The End Of Pyramiding II-The Leopards

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tyguy35

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Hey I'm new to the tortoise thing, about 2 months ago I got a baby leopard babcocki I'm keeping him on Eco earth with on side topped with hay his hid is a half log underneath the hay. Does that sound like an ok setting? So basically if I keep him hydrated which I do have a water dish he drinks from and if I spray him with water he won't or shouldn't pyramid. Also I should spray his substrate all of it? And how wet? How wet whould his hide be btw his hides just beside the heat lamp. Oh and at his small size I can still let him run around the yard permittig safe?

Thanks
 

Tom

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This was written for sulcatas, but I house my leopards the same way. It is very different than what you describe for your set up. You must decide how you'd prefer to do it.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-How-To-Raise-Sulcata-Hatchlings-and-Babies#axzz1TX1kaAB9

I like to put babies out in the sun for an hour or two every day in some sort of safe enclosure. I always give them a good soak after sunning. As they get older and bigger, I leave them out longer and longer, until they live outside full time. If you are in Ontario, CA this will work for you too. If you are in Ontario Canada, yours will have to be inside all winter.
 

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tyguy35 said:
Hey I'm new to the tortoise thing, about 2 months ago I got a baby leopard babcocki I'm keeping him on Eco earth with on side topped with hay his hid is a half log underneath the hay. Does that sound like an ok setting? So basically if I keep him hydrated which I do have a water dish he drinks from and if I spray him with water he won't or shouldn't pyramid. Also I should spray his substrate all of it? And how wet? How wet whould his hide be btw his hides just beside the heat lamp. Oh and at his small size I can still let him run around the yard permittig safe?

Thanks

I would use a plastic shoebox for a humid hide instead of the log, and just keep the substrate inside the plastic shoebox damp to the touch...everything else will be fine if it is kept dry. I would recomend either taking out the hay, or seperating it from the eco earth with some rocks or bricks...the hay will mold if it gets wet...plus it just looks better seperated in my opinion. :)

Personally, I don't spray my baby leopards unless they are outside, and that's just to cool them off...I don't think it is necessary to prevent pyramiding as long as you are keeping him well hydrated.

Outside time is great at any size, just make sure he will have easy access to shaded and cool areas out of the direct sunlight. I have a few hatchlings that just hatched this last week and they've spent the entire day yesterday and today outside.
 

tyguy35

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Ontario Canada. Thanks for your replies really helped. I wasn't thinking when I payed the hay it was used for a ramp basically to the top the log house it works well I put it there cause he constantly climbs everything and fall upside down. But the hay is basically all under the heat lamp not think ling I've been spraying the hay side. Dries up pretty fast but still I should remove it. Also I'm wanting to get another but the opposite sex there's no way to tell the sex of mine now right he's she ls about 2 and HalF months. Thanks Tyler. Trying to make the best life possible.
 

DiannaandLeah

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Hi Tom,
Love your advise and take it to heart. I'm not sure if you've seen my post days ago about finding a baby Leo, but anyway, I will try and post pics, it appears to me like she (not sure of sex again when I post pics I would love info.) it pryamiding,middle of her shell is spiking up like a ridge back sort of. I'm doing all the things you have recommended, high humidity,soaks and spraying through the day but..is pryamiding reveiseable? Could it have happened in just a few days of dehydration? She ws found in TX (100+ degree days) not sure how long she wandered. I'll post and wait for now. Thanks again for sharing all of your great experience it really helps us newbies out tons!
Peace-
Dianna
 

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DiannaandLeah said:
Hi Tom,
Love your advise and take it to heart. I'm not sure if you've seen my post days ago about finding a baby Leo, but anyway, I will try and post pics, it appears to me like she (not sure of sex again when I post pics I would love info.) it pryamiding,middle of her shell is spiking up like a ridge back sort of. I'm doing all the things you have recommended, high humidity,soaks and spraying through the day but..is pryamiding reveiseable? Could it have happened in just a few days of dehydration? She ws found in TX (100+ degree days) not sure how long she wandered. I'll post and wait for now. Thanks again for sharing all of your great experience it really helps us newbies out tons!
Peace-
Dianna

Pyramiding takes time and growth in the wrong conditions to develop. It is not reversable, but you can improve things and get the new growth to start coming in smoother. Plus, the right conditions will just keep your tortoise healthier and well hydrated.

I have some baby South African Leopards still available, if you want to PM me.
 

DiannaandLeah

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Thanks for the info., ohhh Tom let me figure out this little one before I start adding to the lot. :) I will keep watching for your post I really love your style and great advice! Peace out-Dianna and Peep :)
 

paper_boy

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tom do you think this heavy humidity thing would work on radiatas? After seeing you're results, I'm pretty much sold on doing the same
 

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I think so, but I have never done it. I would take advice from someone who has successfully raised smooth radiata before. Hopefully you can find someone from a climate similar to yours.
 

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Just read through this entire thread too. 1st off... Great work, Tom!

I went to the Sacramento reptile show this weekend, and every Leo I saw that was more than a few months old were badly pyramided... Me, not knowing about this breed specifically, I thought "must be one of those breeds that are just like that" Boy was I wrong!
I have been kicking the idea around of a redfoot, box turtle or a Leo in addition to the Sully I have now, so I came in to this thread and all your talk about having some babies still is seriously tempting my check book. Hahaha

Side note: I asked one of the larger enclosure/supply vendors at the show about a misting system for my little Pepé (since they seemed to specialize in sulcatas) The older gent who said he has 5+ LARGE sullys himself and sees no reason to even allow them water every day. I bit my tongue, since there was a line, but it really made my blood boil. He even said that a lot of people have been tossing around that idea lately of keeping em humid and moist, and that it "made no sense"

I'm completely on board, Tom. I hope your findings help change the way people perceive the needs of their torts, and the old torturous ways will then seem archaic.
 

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WOW! Very impressed and pleased to read this incredibly long thread about your experiementation with humidity : ) Sounds like you are right on track and I am extremely curious to find out how these guys will turn out further down the line! Interestingly I have lived in naturally high humidity areas and offered additional HIGHER humidity retreats ( but without ever forcing entry into them, so couldn't say definitively how much time was spent there ) my entire tortoise owning life and still notice pyramiding on my leopards. [i know i mentioned this to you elsewhere but i had NO IDEA you had this massive investigation launched;) ] Anyways it is a HUGE source of frustration and although it doesnt seem to affect their overall well being it is obviously unnatural and while I strive hard to provide optimal conditions and diets I have had no leads on how to correct or prevent the pyramiding of leopard tortoises in the future. Hopefully you hold the KEY. Great work and thank you for sharing this information for the betterment of Pardalis everywhere : )
 

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katherine said:
WOW! Very impressed and pleased to read this incredibly long thread about your experiementation with humidity : ) Sounds like you are right on track and I am extremely curious to find out how these guys will turn out further down the line! Interestingly I have lived in naturally high humidity areas and offered additional HIGHER humidity retreats ( but without ever forcing entry into them, so couldn't say definitively how much time was spent there ) my entire tortoise owning life and still notice pyramiding on my leopards. [i know i mentioned this to you elsewhere but i had NO IDEA you had this massive investigation launched;) ] Anyways it is a HUGE source of frustration and although it doesnt seem to affect their overall well being it is obviously unnatural and while I strive hard to provide optimal conditions and diets I have had no leads on how to correct or prevent the pyramiding of leopard tortoises in the future. Hopefully you hold the KEY. Great work and thank you for sharing this information for the betterment of Pardalis everywhere : )

How often would your tortoises have access to drinking water as they were growing up?
 

Tom

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Thanks Katherine. I'm curious about the drinking water too. And soaking. How often and for how long?

Neal keeps his baby leopards in outdoor pens all day in the hot dry AZ sunshine, but brings them into to sleep in a humid enclosure at night. He and I have talked about the importance of keeping them hydrated as a means of preventing/reducing pyramiding. I have seen pics of Neal's tortoises and they are stunning and very smooth.

On a related note, I got some pics this weekend of some empty leopard tortoise shells. They showed a clear difference between MBD, pyramided but otherwise healthy and several variations, including one sulcata shell that I refer to as "the kitchen sink". One of the leopard shells showed that horrid pyramiding that we have all seen, but the bone growth was still very solid, dense and healthy looking. This tortoise lived outside in the sun and showed no sign of the porosity that we usually see in heavily pyramided skeletons. I'll do a post on these sometime soon.
 

Katherine

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Neal said:
katherine said:
WOW! Very impressed and pleased to read this incredibly long thread about your experiementation with humidity : ) Sounds like you are right on track and I am extremely curious to find out how these guys will turn out further down the line! Interestingly I have lived in naturally high humidity areas and offered additional HIGHER humidity retreats ( but without ever forcing entry into them, so couldn't say definitively how much time was spent there ) my entire tortoise owning life and still notice pyramiding on my leopards. [i know i mentioned this to you elsewhere but i had NO IDEA you had this massive investigation launched;) ] Anyways it is a HUGE source of frustration and although it doesnt seem to affect their overall well being it is obviously unnatural and while I strive hard to provide optimal conditions and diets I have had no leads on how to correct or prevent the pyramiding of leopard tortoises in the future. Hopefully you hold the KEY. Great work and thank you for sharing this information for the betterment of Pardalis everywhere : )

How often would your tortoises have access to drinking water as they were growing up?

Everyday. We soaked them too daily at first, then every 3-4 days after a year of age, then roughly weekly until they finally figured out to get in and out of the water themselves. They never had any problems drinking though. I have Sulcatas too- raised in near identical conditions with no pyramiding problems. Opinions and advice welcome.
View attachment 14143 View attachment 14145 View attachment 14146

** just a quick note that the lighter colored male whos photo i attached has a bunch of crazy scutes but came to us that way (as a hatchling) from a reputable source who was well aware of the problem but didnt know why. I read early in this this thread that you noticed the split scute babies seemed to lean closer to pyramiding...makes me curious if it could be genetic at all, but my other regular scute leopards are also pyramided : ( so confusing and frustrating!
 
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Tom

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In my experience the leopards do seem more prone to pyramiding in captivity. I think they are the most prone to it in fact. I was seeing rougher, more pronounced growth lines on my leos that had the split scutes, vs. the ones who didn't. It was as if everything just didn't line up the way it was supposed to. Since the time of that post, things have sort of leveled and smoothed out. I had one that was starting to grow crooked. One vertebral scute was sort of twisted in place. Because of that, I decided not to sell that one and figured I'd be stuck with it. Well now, a year later, it has really straightened out and "normalized" and I have trouble even telling which one it was.

Neal has been growing smooth ones for a while now and so have I. My method is to keep their indoor pens damp, warm and very humid. I also offer a humid hide box and spray their shells with water several times a day. Terry K. and Richard Fife taught me that technique actually. I also soak everyday for the first year or so and then taper it off like you do. I make sure that they have a shallow water bowl to drink from all the time. So far all these things together are working well for me. Other people have variations of these things and variable results to go with it.

One key is that this all happens very early. The pattern for growth, either smooth or pyramided, is established in the first few weeks or months of life. Its really hard to stop it once it starts, but if you switch them into the right conditions before a certain point in their growth, then they will begin to smooth out and the damage will be minimized.

Katherine your leopards look far better than most. I think they look great. In the one pic you can see how the growth lines change pretty drastically, signifying different conditions during periods of growth.
 

Katherine

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Tom said:
In my experience the leopards do seem more prone to pyramiding in captivity. I think they are the most prone to it in fact. I was seeing rougher, more pronounced growth lines on my leos that had the split scutes, vs. the ones who didn't. It was as if everything just didn't line up the way it was supposed to. Since the time of that post, things have sort of leveled and smoothed out. I had one that was starting to grow crooked. One vertebral scute was sort of twisted in place. Because of that, I decided not to sell that one and figured I'd be stuck with it. Well now, a year later, it has really straightened out and "normalized" and I have trouble even telling which one it was.

Neal has been growing smooth ones for a while now and so have I. My method is to keep their indoor pens damp, warm and very humid. I also offer a humid hide box and spray their shells with water several times a day. Terry K. and Richard Fife taught me that technique actually. I also soak everyday for the first year or so and then taper it off like you do. I make sure that they have a shallow water bowl to drink from all the time. So far all these things together are working well for me. Other people have variations of these things and variable results to go with it.

One key is that this all happens very early. The pattern for growth, either smooth or pyramided, is established in the first few weeks or months of life. Its really hard to stop it once it starts, but if you switch them into the right conditions before a certain point in their growth, then they will begin to smooth out and the damage will be minimized.

Katherine your leopards look far better than most. I think they look great. In the one pic you can see how the growth lines change pretty drastically, signifying different conditions during periods of growth.




I truly appreciate and value all of your insight. I did not hatch any of the torts pictured myself; so I can only hypothesis about their hatchling care, but I have had them from an early age (3months to yearlings) and have tried hard to do right by them. I am glad to hear you say they look okay, but can't help but feel like I am missing some piece to the puzzle. I do feel they are healthy but I also know theres a huge margin for improvement! If it's truly the first few weeks or months that are most formative then I guess it's possible the torts I am producing look better than the torts I am hanging onto. I may keep the next clutch and run my own "toms experiment" in hopes of producing a smoother batch as well. Thanks for the inspiration (doesnt take much to talk me into keeping baby tortoises ; ) )

On a side note almost all of my tortoise rearing is a combo of modified Richard Fife care and trial and errors. He def lit the fire on humid care for me, I have a lot of respect for him. Your findings are just further awesome evidence that we can possibly raise healthier torts; whoo hoo!!!
 

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katherine said:
I may keep the next clutch and run my own "toms experiment" in hopes of producing a smoother batch as well.

Please do. That would be awesome! My goal in doing all of that stuff is to learn the best way to do it and share the info with others who are also trying things out. My hope is that through enough people trying and succeeding we will start to really see patterns for what works and what doesn't. As all of these "hydrated and humid" babies grow up and are succeeded by new generations, we will all just continue to learn. So please, start a thread with your next batch of hatchlings, show us what you are doing, and we'll all watch and learn from the results.:D
 
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