Marbling in cherryheads---different kinds?

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cdmay

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There was a thread a short time ago that brought up marbling in cherryhead redfoots. One person (Allegra, I think) mentioned that there seems to be a couple of differing forms of marbling in these animals, which is something I tend to agree with.
In most cases marbling consists of random white patches appearing in the newly grown areas of the carapace as in this yearling...

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On the plastron the marbling starts along the midline....

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At times the white patches can be pretty extensive and cover a good portion of the shell as in these two year old cherryheads...

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But then there seems to be another form of marbling that results in a brownish shell with radiating lines that sometimes form a star burst pattern. In my experience this type of marbling begins when the tortoise is quite young. Here are two hatchlings that are only a couple of months old that are clearly on their way to being really marbled...

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Up close you can see the lack of dark pigment...

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These two hatchlings are rather dull colored and for some reason I have noticed that many of the most extreme marbled cherryheads also tend to have little in the way of bright colors and are often shades of orange. Of course, I have also seen some screaming red animals that were exceptionally marbled too, but the marbled trait does seem to be associated somehow with other pigments besides black.
 

Hustler

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with mine i noticed the white isnt getting any whiter but it is spreading as it grows, I didnt get it as a hatchling so Im very curious if it was always marbled or if it developed as it grew? Time will tell i guess. Keeping torts is like keeping bonsia's its a lifetime achievement for sure lol
 

Madkins007

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Odd... in the first animal. the black pigment producing cells (the melanocytes?) seem to have turned off, then back on almost randomly. I've seen that in lots of pictures and always thought it was strange- not a lot of species do the 'color on, color off' thing.
 

Candy

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Carl are yours in the sun a lot of the time? Do you think that this has anything to do with it. I've heard others say that there's start to marble but when put out in the sun it stops. Do you find this to be true?
 

cdmay

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Candy said:
Carl are yours in the sun a lot of the time? Do you think that this has anything to do with it. I've heard others say that there's start to marble but when put out in the sun it stops. Do you find this to be true?

Candy....yes, mine get sun but in an off and on way until they are larger. Direct sunlight does seem to have an influence on the way marbling develops. Animals that can get access to direct sunlight get darker and usually the white marbled places turn tan colored after a few months. Nevertheless, some cherryheads will get a mottled appearance even when they have access to direct sunlight.
There is much to learn about this condition and how it relates to genetics and environment. But it is obvious that the 'cherryhead' type of redfoot is predisposed to marbling and even some wild caught cherryheads have this trait. Yet redfoots from other parts of their range never show any hint of marbling regardless of where they are raised.
I also wonder about many leopard tortoises that are raised indoors and that are often called 'blond' because of the large amount of white areas on their shells. I have first hand experience with some leopards that had been raised in a basement in Virginia before I got them. They were very pale and 'blond' when they came to me, but as soon as they went into my back yard and got direct sunlight all of the new growth they produced was quite black. You could see the difference in their shells just based on where they lived.
 

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Two years ago Pio had a nice bit of marbling coming in. Since she's been outside for the last two Summers, the marbling has almost disappeared. Sad, as I really love the look of a Cherry with all that marbling.
 

allegraf

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Those hatchlings of yours always marble so much! Only one of ours started its marbling with the grey/brown seams of new growth. That one is our most marbled one we produced so far and it is also not as colorful as the others. The others that we have that have started marbling initially appears as white specs between the scutes and eventually get bigger, like the one in the first two pics. This is the type that I think is more associated with new growth and less likely to last into adulthood but may be more colorful overall on the head and legs. The marbling that starts with the lighter seams may be the type that last longer. Most of the marbling fades with age on the torts and if they still have some, you can really only see it when the shells are wet.
 

Madkins007

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Allegra- all of the ones I got from you are marbling! I wonder how much care/habitat/environment affect this?
 

Madkins007

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I've got to apologize- my oldest daughter is the family photog and we've been trying to arrange a shoot for the little guys for 2 months now. We are trying again this afternoon, so fingers crossed!
 

EricIvins

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This is a Male who's marbleing is more shades of cream/orange......I'll have hatchlings from him this year, so I get to see how his offspring turn out......
 

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cdmay

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EricIvins said:
This is a Male who's marbleing is more shades of cream/orange......I'll have hatchlings from him this year, so I get to see how his offspring turn out......

Eric, was that male raised outside in the sunlight?
Your photos are great in that they show the shape differences between the sexes with males usually being narrow and the females being more rounded. Of course, they sometimes break the rules too but...
 

Madkins007

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Odd thought...

Could marbling be an environmentally triggered protective reaction? That is, is there a possibility that the conditions the neonate finds itself in trigger the reaction so the shell is less dark overall, and possibly better suited for camouflage in, say, grassier areas?

Just a thought- go ahead and discuss it amongst yourselves.
 

Hustler

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Well.... With asian arowanas.... prefferably golden crossbacks when kept in a tank with white bottom and white background they turn an amazing bright gold that will cross even over there head..... and that was unheard of even 5 years ago....for an ancient fish.... they call it white treatment.... huge debate as far as stress/health/true colors but still it seems to work for them...
Who knows...
 

cdmay

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Hustler said:
Well.... With asian arowanas.... prefferably golden crossbacks when kept in a tank with white bottom and white background they turn an amazing bright gold that will cross even over there head..... and that was unheard of even 5 years ago....for an ancient fish.... they call it white treatment.... huge debate as far as stress/health/true colors but still it seems to work for them...
Who knows...

That is true. In addition, the shells of various mud turtle species will become very pale or even bright yellow when they are raised on a white background.
 

Madkins007

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I may have to bounce this off my herpetology professor friend
 

allegraf

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I don't know if the stressful environment theory holds true as only 25% or so of my 2010s are marbling. The marbled ones are indispersed throughout different bins. Also with hatchlings, they are sensitive to stress and generally will show other signs of unhappiness, ie not eating, ill health, etc. I think genetics play a heavier role in "likelihood" of marbling, but it would be interesting to know if environment does effect the new growth. But as discussed previously, there are two different types of marbling. The two types being the one that happens along the growth lines and will likely darken with age and the one that appears to radiate from the areolas which doesn't fade as much. Curiouser and curiouser.

Allegra
 
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