GOOD PURCHASING AGE? OPINIONS

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wellington

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I used to breed Chinese Shar-Pei. I never let my puppies go to it's new home until it was 12 weeks. I did this, so I could make sure he/she got at least 3 of the needed 4 puppy shots. I gave my puppies the best start possible, before sending them off to their new caretakers. I also had a rock solid purchasing contract and a perspective buyer interview. Most people thought it would be easier to buy a mansion, then one of my puppies.
My question is this. At what age should a tortoise/turtle be sold? How young is too young? Is there much of a difference between selling one at 6 weeks to selling one at 8 weeks, or even 12 weeks. At what age would you say they are safe from getting "hatchling failure syndrome"?
Thank you all in advance for you thoughts and opinions:D
 

Katherine

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I like to keep my hatchlings for a minimum of 7-10 weeks. By that age they are usually able to right themselves quickly it they've flipped over, have healthy appetites for a variety of healthy foods, will drink without encouragement and have fused a solid plastron with no soft spot from the yolk sac. I screen all new owners to make sure they are up for the lifelong commitment of tortoise love and might occasionally be amenable to an earlier adoption to someone with prior experience well versed in their care but generally 7-10weeks is my minimum comfort zone. Relocation is always stressful and the 'hardier' a tortoise is the better equipped to deal with those stresses, a few months gives me ample time to fatten them up, hydrate them thoroughly and drench them in sunlight in preparation. I like to think I give them a solid jumpstart in life before they have to travel. Also, I always send the new owners with detailed care sheets, reptile vet contact info, multiple ways to reach me and ask them to agree that if some reason they can not or chose not to care for the animal any longer that it be returned to me no questions asked.

**also wanted to add that I almost always advise first time tortoises owners to consider a yearling over a hatchling, they are much more forgiving whilst one overcomes the 'learning curve' of tortoise care
 

Jacqui

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:D So much easier with dogs, cats, or just about any other animal to answer this question.

I really dislike the term ""hatchling failure syndrome", because it can mean so many things to different folks and can appear at an older age then just hatchling. A failure to thrive may be from the care it got, the care it's parents got before that egg was ever even laid, or just a weakness inside the tortoise for no apparent reason at all.

The older the animal, the better it is for selling (as long as the seller is actually keeping the animal correctly) in my opinion. This also varies by species to me, some types are just more fragile. Who is buying the animal should factor in to the equation also. Do they have experience? Where do they live? Time of year?
 

GBtortoises

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I agree with Jacqui. I also dislike the term "hatching failure syndrome" or any synonym of it. Yes, there are likely some genetic weaknesses that may cause a tortoise's early death, but probably fewer than people are blaming. The parents quality of care may also be a factor in some cases. Quite often a hatchling dies either due to poor care including dehydration. For whatever reason people seem to think that hatchlings are more delicate than adults. I have never believed or seen that to be the case. In the wild they must survive on their own once out of the nest, in the same environment at the adults. If they are so "delicate" how do so many survive? In captivity many are kept so warm that they have a difficult time remaining hydrated due to their small body mass. In the meantime they are being stuffed full of an amount of vitamins and food in general that far exceeds what they would consume in nature in the same period of time.
Again, agreeing with Jacqui; some species may be more difficult to maintain (fragile) in captivity. But I think is based more on our lack of knowledge of their specific micro-climates more than anything else. Many species that were thought of as "almost impossible" to keep in captivity 20+ years ago are now either commonly kept and bred in captivity or beginning to be so. Species such as Stars, Spiders, Impressed tortoises and others, as well as many terrestrial turtle species were at one time considered "very difficult" to keep alive in captivity. Many of those same species are now thriving in captivity with the proper care.
I only believe that hatchlings are not a good size to start with because of potential new keeper inexperience, not because of "hatchling failure syndrome". Maybe the term should be more accurately renamed "new keeper failure syndrome"?
 

Neal

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Jacqui said:
The older the animal, the better it is for selling (as long as the seller is actually keeping the animal correctly) in my opinion. This also varies by species to me, some types are just more fragile. Who is buying the animal should factor in to the equation also. Do they have experience? Where do they live? Time of year?

I don't have much to add to what Jacqui has said here other than I think that the buyer has the bigger responsibility of making sure they understand completely what they are getting into. The buyers level of experience will determine the ideal purchasing age for a tortoise. Obviously an older tortoise will be more forgiving of possible newbie mistakes.

My opinion: A good purchasing age for a newbie would be 6 months to a year or older. For someone with a bit more experience, any age would be ideal based on what the buyer is looking for.

As a rule of thumb, when we retail our tortoises to the general public we sell tortoises that show steady growth and a good level of activity. We can usually determine that between 1 month and 3 months of age. Wholesale hatchlings are sent to more experienced keepers as soon as a day after the yolk sac has been absorbed.
 

Tom

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There are many factors to consider in this question. Like everyone else, I think the whole "hatchling failure syndrome" is hogwash. It is a BS term created to cover up the horrible care given to so many hatchlings by so many breeders. How come the people who keep their babies hydrated and warm don't experience any "hatchling failure syndrome"?

When I make a decision about what age to sell or give away a baby, it depends on who it's going to and how it's getting there. If it is going to a very experienced keeper within driving distance, I will let it go at whatever age they want it. If they wanted come come get it right after hatching and do the brooder box thing themselves, I would allow that. If its going to a new keeper with no experience, I would want the baby to be a little bigger. I go by size, not age. For a newbie, I'd want a sulcatas baby to be around 80 to 100 grams. If the baby is started right and the new keeper does daily warm soaks and has the right temperature gradients and set up, there should be no problem.

If however, the tortoise was purchased from a breeder or pet store that kept them dry on rabbit pellets, with no water bowl, I think a larger tortoise will give a person a greater chance of survival and success.

If it has to be shipped, I try to wait for the 60 gram mark, but again, I will make exceptions for a very experienced keeper or someone that I believe knows what they are doing and is already showing successful tortoise keeping skills with other tortoises.

Here are two points to consider too: If I can get a brand spanking' new hatchling, I can raise it the way I know to be "right". I can minimize any damage done by incorrect keeping methods, like dehydration. If I buy an older one I would have to trust that the person did things correctly and kept that baby properly hydrated and started it correctly. That is a big leap of faith for me given all the different factors and opinions on how to keep them. There a lots and lots of little things I do to start my babies out right. They get their first warm soak literally the day they decide to climb out of their egg and every day after that. They get a soak every day while I clean out their brooder boxes and give them fresh dampened paper towels. They continue to get daily soaks once I move them into a regular enclosure after their umbilical scars close up. I give them their eggshells to nibble on in the brooder box too. Their first meals happen in the brooder box and they get a huge variety from day one. Cactus, several types of grass, all sorts of weeds, leaves, occasional flowers, spring mix, calcium supplements, etc... They get she'll sprayed several times a day. They are introduced to the humid hide box. They get warm CA sunshine from day one... All these things make a huge difference down the road. So, WHO you are buying from makes an ENORMOUS difference in the recommend age and size for selling, and an ENORMOUS difference in a person's success or failure down the road.
 

tortuga_please

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I think the 'hatchling failure syndrome' was referring to the high mortality rates cause by how fragile hatchlings are with new/inexperienced keepers; I read it as new keepers needing something sturdier BECAUSE they cause hatchling's problems. However, I have 2 things to add:

I don't think anyone should try a hatchling until they have raised a yearling,AND I think that anyone buying a Sulcata should have to visit a full grown one first. All of the larger turtles/tortoises, might cut down on the abandoning problem. Also very tired of the 'keep it in a small enclosure to keep it small' nonsense.
 

Katherine

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Sorry if this is a bit off topic, please feel free to move or delete if it doesn't belong here just seeking a little clarification on the term that keeps surfacing....

tortuga_please said:
I think the 'hatchling failure syndrome' was referring to the high mortality rates cause by how fragile hatchlings are with new/inexperienced keepers; I read it as new keepers needing something sturdier BECAUSE they cause hatchling's problems. .
It seems to me that "hatchling failure syndrome" has a preexisiting definition on the forum but I am unable to locate it? To me, 'hatchling failure syndrome' reads as a bogus name for a dead/dying/failing to thrive hatchling who *has been receiving quality hatchling care* thus leading the keepers to erroneously believe it was simply not 'destined' to make it. I believe hatchlings of poorly kept adults are often born with a huge disadvantage often suffering from calcium and other deficits...In a situation like this a new owner could provide quality care that would suffice for a healthy hatchling and still not meet the needs of their disadvantaged new tortoise, leading to the coining of this phrase. If this is NOT what 'hatchling failure syndrome' is an effort to describe can someone hook me up with a forum lingo dictionary? : ) Also add a +1 to the motion of a new name but I'd like to add "breeder failure syndrome" to ballot with "new keeper failure syndrome" ...two separate but equally destructive ailments if ignorance.

I agree with Tom and others who have stated the importance of early hatchling care as a huge factor in hatchling health but think its also important to remember that the eggs are laid by someone's adult female tortoise- and if SHE is poorly maintained or in poor health her offspring may pay the price for it. Proper hatchling care (in my opinion obviously) starts with choosing healthy breeders.
 

Tom

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Katherine, I love your suggestion for the two new terms. Those two phrases cover 99.9% of every baby tortoise death I've ever seen.

I did a thread on HFS a while back. I can't figure out how to link it with an IPad, but if you do a search it's in the debatable section under my name and titled "Hatchling Failure Syndrome". Maybe someone on a real computer can link it for me... Please... Anyhow, the thread and all the responses to it, might explain more about it.

For tortuga_please, I often hear about the fragility of hatchlings and from time to time a new member will join up trying to save their baby here on the forum. This is terribly sad, but I have to agree with GB, in that I don't find hatchlings to be any less hardy or more fragile than yearlings or juveniles. If their needs are met they all survive just fine. I will concede that due to their size, mistakes can do more harm in a smaller amount of time, but that does not make me consider them more fragile.

... Just a point of discussion that seems relavant to the original topic.
 

wellington

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I don't know where or when the phrase came about. I only added it because I see it used often on here. Not sure if it should be changed or not. However I do feel it could be used by some to justify the death of their tort, when in fact it may have been the owners lack of knowledge and care. I also do agree a lot has to do with the care of the parents and the hatching care and methods. At least in dogs, cats, most animals, the parents care or lack of can reflect in their offspring, as well as the babies care or lack of in their first days can reflect in the rest of their lives.

So, my understanding of the majority so far is this. Age is no major concern, as long as the perspective buyer is educated on the species in question and the species in question was hatched and cared for properly. Please correct me if I am wrong.
 

Jacqui

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katherine said:
Sorry if this is a bit off topic, please feel free to move or delete if it doesn't belong here just seeking a little clarification on the term that keeps surfacing....

tortuga_please said:
I think the 'hatchling failure syndrome' was referring to the high mortality rates cause by how fragile hatchlings are with new/inexperienced keepers; I read it as new keepers needing something sturdier BECAUSE they cause hatchling's problems. .
It seems to me that "hatchling failure syndrome" has a preexisiting definition on the forum but I am unable to locate it? To me, 'hatchling failure syndrome' reads as a bogus name for a dead/dying/failing to thrive hatchling who *has been receiving quality hatchling care* thus leading the keepers to erroneously believe it was simply not 'destined' to make it. I believe hatchlings of poorly kept adults are often born with a huge disadvantage often suffering from calcium and other deficits...In a situation like this a new owner could provide quality care that would suffice for a healthy hatchling and still not meet the needs of their disadvantaged new tortoise, leading to the coining of this phrase. If this is NOT what 'hatchling failure syndrome' is an effort to describe can someone hook me up with a forum lingo dictionary? : ) Also add a +1 to the motion of a new name but I'd like to add "breeder failure syndrome" to ballot with "new keeper failure syndrome" ...two separate but equally destructive ailments if ignorance.

I agree with Tom and others who have stated the importance of early hatchling care as a huge factor in hatchling health but think its also important to remember that the eggs are laid by someone's adult female tortoise- and if SHE is poorly maintained or in poor health her offspring may pay the price for it. Proper hatchling care (in my opinion obviously) starts with choosing healthy breeders.

It's more the fact that the terminology of what would fall under the failure label that I have issues with. For instance if somebody gets a group of hatchlings and all but one fails to grow as it should, does that animal fall under the same label? To me it does, to others it does not. Even with humans, we have specimens who have under lying problems, that can not be finger pointed back to any one cause. I totally agree, you have to start with the health and care of the parents, no matter if your talking tortoises, dogs, chimps, or humans. I just think we are too quick to lay blame on the last person working with the animal when the animals die, especially hatchlings... just my opinions.
 
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