (since positioned on top of enclosure so closer to the ground and cannot be too hot)

Diet - Zoo Med Gourmet (but just the long fibre parts since others are too rubbery for them to chew), Lamb's Lettuce (also known as Mache lettuce) and periodically cucumber (just for hydration)
- I know that their diet isn't as varied as it should be, but during the winter in Canada, it has been hard to give as diverse of a diet as possible

IMG_2488.jpg IMG_2489.jpg
 

Yoyotort

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Jan 11, 2019
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26
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Oregon
Hello you should definitely research and probably get advise from more experienced tortoise owners then myself but I figured I would respond anyway. I’ve had a tort for a year and a half now I’m not sure what it could be but one thing could be calcium. Proper calcium and uv lights are one thing that can effect shell growth. Personally I use a calcium powered i sprinkle on my torts food. :)
 

ZDR94

New Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Abergavenny, Wales
Hi there! I was wondering if I could get some advice regarding my 6 month old Hermann's tortoise. Over time, their front two scutes have appeared to become dented inwards (with the rear always appearing dented from the moment I purchased them) and since I can't pinpoint what the causing source is, I am deeply worried that this may have negative health effects as they get older! Any further advice would be greatly appreciated!

Temperature - basking spot = 36 Degrees C, normal ambient = 28 Degrees C, nighttime ambient = 20 Degrees C

Humidity - 50-60% (sometimes around 65-70% after just wetting the substrate)

Substrate - Zoo Med Coco Coir

Light Source - Lucky Herp UVA UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb 80 Watts (since positioned on top of enclosure so closer to the ground and cannot be too hot)

Diet - Zoo Med Gourmet (but just the long fibre parts since others are too rubbery for them to chew), Lamb's Lettuce (also known as Mache lettuce) and periodically cucumber (just for hydration)
- I know that their diet isn't as varied as it should be, but during the winter in Canada, it has been hard to give as diverse of a diet as possible

View attachment 289205 View attachment 289206
Hi HoneyBea23, did you find a solution to this? If so please share. My torts shell is doing the same. After some research I’ve found that it could be a humidity problem (I’ve read we should be aiming for 80%) so I’ve added some sphagnum moss to his home hoping this will help. I’ve also read you can attach damp sponges to the top of the enclosure. Careful if you do either of these though as torts might try eat it (mine hasn’t).
 

ZDR94

New Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Abergavenny, Wales
Hi there! I was wondering if I could get some advice regarding my 6 month old Hermann's tortoise. Over time, their front two scutes have appeared to become dented inwards (with the rear always appearing dented from the moment I purchased them) and since I can't pinpoint what the causing source is, I am deeply worried that this may have negative health effects as they get older! Any further advice would be greatly appreciated!

Temperature - basking spot = 36 Degrees C, normal ambient = 28 Degrees C, nighttime ambient = 20 Degrees C

Humidity - 50-60% (sometimes around 65-70% after just wetting the substrate)

Substrate - Zoo Med Coco Coir

Light Source - Lucky Herp UVA UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb 80 Watts (since positioned on top of enclosure so closer to the ground and cannot be too hot)

Diet - Zoo Med Gourmet (but just the long fibre parts since others are too rubbery for them to chew), Lamb's Lettuce (also known as Mache lettuce) and periodically cucumber (just for hydration)
- I know that their diet isn't as varied as it should be, but during the winter in Canada, it has been hard to give as diverse of a diet as possible

View attachment 289205 View attachment 289206
Hi HoneyBea23, did you find a solution to this? My torts shell is doing the same. After some research I’ve found that it could be a humidity problem so I’ve added some moss to mine
 

nicoleann2214

Active Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
271
Location (City and/or State)
NY
Hi there! I was wondering if I could get some advice regarding my 6 month old Hermann's tortoise. Over time, their front two scutes have appeared to become dented inwards (with the rear always appearing dented from the moment I purchased them) and since I can't pinpoint what the causing source is, I am deeply worried that this may have negative health effects as they get older! Any further advice would be greatly appreciated!

Temperature - basking spot = 36 Degrees C, normal ambient = 28 Degrees C, nighttime ambient = 20 Degrees C

Humidity - 50-60% (sometimes around 65-70% after just wetting the substrate)

Substrate - Zoo Med Coco Coir

Light Source - Lucky Herp UVA UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb 80 Watts (since positioned on top of enclosure so closer to the ground and cannot be too hot)

Diet - Zoo Med Gourmet (but just the long fibre parts since others are too rubbery for them to chew), Lamb's Lettuce (also known as Mache lettuce) and periodically cucumber (just for hydration)
- I know that their diet isn't as varied as it should be, but during the winter in Canada, it has been hard to give as diverse of a diet as possible

View attachment 289205 View attachment 289206
@Yvonne G
 

ZDR94

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Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Abergavenny, Wales
Hi there! No, no one really responded to my inquiry :(
Does your tort dig down at night? Mine stopped for months but since I’ve made one end of the enclosure more humid he has been. I’ve researched it a lot and found that digging down helps with keeping the shell hydrated and it’s formation. So hoping this could have been the problem.

I see someone else mentioned it could be calcium but I sprinkle my torts food with calcium so I don’t think it’s that for me. But if you don’t already do this it is a good idea for torts kept indoors. I can send you the link of the one I buy if you need it
 

Krista S

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
52
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Hi there! No, no one really responded to my inquiry :(
Hi there. I’m a fellow Canadian Eastern Hermann’s tortoise owner. My little guy has the same thing going on with those same 3 scutes. I got him from a very reputable breeder at 4 months old and he will be 1 year old in the beginning of May. He had the indented scutes when I got him. I asked the breeder about it and she said it was not uncommon. I looked at all her other babies and they also had the same thing. At 6 months old I took my tortoise to a reptile vet and she also said it was nothing to worry about. Sounds weird for something like this to be “normal” but I have since seen many other ”Canadian“ captive bred baby Hermann’s and I see this more often than not...some more pronounced than others, but it’s almost always present. I’m not saying that this is a Canadian tortoise thing...just that most of the baby Hermann’s I’ve seen were captive bred in Canada. Seeing this made me feel a little better about it because in the beginning I was concerned about it too. I just make sure after I soak my tortoise that I don’t let water sit in those little dips. I feel as though as my tortoise is growing that those little dips/dents are becoming less pronounced.

With that said, if anyone else has any other information on this, I’d like to hear what others know about this.
 

ZDR94

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Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Abergavenny, Wales
Hi there. I’m a fellow Canadian Eastern Hermann’s tortoise owner. My little guy has the same thing going on with those same 3 scutes. I got him from a very reputable breeder at 4 months old and he will be 1 year old in the beginning of May. He had the indented scutes when I got him. I asked the breeder about it and she said it was not uncommon. I looked at all her other babies and they also had the same thing. At 6 months old I took my tortoise to a reptile vet and she also said it was nothing to worry about. Sounds weird for something like this to be “normal” but I have since seen many other ”Canadian“ captive bred baby Hermann’s and I see this more often than not...some more pronounced than others, but it’s almost always present. I’m not saying that this is a Canadian tortoise thing...just that most of the baby Hermann’s I’ve seen were captive bred in Canada. Seeing this made me feel a little better about it because in the beginning I was concerned about it too. I just make sure after I soak my tortoise that I don’t let water sit in those little dips. I feel as though as my tortoise is growing that those little dips/dents are becoming less pronounced.

With that said, if anyone else has any other information on this, I’d like to hear what others know about this.
Hi Nicole and Krista, good to hear from you Krista. It’s quite reassuring to hear that you’re not the only one struggling with this problem. I have since spoken to my breeder and she has said that it’s the early signs of pyramiding. It’s likely caused from a mixture of over feeding and not enough humidity. She also pointed out that the tortoise needs to bury to sleep when they’re young in order for the shell to develop properly (mine has been doing this since I increased humidity). I previously mentioned adding sphagnum moss to the enclosure to increase humidity but my breeder since told me I should remove it as it can cause respiratory problems for tort! I’ve instead opted for some damp sponges attached to the top of his home (out of reach to prevent him trying to eat them). I hope this helps you both
 

LasTortugasNinja

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Mar 17, 2020
Messages
424
Location (City and/or State)
Ut
At many nurseries, you can find sphagnum moss mulch (purely organic). I mix it with orchard bark and play sand. Helps absorb water for humidity without looking like food or causing dust.
 

Krista S

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
52
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Hi Nicole and Krista, good to hear from you Krista. It’s quite reassuring to hear that you’re not the only one struggling with this problem. I have since spoken to my breeder and she has said that it’s the early signs of pyramiding. It’s likely caused from a mixture of over feeding and not enough humidity. She also pointed out that the tortoise needs to bury to sleep when they’re young in order for the shell to develop properly (mine has been doing this since I increased humidity). I previously mentioned adding sphagnum moss to the enclosure to increase humidity but my breeder since told me I should remove it as it can cause respiratory problems for tort! I’ve instead opted for some damp sponges attached to the top of his home (out of reach to prevent him trying to eat them). I hope this helps you both
Thanks for the info, it’s an interesting theory. I soak my tortoise everyday and carefully monitor and keep his humidity levels where they should be. His shell is as smooth as can be, so there are no signs of pyramiding from his first year of life. I’ve seen so many baby Hermann’s tortoises with this same thing, so I don’t know if I agree with it being a humidity issue. You mentioned burrowing is required for healthy shell growth. Thankfully my little guy has always borrowed to sleep at night. The first night I got scared because I couldn’t find him and there were no clues of where he went. I guess for some reason I didn’t think he’d be capable of burrowing because he was so small...32 grams at the time. It’s incredible how strong they are, even when they’re tiny.
 

ZDR94

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Joined
Apr 6, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Abergavenny, Wales
Thanks for the info, it’s an interesting theory. I soak my tortoise everyday and carefully monitor and keep his humidity levels where they should be. His shell is as smooth as can be, so there are no signs of pyramiding from his first year of life. I’ve seen so many baby Hermann’s tortoises with this same thing, so I don’t know if I agree with it being a humidity issue. You mentioned burrowing is required for healthy shell growth. Thankfully my little guy has always borrowed to sleep at night. The first night I got scared because I couldn’t find him and there were no clues of where he went. I guess for some reason I didn’t think he’d be capable of burrowing because he was so small...32 grams at the time. It’s incredible how strong they are, even when they’re tiny.
Mine has no signs of pyramiding either yet thankfully. His shell looks dented in between some of the scutes but apparently this is the start of pyramiding. Ah yes I was worried when mine dug down too. He’s stopped after a while but have now realised this is because it wasn’t humid enough, glad I’ve corrected this now! 32 grams 😍 I’m really pleased that maybe it’s not lack of humidity as I feel so awful at the thought it’s my fault. How old is your Herman’s and how much does he weigh (if you don’t mind me asking)?
 

Krista S

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Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
52
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Mine has no signs of pyramiding either yet thankfully. His shell looks dented in between some of the scutes but apparently this is the start of pyramiding. Ah yes I was worried when mine dug down too. He’s stopped after a while but have now realised this is because it wasn’t humid enough, glad I’ve corrected this now! 32 grams 😍 I’m really pleased that maybe it’s not lack of humidity as I feel so awful at the thought it’s my fault. How old is your Herman’s and how much does he weigh (if you don’t mind me asking)?
My tortoise will be 1 year old in a couple of weeks. He is 7.5 cm long and was 84 grams when I weighed him yesterday. His birth mom (the breeder) said he was the runt of his clutch so it’s my understanding that he may be a little small for his age, but they all grow at different rates. I can’t believe he’s already turning 1. He has brought so much light into my life and I feel very lucky to have him. In the attached picture you can see those 2 front scutes and how they go inward a bit.
 

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ZDR94

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Apr 6, 2020
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Abergavenny, Wales
My tortoise will be 1 year old in a couple of weeks. He is 7.5 cm long and was 84 grams when I weighed him yesterday. His birth mom (the breeder) said he was the runt of his clutch so it’s my understanding that he may be a little small for his age, but they all grow at different rates. I can’t believe he’s already turning 1. He has brought so much light into my life and I feel very lucky to have him. In the attached picture you can see those 2 front scutes and how they go inward a bit.
Awwww he’s lush 😍😍 whats his name? He sits in how dish just like mine! Those little back legs 😍 and his scutes dip inward just like mine too (though mine has dented scutes along the top of his shell also😔). Ahhh ok, yeh it’s hard to know what size they should be (especially as I don’t know anyone else who has a tort!). I’m really glad you’re enjoying him, I feel the same about mine. He’s so adventurous and mischievous!
 

jeneliza

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Mar 30, 2020
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529
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burton michigan
Awwww he’s lush 😍😍 whats his name? He sits in how dish just like mine! Those little back legs 😍 and his scutes dip inward just like mine too (though mine has dented scutes along the top of his shell also😔). Ahhh ok, yeh it’s hard to know what size they should be (especially as I don’t know anyone else who has a tort!). I’m really glad you’re enjoying him, I feel the same about mine. He’s so adventurous and mischievous!
I don't know , about this breed and the shell , however growth rate is different for all tortoises, as long as he's eating , pooping, and growing, you shouldn't worry to much about growth unless he's really growing fast or not growing at all, he's growth should be good,
 

Krista S

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Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
52
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Awwww he’s lush 😍😍 whats his name? He sits in how dish just like mine! Those little back legs 😍 and his scutes dip inward just like mine too (though mine has dented scutes along the top of his shell also😔). Ahhh ok, yeh it’s hard to know what size they should be (especially as I don’t know anyone else who has a tort!). I’m really glad you’re enjoying him, I feel the same about mine. He’s so adventurous and mischievous!
Thank you! They are so precious, aren’t they?! His name is Dozer and he too is adventurous and mischievous...and very opinionated, stubborn and picky for such a little thing. 😂
 

ZDR94

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Apr 6, 2020
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Abergavenny, Wales
At many nurseries, you can find sphagnum moss mulch (purely organic). I mix it with orchard bark and play sand. Helps absorb water for humidity without looking like food or causing dust.
Hey just to share some knowledge.. my breeder has advised me not to use sphagnum moss as it can cause respiratory problems. I have removed it and instead attached some damp sponges at the top of the enclosure (out of reach to avoid the temptation to nibble). The sponges are actually working much better as they don’t dry out as quickly as the moss did.
 

LasTortugasNinja

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Mar 17, 2020
Messages
424
Location (City and/or State)
Ut
Hey just to share some knowledge.. my breeder has advised me not to use sphagnum moss as it can cause respiratory problems. I have removed it and instead attached some damp sponges at the top of the enclosure (out of reach to avoid the temptation to nibble). The sponges are actually working much better as they don’t dry out as quickly as the moss did.
Everyone has different answers. There are different types of sphagnum moss. There is the dried moss, which is light greenish and "lacy" and there is the mulch, which is similar to peat moss, which is what I use. I use mixes of substrate for all my reptiles, because if you look at the ground outside in the "wilds" it's not all just one thing. My substrate is a combo of coco coir, sphagnum moss, sand, topsoil, and fir & dry pine chips, and leaf litter. It packs down great, holds humidity really well, and works for every type of reptile, because you can adjust how much of the various levels to meet the needs of different lifestyles.
Whatever works for you and your tort is great!
 
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