The End Of Pyramiding

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stells

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So you are not raising them the same way as you are keeping them on a different substrate and with access to water at all times? and you didn't do this with your "control group"... makes me wonder what else you are doing differently... diet? Temps? soaking regime?

Also wondering why you have placed the humid hide... at the cool end of the enclosure?

Also you said in your first thread about it being the end of pyramiding for captive raised tortoises... now you are saying that you are only doing this with Sulcata's and maybe Leopards... so was that opening statement in your first post on this thread abit misleading maybe?
 

mightyclyde

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The names are well thought. My 3 year old wanted to name our Hermann's tortoise "DooDah". She still calls him that. :p
 

Tom

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Updates: First time sunning. Pics are from yesterday 5-28-10.
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BIG Update: Trey has decided to join the party! Pipped on 5-29-10.
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TortieGal

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They look like they're having a great time soaking up some sun and all that room to run around. So cute. :)
 

Kayti

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Yay happy birthday Trey!

Sorry, a bit ot:
I have those same bins, Tom. What is that top you've made for it? Would you mind explaining how you did it?

Also, I've read that mesh and things like window screens greatly reduce the amount of UVA/UVB that gets through- does anyone know if this is true, and what gauge you could use to avoid it?
I've noticed that Exo Terra's have a very fine mesh screen top, but a lot of people keep reptiles in them that need full spectrum, and I've never heard of any problems.
 

Tom

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Kayti said:
Yay happy birthday Trey!

Sorry, a bit ot:
I have those same bins, Tom. What is that top you've made for it? Would you mind explaining how you did it?

Also, I've read that mesh and things like window screens greatly reduce the amount of UVA/UVB that gets through- does anyone know if this is true, and what gauge you could use to avoid it?
I've noticed that Exo Terra's have a very fine mesh screen top, but a lot of people keep reptiles in them that need full spectrum, and I've never heard of any problems.

My friend actually made these for his hatchling Russian a few years ago and gave them to me when he built his permanent outdoor Russian enclosure. Its just a simple PVC frame. Its not even glued. The mesh is held on there with some zip ties. This mesh is actually plastic and the holes are 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch. I'm sure it does filter out a very small percentage of the UV, but not enough to matter. Tighter screens, like window screens, would filter out more. The mesh is only to keep out errant ravens. We really don't have a predator problem out here, but these babies are so small that a bird could easily swoop down and be gone with them without me even noticing. If I was worried about predators I'd build a 2x4 frame and use hardware cloth or welded wire. They are only out when I'm around to supervise and only for an hour or so at a time. When they get bigger, they'll get a larger enclosure for exercise and sunning until eventually they move into Daisy's 15x30' slumpstone block pen.
 

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Awww Trey! Can't wait to see pictures of him :)
Where did you get that large tub? Do you happen to know the dimensions?
 

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Tom,at least you are DOING something. For better or worse,I guarantee you will learn some things. If not you,then someone else who actually DOES something will solve the riddle of pyramiding. Nobody is ever going to talk their way to the answer. Keep up the good fight.
 

Kayti

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ChiKat said:
Awww Trey! Can't wait to see pictures of him :)
Where did you get that large tub? Do you happen to know the dimensions?

Lowe's! I just got done searching every hardware store in my area because I wanted to buy more of them- they are called "cement mixing bins" and all hardware stores have them, but only Lowe's has this size without the sloping sides. They are about 3 ft by 2 ft.


I thought the finer meshes might filter out more UVA/UVB. I'm sure a gauge like Tom's doesn't filter out too much, but I seriously wonder about the Exo Terra ones now.
 

Tom

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jackrat said:
Tom,at least you are DOING something. For better or worse,I guarantee you will learn some things. If not you,then someone else who actually DOES something will solve the riddle of pyramiding. Nobody is ever going to talk their way to the answer. Keep up the good fight.

Thanks man. 100% agreed. Enough talk. I wish all the people on both sides would go get a brand new hatchling and demonstrate what they think will work. Then we'd really make some progress.
 

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Tom said:
Thanks man. 100% agreed. Enough talk. I wish all the people on both sides would go get a brand new hatchling and demonstrate what they think will work. Then we'd really make some progress.

I am definitely going to try the keeping substrate moist 100%, daily misting's (at least 3 a day), daily soaks thing if I ever get another leopard hatchling (I hope!).

With Thor, half of his 4x6 enclosure was dry, the other was moist. I never misted him though, until a few weeks ago when people started saying it was OK to spray sulcata's. And with soaking, I do maybe 2-3 a week, but I see him in his water dish drinking daily.

I'll have to post some pictures of him when i got him at 3-4 months old in another thread, but he may have already been slightly pyramiding when I got him. And if what people say is true, you can't start smoothing it out for years and have to let it run it's course.

I do appreciate the work you're doing though Tom, it should be interesting to see how these guys turn out.
 
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stells

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If a tortoise is older and pyramiding then they can be hard to "smooth out" in a little tortoise it isn't that difficult... i have had a few hatchlings come to me with early signs of pyramiding that have gone on to grow smooth since me having them...
 

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Update: Tuck and Tulee have each grown about 5mm and they each weigh 41 grams now. Check out the new growth around the edges of the scutes. Very cool.
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Trey has officially joined the party! He's in the brood box now absorbing his yolk sack. He's just about 5 cm, like his two siblings and he weighed in at 32 grams.
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Meet Trey:
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terryo

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I'm really excited about this thread Tom. If hatchlings are going to start Pyramiding, how old would they be when they do start. Of course I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Tulee, Tuck, and the others.
 

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terryo said:
I'm really excited about this thread Tom. If hatchlings are going to start Pyramiding, how old would they be when they do start. Of course I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Tulee, Tuck, and the others.

I've seen it in them in as little as their first month. Daisy was pretty heavily pyramided when I got her at 12 weeks. She was kept very dry, on grass pellets, at an ambient temp of 80-85 and with no basking spot. Tuck and Tulee hatched on the 15th, so they are already more than two weeks into it. Trey pipped two days ago and went into the brood box just a few hours ago. (I love that each post here has a date and time stamp. It will help me keep track of details months from now.)

I would say that by 90 days, it should be pretty apparent which way its going to go.
 

PaeSerin

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I actually have just a quick question. I was led to believe high humidity was a high factor in respiratory infections in tortoises. I admit, it's hard getting the same answer twice around here, but even my vet said the high humidity here is a huge factor. Have I been mislead?
 

Tom

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Good question. You are right about the inconsistent answers. For the last three decades everyone thought that all species of desert tortoises needed it hot and dry all the time. As you've seen from your vet most people still do. Also for the last three decades, almost everyone who raised a desert species of tortoise (CDT, Leopard, Sulcata) ended up with them heavily pyramided. There were very few exceptions to this and almost every exception was a tortoise raised outdoors in South Florida or Louisiana. I did not see a single smooth captive raised Leopard or sulcata in CA for nearly 20 years.

A few years ago, a man named Richard Fife in Arizona discovered quite by accident that if you raise a Leopard tortoise on a humid substrate with a humid hide box, they don't pyramid. This was a ground breaking, amazing discovery. The establishment balked at him and most people wrote him off as a nut. Meanwhile he kept raising and selling batch after batch of healthy, smooth Leopards and sulcatas while nobody else could. Many of the Leopards and Sulcatas on this site came from him. In 2007 he and his brother published a book and this is when most of the tortoise world got wind of this.

I was so frustrated by failure after failure that I was ready to try anything. I got a three month old, already pyramiding hatchling and gave her a humid hide box. She didn't get sick, but she didn't stop pyramiding either. As I learned more, I made it more and more humid and wet in there. Now, and for the last year, you could find drier areas in the middle of the Everglades. Her pen is an absolute swamp AND her new growth is starting to come in smooth. Sulcatas raised in the most humid parts of our country don't get respiratory infections unless young ones are allowed to catch a chill. I spray her and her enclosure several times a day every day. I soak her everyday. Her substrate and her hide are wet. Not damp, but dripping wet. And I keep her warm. She's healthy as a horse and no sign of shell rot or respiratory problems. I'm not advocating that anybody keep them this wet, I'm just illustrating that even in very extreme conditions, they don't get sick because of wetness/humidity.

Think about this. In the wild, it is a desert. But only for nine months out of the year. Guess what the other three are. The rainy season. Its wet and very humid nearly every day. Coincidentally, this is also when most of their food grows and they do the majority of their growing. The rest of the year they subsist on dead dry grasses and shrubs and try to avoid the heat by staying in humid burrows.

Also consider that babies don't just walk around above ground, out in the open much. If they did they'd get eaten quick. Hatchlings and babies stay in humid burrows or they burrow into plant root balls or leaf litter.

Where the debate comes in is with all the different species. Some people have raised some species without intentionally increasing humidity and gotten good results. The old stand by's keep getting repeated too. Pyramiding is not caused by excess protein. Pyramiding is caused by growth in the absence of sufficient humidity. Excess protein causes more growth. If its humid the growth will be smooth, if its dry the growth will be pyramided. This I can tell you from personal experience. Lots of it.
 

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Thanks for the well-explained answer. Best one I've ever gotten on the subject.
 

Tom

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You are very welcome. I always feel like I'm leaving out important details, even though my posts can get very long-winded. Please ask more questions. It helps me remember important details that I've forgotten. It has taken decades to get to where I am with this, and A LOT of things have happened and been observed over that time. The whole idea, for me, is to share what I have learned and hopefully inspire others to share what they've learned, so that we can all figure out and eliminate pyramiding.

Questions and criticism actually help to further this goal.
 
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