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Post  Admin on Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:21 am

One of the biggest problems associated with raising captive hatched tortoises is pyramiding. Pyramiding is the raising of scutes during active growth periods.As a tortoise normally grows ,each scute increases in size horizontally thus increasing the overall diameter of each scute and the size of the tortoise. During normal growth this scute enlargement will lead to smooth growth.During periods of little or no growth (such as during brumation/hibernation) a slight ridge or ring will develop. This ridge is often referred to as a growth ring and in some species not all can help to establish how old the tortoise is. In a tortoise that is developing pyramiding, this new growth increases the size of the scute in a vertical direction thus raising the scutes. This is not a normal process of growth or shell development.This phenomenon of itself doesn’t pose a problem for the tortoise unless dietary deficiencies are also present and have contributed to the pyramiding.Scutes that have already exhibited pyramiding cannot be corrected; however if conditions for shell development are corrected the new growth can develop in a normal horizontal direction. It appears that the most critical time for pyramiding to develop is during the first year or two. If conditions are correct during the first year or two and pyramiding has not developed then the chance of pyramiding developing in an older tortoise is greatly reduced even if husbandry conditions are not optimum.
For years there have been a number of opinions on the actual cause of pyramiding. It had been pretty well assumed that excessive protein in the diet was the cause. Other factors included the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the diet, temperature,, dietary fiber, overfeeding, etc. Most of these factors probably play a roll to one degree or another.
As the common assumption that protein was the culprit, which caused pyramiding, became widespread so did the notion that protein should be all but eliminated from the diet. To compound the problem two different methods for determining protein were compared and often assumed to be the same.One method of determining the percent of protein in a food item includes the water as a percentage of the food. The other method, referred to, as “dry matter” protein doesn’t include the water as part of the food. The results of the two methods are drastically different. By using one method the percent of protein in dandelion greens is 2.7 %. By using the “dry mater” method the same dandelion greens are 18.7%.It is important to understand that protein is made up of amino acids, some of which are essential in the diet. The diet is extremely important in raising a healthy tortoise, about 6 or 7 years ago it was decided to try a new method for rearing hatching tortoises.
A set up of two groups of new hatching red-foot tortoises for there experiment. The first group was set up in a plastic box with dry paper towels (low humidity). The second group was set up in a plastic box with moist paper towels (high humidity). The two groups were kept side by side and fed identically.
Within a few months the difference was astounding. The tortoises in the dry set up had the typical pyramiding u see in captive hatched tortoises. The second group had no pyramiding whatsoever and looked identical to wild caught. they began to try increasing the humidity on several other species of tortoises with the same positive results.
In theory it was asummed that hatching tortoises in the wild spend most of the time hidden in moist soil, clumps of moist grass, or in the bottom of humid burrows. Even desert species spend much of their life in the bottom of a humid burrow.The researches in Vienna theorized that that during dry periods when food is scare there is little or no growth in hatching tortoises (pyramiding is only developed during periods of growth). During periods when food is plentiful the humidly is also increased, growth is rapid, and pyramiding is rare.
The researchers also hypothesized “that during dry conditions, dehydration reduces both intra- and inter-cellular pressures on soft cartilage at the areas of bone growth, which could lead to collapse of the soft tissue and subsequent ossification in the collapsed position.”
Other hobbyists have confirmed that increased humidity in their experiences has a very important role in reducing pyramiding in tortoises.for all my torts including med species i provide a humid hide to which some take to and some dont i personaly believe that humidity is one of the main key factors in pyramiding.In my reds enclouser i spray it twice daily keeping humidity up were as in my med species i spray there humid hides.What is your views on pyramiding ?


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