The End Of Pyramiding II-The Leopards

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Tom

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They are looking great. Waiting for the coincidence of free time AND a warm sunny day for more pics...
 

ElfDa

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Here's Miss Penny; she made it through the URTI and the parasites, and has grown to be a lovely young lady. :)

and thanks to regular warm showers, her shell is lookin' pretty smooth. ...it could be smoother :rolleyes:, but I'm still pretty pleased. :)

and I love her more and more, every day. :D
 

swalker

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I am a South African who has recently moved to the US. I kept and bred Pardalis for many years back home. I have seen both smooth and pyramided Leopards ''in the wild''. ''In the wild'' sadly does not really exist. Thousands and thousands of Leopards are kept illegally as pets in back gardens in SA and then released by their owners into the wild, so when you catch a so called wild animal, you have no idea if it has ever been in captivity. I had a couple of adults that had super smooth shells. Will try and dig out some old pictures from years gone by and refresh my memory. A number of my babies are still with friends who have grown them from babies in captivity over the last 10 years. Will get pics of those as well and we can see how they look.
 

Yvonne G

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swalker said:
I am a South African who has recently moved to the US. I kept and bred Pardalis for many years back home. I have seen both smooth and pyramided Leopards ''in the wild''. ''In the wild'' sadly does not really exist. Thousands and thousands of Leopards are kept illegally as pets in back gardens in SA and then released by their owners into the wild, so when you catch a so called wild animal, you have no idea if it has ever been in captivity. I had a couple of adults that had super smooth shells. Will try and dig out some old pictures from years gone by and refresh my memory. A number of my babies are still with friends who have grown them from babies in captivity over the last 10 years. Will get pics of those as well and we can see how they look.

Hi swalker:

Won't you take a few moments to start a new thread in the "introductions" section and tell us a bit about your and your tortoises?

I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures.
 

Tom

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swalker said:
I am a South African who has recently moved to the US. I kept and bred Pardalis for many years back home. I have seen both smooth and pyramided Leopards ''in the wild''. ''In the wild'' sadly does not really exist. Thousands and thousands of Leopards are kept illegally as pets in back gardens in SA and then released by their owners into the wild, so when you catch a so called wild animal, you have no idea if it has ever been in captivity. I had a couple of adults that had super smooth shells. Will try and dig out some old pictures from years gone by and refresh my memory. A number of my babies are still with friends who have grown them from babies in captivity over the last 10 years. Will get pics of those as well and we can see how they look.

Hello and welcome. So glad to hear from you. We'd all love to hear more about your tortoises and any info you can share with us about diet, housing, temps..., anything really. Pics would be fantastic. There are many people here in the states that believe that some leopards pyramid in the wild. I don't. When I was there in South Africa, I observed exactly what you just described about how its really hard to still call anything you find out there "wild". There are so many of them being raised in captivity and then released when they get too big, or they just escape, or the people just get tired of them and turn them loose somewhere out in the country side.

Anyhow, Thanks for joining and sharing. Looking forward to more.
 

Neal

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As someone who does believe leopards pyramid naturally...how do we know that actual wild leopards don't pyramid? What leads you to that opinion?

Let me rephrase the above...I actually do believe that South African leopards specifically are less prone to pyramiding than the other type. For all intents and purposes, I guess I am of the opinion that SA leopards do not pyramid naturally. So my questions really aren't relevant.
 

swalker

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Tom said:
swalker said:
I am a South African who has recently moved to the US. I kept and bred Pardalis for many years back home. I have seen both smooth and pyramided Leopards ''in the wild''. ''In the wild'' sadly does not really exist. Thousands and thousands of Leopards are kept illegally as pets in back gardens in SA and then released by their owners into the wild, so when you catch a so called wild animal, you have no idea if it has ever been in captivity. I had a couple of adults that had super smooth shells. Will try and dig out some old pictures from years gone by and refresh my memory. A number of my babies are still with friends who have grown them from babies in captivity over the last 10 years. Will get pics of those as well and we can see how they look.

Hello and welcome. So glad to hear from you. We'd all love to hear more about your tortoises and any info you can share with us about diet, housing, temps..., anything really. Pics would be fantastic. There are many people here in the states that believe that some leopards pyramid in the wild. I don't. When I was there in South Africa, I observed exactly what you just described about how its really hard to still call anything you find out there "wild". There are so many of them being raised in captivity and then released when they get too big, or they just escape, or the people just get tired of them and turn them loose somewhere out in the country side.

Anyhow, Thanks for joining and sharing. Looking forward to more.
Hi Tom, I left SA in 2000 before I had a digital camera, so will have to dig out some of the very few pics that I took at the time. I did not even think of pyramiding as an issue at the time. My torts were just so healthy and happy and I thought ''rougher'' shells were natural. In fact, I had never even heard of it until I starting looking to get torts again after a 12 years hiatus. I now know for certain some of my babies that grew up in captivity had some pyramiding. If I can find the pics of their first few years, it will tell us for certain.

However, it is impossible in SA to tell if a tortoise in the wild has ever been in captivity. Even in the large game parks, people constantly pick them up and keep them as pets, only to release them elsewhere. It is illegal to keep them but impossible to police. I bought my largest female in the mid 90's for R80 ($10) from a group of locals who had her in a cage and were planning to eat her that night. She must have been at least 50 years old and laid multiple clutches every year without fail. Her shell was super smooth but many of the other adults were not nearly so smooth - I just assumed that was natural. In fact, I thought at the time that there was something wrong with the large female who was so smooth. I got all my breeding adults as adults from people who had them in their gardens as pets and I always assumed they had been wildcaught originally but cannot be sure.

There was not a lot of science required to my keeping and breeding as the weather was great in JHB for them (albeit rumoured to be a few degrees too cold for the eggs to hatch naturally, although I did occasionally miss an egg laying, as the pen was rather large and babies would suddenly appear and I would frantically dig where the baby came from and release all the other babies). People always said to me that JHB winters were too cold for natural incubation and you had to go 50 kilometers North to Pretoria where it is on average a few degrees warmer but that proved not to be true in the end. When I managed to intercept egg laying, I incubated them at the same temp as my snake eggs and confess to not having a great hatch rate (probably about 20%) and it took a long long time. Upwards of 6+ months.

In summary, I saw a lot more Leopards with some level of pyramiding (in captivity and the wild) than I did with smooth shells (and I saw a lot of Leopards!). I would take an educated guess that some wild Leopards have natural pyramiding but why and where it occurs in the wild will be very, very tough to determine. My babies are still around, so will get a few pics and post them here.

Last point is that the natural environment for a lot of Leopards is very dry, so it would lead me to think if higher humidity in captivity leads to smoother shells, then surely Leopards from drier areas of SA will naturally pyramid. However, those Leopards that had pyramiding seemed just as healthy and happy as their smoother counterparts. In fact, they were all bullet proof - in 15 years I never had a single medical complaint from a herd that ranged from 2 to 20 in number at any given time.

As I remember more and think of more bits and pieces, I will post. Some info may be useful, some may not but will put it up anyway just in case.

BTW, love what all of you are doing to try and get to the bottom of the pyramiding issue.
 

Neal

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Good post swalker.

What was their behavior like in the winter? Did they ever have a hibernation period?
 

swalker

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Neal said:
Good post swalker.

What was their behavior like in the winter? Did they ever have a hibernation period?

Hi Neal, yes, they hibernated for many months over the winter. Highveld winters can get quite warm during the day (sometimes 18 degrees Celcius), so they would occasionally take a walk around their pen during the middle of the day and basked in the warm sunshine but always went back to their enclosed hutch long before it got chilly again. They pretty much went AWOL though for 3 months and ate next to nothing. Also, I had many eggs hatch naturally after spending a whole winter in the ground. JHB winters at night are often below freezing but suppose they were protected from the worst of the cold by being buried.
 

Yvonne G

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This fact adds to the diapause theory.
 

Neal

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Cool, I have been speaking with other leopard owners about hibernation and how all types of leopards might benefit from a cooling off period over winter....maybe the topic of a future separate discussion than on this thread.
 

Tom

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Great info swalker. Very informative. I would love to hear any details you are willing to share. I spent some time in Jo'Berg in August of 1998 and indeed we did have some below freezing nights. Still warm days, but those nights were cold.
 

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I want a update Tom :p I want to see the results now that they are older.. please
 

ILovePurple

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Thank you for this thread! I have 2 baby Leo's about 2 1/2 months old and I want to do right by them, and NO PYRAMIDING!! I'm learning here. We have several turtles and one Greek but have never had a baby tort. I'm determined to do these guys right. I learned a lot already by this thread. So, thank you for all your hard work, and especially passing it on! Good Luck!
 

kanalomele

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I have read this thread 3 times now and have learned so much. I want a few leos myself so I am trying to prepare myself with knowledge of these beautiful torts. Thank-you and I would also love an update with pics!
 

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Tom, you are a great man to look up to when it comes to the care of both Sulcatas and Leos! I read every post in this thread and now have a one month old leopard myself! I have been keeping the humidity considerably high in the entire enclosure (two 50 gallon tubs that have been modified into one large enclosure for the little guy!) along with the heat, and just as you and a lot of other people on here have discovered it sent his activity level skyrocketing! When the baby first came in I didn't have a top on either side of the tubs, and the humidity for me was such a constant struggle. I knew it was too dry for my little baby (which was kept the last month my Eweezyfosheezy in the same humid environment and excellent care as you have suggested, so I have a great start already) because when he would wake up one eye would stay closed for 5 minutes or so more than the other, and on the first morning I even found an eye booger on the one that wouldn't open. So I would douse the entire enclosure with a spray bottle hoping the higher humidity would help get the eye open faster. I didn't pay close attention to how drastically the temperature dropped after the spritzing, and it probably got down to 70... The poor thing started making clicking noises and sounded like he was on the verge of a respiratory infection, so that's when extreme mommy mode kicked in. I got plexi glass and covered one side (one whole 50 gallon tub. I would've covered the other side as well but the way it is with the hood light it's impossible, but I figured it would give the baby more variety in temps.) and cut 3 holes; one for the basking light, one for the CHE (right over the humid hide), and the last for the tube from the reptifogger I bought (which I saw someone else was experimenting with as well, and let me tell you Tom, from my experience that fogger in combination with the heat and humidity device that keeps them both at exactly what you set it at is a godsend...). Ever since I made that investment his appetite has sky-rocketed, his activity level is amazing and the eye problem AND the clicking noises completely disipated! he is a whole new tort! And in a week the little guy went from 28.0g to 34 grams!! I am so excited and happy that this IS the method that works, and I look forward to giving my little tort s great smooth life! Lol! (I also do this with my sulcata, who didn't get the right care the first two years at all, but now with the new wet regimen, she is sprouting like a WEED! went from 216 when I first started reading your posts maybe a month ago to 290 grams! She so much more active too, her personality is GUSHING now, lol. I'm so glad I came across this site and your thread, I feel like an accomplished tortoise keeper now. :D)

Also, on the subject of the crooked scute torts being more prone to pyramiding, maybe it's like when a person has an extra tooth and the mouth is crowded? As in having that extra scute causes the evenness to be thrown off because they are all trying to grow at the same rate, but there isn't enough room? It's just a theory of course. :) A possible spark in a genius's mind. :p
 
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