Pyramiding on our Greek Tortoise- Help!

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samclau07

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Hey folks. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

Our greek tortoise, Pandora, is beginning to show signs of pyramiding. We have had her for about a year and a half. When we got her she was approximately 1.5 inches long, and is now over 6 inches long. We originally kept Pandora in a 2 foot by 3 foot enclosure with alfalfa hay as the bedding. We have switched to a 4 foot by 4 foot tortoise table with a substrate of 50% play sand and 50% bed a brick. Temperature ranges from 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit under her heat lamp. She also has a UVA/UVB lamp. Pandora is a fed a diet of dandelion greens, spring greens, and baby greens, along with a tortoise pellet food. She gets a calcium powder every few days and has access to a cuttle bone. She has access to water and gets soaked weekly. I've read differing things about what level humidity greeks need but a lower humidity seems to be more common so we have the humidity at about 45%. I think that covers everything.

Is the low humidity the culprit? What's the best humidity for her?
Is the substrate we're using adequate?

Thanks in advance!
 

Terry Allan Hall

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Could you post a pic, so we can see how bad the pyramiding is?

Do you spray Pandora a couple times a day? If not, you might consider adding that to her daily routine.

BTW, going from 1.5" to 6"+ in approx. 18 months is quite a growth rate...I'm guessing there's not much wrong w/ her appetitie! :)
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Samclau07:

Welcome to the forum!!

I don't keep Greek tortoises, and know next to nothing about them, but I can speak about pyramiding on sulcatas and other tortoises, and maybe its the same for Greeks???

Its usually caused by a lack of humidity during the early growth years...from hatch to about 3 years.

But there are other factors involved too: lack of exercise, eating too much. But I think the humidity thing is the biggest concern.
 

agiletorts

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What kind of greek tortoise is Pandora? Regardless, yes that growth rate is way too fast so maybe cut back on food and increase humidity. Also depending on the subspecies and health condition, consider hibernating her during this upcoming winter.
 

samclau07

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Thanks for giving me an excuse to take pictures of my baby! Now hopefully they worked! We were told that she is a Golden Greek. She certainly has grown quickly, but she does choose not to eat on some days. I mist Pandora and the substrate everyday to maintain the humidity, but could certainly do it more often if the humidity needs to be raised. The pyramiding is mostly on the back half of her shell- or is that just normal? To me it definitely looks like pyramiding.

Thanks for all the comments!

pandora.jpg
pandora 2.jpg
pandora 3.jpg
pandora 4.jpg
pandora 5.jpg
pandora 6.jpg
 
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Yvonne G

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From my limited experience with those type of tortoises I would have to say it is definitely NOT a golden. And the very slight bumpiness over the back hips is really not bad at all!
 

Missy

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What do you keep her in?? You could cover part with plastic glass and help keep the humidity in.
 

GBtortoises

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First, your tortoise appears to be an Ibera Greek (Testudo gracea ibera) and definitely not a Golden Greek.

The growth on your tortoise really isn't considered pyramiding and really does not look bad at all. It's very common for captive born and raised tortoises to grow that way. It is possible for them to be even smoother but yours is by no means pyramided or bad looking. You won't be able to alter it's growth pattern at this point anyway.

I've found that Greek tortoises and other Northern Mediterranean species raised from hatchlings grow much smoother and "wild looking" when kept at more varying temperatures and on a diet that is based on a large variety of quality foods rather than just large volumes of fewer foods. Mine are kept outdoors as much as possible, from about April through October, 24/7 where they are accustomed to temperatures that range as high the low 90's during the daytime and as low as the mid 40's at night. The average daytime temperatures are in the mid 70's to mid 80's, night time 50's to low 60's. Northern Mediterranean species typically do better with a 15-20 degree temperature difference from day to night. When indoors before hibernation in the fall, they are kept at temperatures in the low to mid 80's during the daytime and mid to high 60's at night. I would prefer they be kept even cooler at night but it's difficult to do indoors at my place.

I absolutely disagree about keeping Greek tortoises, especially northern species like yours in low humidity conditions. In fact just the opposite is true! Young, developing Greek tortoises especially require a higher ambient air humidity and even more importantly a fairly moist substrate in order to promote smooth growth. There may also be other contributing factors that contribute to pyramiding in captivity including but not limited to diet content and volume, excessive constant heat, over supplementation and lack of adequate activity. Many of these factors are debatable but worth mentioning anyway. The generally accepted culprit of pyramiding nowadays is a tortoise being kept too dry during it's major growth period.
 

agiletorts

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Yes Pandora is a female Ibera. I have some of those too and they can grow fast, unless you watch the diet. Mine didn't reach 6" until 3-4 years just fyi, and I thought that's already too fast. Hibernating her during winter would help curbing the growth rate too. But the other thing to consider is if you think your tortoise is healthy and well, why make a change? We're all have different way of raising a tortoise.
 

CGKeith

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Your tortoise looks great. Keep up the misting.

This is what pyramiding would look like without the humidity and/or misting.
IMG_0858.jpg
 

samclau07

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Thanks for all the great feedback! I already increased the humidity and we will cut back feeding to every other day. I know that any current bumpiness will always remain, but I definitely want to make sure I'm providing the best possible care for her.
 
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stells

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The more raised area is old growth... and its not bad... the newer growth all looks smooth i wouldn't worry about it...
 

tortoisenerd

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Not bad at all! Some torts are a bit lumpy (like mine). The humidity definitely can't hurt though. I personally would rather feed daily, whatever amount is appropriate. I don't see chubbiness in your photos, but agree that the growth has been fast (although this is very typical in captivity when you don't hibernate and feed higher calories). I would rather cut back the amount a bit and feed daily than feed every other day, because the tort won't understand why some days the food god shows up and some days it doesn't! See below about the pellets. Those are higher calorie so if you cut those out that can help a lot. Is 85 the max temperature? Typically a range available in the enclosure between 70 and 95 would be recommended. You can likely move the bulb/s down and raise the temps. Just ensure that you still have the lower ends of the temperature gradient as well. Use an accurate thermometer like a temp gun.

What type of tortoise pellet food? The typical pellet (the colored ones) are a bad choice--lots of artificial ingredients, vitamins, coloring, and high calorie and protein--these can cause accelerated growth and pyramiding. If you insist on feeding pellets as a small part of the diet (there is no need to), then use Mazuri Tortoise Diet or ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food. Everything else sounds good. FYI the more outdoor time she gets the more she will thrive. Just make sure the yard is chemical free, the enclosure is secure (you may need wire over the top due to predators), a hide and water is available, and the temps are suitable. Area to exercise and graze is the best thing you can do. Make sure you have replaced the UVB bulb as needed (6 months for the tube ones and 12 months for a Mercury Vapor Bulb). The Mercury Vapor Bulbs are the best your money can buy as far as UVB output. If you can get your tort out most days for a couple hours, you don't need a UVB bulb indoors.

Next substrate change I'd use a bit less play sand or none at all, but that coconut coir is a good choice. Personal choice, so see what you and your tort like. Keep is moist but not wet. You should be able to pick up a handful and squeeze it and have it hold shape, but not let out water. Every couple of days you will need to pour water on it and mix it up. Ensure you still maintain warm enough temperatures, because when you switch from a dry to a moist substrate, the humidity alone will really drop the temperatures. You should be checking the temperatures every day or every other day.
 

sjl

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I'm curious how you can tell she's an Ibera? I look at the coloration on her carapace, plastron, legs and head and think she looks a lot like the female T.t.anamurensis Danny posted (NOT contradicting even in the slightest - I'm trying to learn how you and the other great IDers do it :D). What am I looking for that makes her clearly not?

:shy:
 

GBtortoises

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Several identifying features identify your Greek tortoise as an Ibera tortoise, Testudo (gracea) ibera: General carpace patterns and coloration, head shape, the shape of the first vertabral scute, the size of the fifth vertabral scute and the shape of the rear plastral hinge seam to name the most prominent identifing features.

These above features are different than Middle Eastern species in which many of those same features also vary greatly among the different subspecies and even within some species from different locations.
 
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