Yvonne G said:Hi T.R. and Welcome to the Forum!
I can speak to the second question - you say you've tested the humidity around juvenile and adult tortoises. We only recommend the high humidity approach for the first year of life. Baby leopard/sulcata tortoises hatch out during the monsoon season when there is plenty of grassy ground cover and the ground is fairly wet. So, the humidity/pyramid issue starts at birth and is usually set by the time they reach about a year of age.
Testudoresearch said:I highly recommend not drawing too many conclusions from generalized weather and climate data, but to try to visit such habitats in person, as only then do you really begin to get an accurate picture of what is going on.
I have read your reports of your experiences with G. pardalis and G. sulcata in various threads posted here. I note you recommend rearing in a high humidity environment. Your results are interesting, and I applaud your tenacity in pursuing this research. Your results are meaningful and useful. However.... I do believe that you may be misinterpreting certain causes and effects. I also note that you state, above, that you believe in some form not only of external, but some form of "internal" or"cellular" dehydration as one of the causes. This would be quite remarkable, because physiologically, it would be unique in the animal kingdom. No such process is known to science. Living cells, within an organism, are invariably in a state of homeostasis - and if dehydrated to the point of "collapse", as proponents of the theory you appear to subscribe to suggest, then they would be no longer living cells, but dead cells. There is no cytological evidence, anywhere, that this is occurring.
The areas just below the outer keratin are very well supplied by numerous blood vessels. The underlying bone too, is also well supplied and is invariably at homeostasis. If any localised "drying" did take place at that level, it would cause cell death and localised necrosis. Examination of numerous 'pyramided' carapaces fails to reveal any such condition.
So, I think we have to look beyond that theory (which remains a theory, as absolutely no-one has produced a sliver of real, hard evidence to support it). This is particularly important when a theory contradicts the established physiological and biological sciences.
I have two questions.
The first concerns Leopard tortoises in the wild which exhibit a type of raised scute phenomenon. I note you have said that you believe these are most probably ex-captives that have been released into the wild? (I hope I am not misquoting you here). While I have no count that this does occur (I have studied G. pardalis in South Africa), I believe it highly improbable it accounts for all of them - by a long way. Furthermore, there are numerous specimens in natural history museums, some dating back almost 200 years, that display identical scute formations. These were collected, in many cases from extremely remote areas, long before anyone, anywhere was keeping these animals in captivity. This is significant evidence. In the same context, it is useful to look at another species from the same part of the world, Psammobates tentorius (the Tent tortoise). These display, as a matter of course, very similar scute formations to some of these wild Leopards tortoises. Clearly, they are not all ex-captives, and again, we have collection material going back a very long way. It is quite clearly normal for them - not a result of any pathology or incorrect environment. How do they fit into the scheme of things, and if it is normal for them, why is not possible that it might also be normal for some populations of G. pardalis?
My second question is more of a practical nature. You are using a very high humidity environment to rear G. pardalis. I understand you have seen these natural habitats... if so, you must surely recognise that the environment you are using is totally different from that in the wild. It is, in general, a semi-arid, scrubby habitat. Finding pockets of high humidity in that habitat is very, very difficult. I have recorded the actual conditions right next to both juvenile and adult wild Leopard tortoises, and typically, RH ranges from 35-60% for most of the year. Very high levels are only seen at certain times of year, during and immediately following rain. For most of the time, RH is in the 40-50% range.
So as far as this goes, I have to question why people feel that such an entirely different set of microclimate conditions from that in the wild are needed in captivity? Surely, it should not be necessary. An intensely artificial method is being used here that bears almost no relation to conditions this species experiences in nature, in its natural habitat. It is important to enquire why, and what else is going wrong that demands such an approach?
Thank you for your time. I do believe these are important questions that all serious keepers and investigators have an interest in seeing addressed.
Yvonne G said:Testudoresearch said:I highly recommend not drawing too many conclusions from generalized weather and climate data, but to try to visit such habitats in person, as only then do you really begin to get an accurate picture of what is going on.
I was repeating information that I gleaned from a person who actually lives in Africa and operates a sulcata reserve...Tomas Diagne.
Saleama said:Interestingly enough, with the tent tortoise, the ones from the drier areas happen to be the smoothest? Still, I have been using the humid method with Leopards and Sulcatas in the exact same conditions and I am seeing pretty smooth leopards and not a whole lot of pyramiding in the Sulcatas started humid and noticable decreases in the ones started dry. Of course, I can only speak for my very limited number of animals and the short time I have had them, five months.
nearpass said:It was presented to me several years ago by a European tortoise keeper, the source I do not remember, that 'over feeding' and too rapid growth contribute to excessive pyramiding in captive tortoises. By over feeding, I mean that in captivity our animals have to work very little for foods that may well be much more nutrient dense than what they would ever scrounge for much of the time in the wild. I suspect many captive raise animals have accelerated growth compared to wild roaming ones, and much less exercise is involved in their finding food. This is certainly not the complete picture, and I am no biologist, but might it not play a part?
wellington said:Heather, maybe some clarity is needed. I took it that the high humidity (80%)is not what they would naturally get in the wild, that it is more like 40-60% and that they would not get it as long or constant as it would be in the closed chambers.