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Perfect shells
Posted: 05/05/2012 by DavidWYork

Hi. I've just been reading an article I found on the net about tortoise growth. I have pasted an extract which I found interesting, about raising hatchlings with no pyramiding. I set the extract here, followed by link to website:

"Other hobbyists in the USA have confirmed that increased humidity in their experiences has a very important role in reducing pyramiding in hatchling tortoises.

My next goal was to devise a convenient way to raise a tortoise at high humidity without creating problems associated with increased levels of bacteria, fungi and mold. I have experimented with a number of different systems and sub straights and have settled on the following system: First I concluded that Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss works very well as a moisture retaining sub-straight. It has a property that discourages the growth of molds and fungi. It also doesn’t seem to be toxic if ingested and doesn’t impact the gut if eaten. It is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.

For years snake breeders and gecko breeders have used a “moisture chamber” for nesting and to maintain the health of their animals. I have taken the same approach with my hatchling tortoises. I provide a plastic shoebox with an opening cut in the side, which serves and an entrance. I put an inch or two of slightly moist Canadian Peat Moss inside the shoebox for the tortoises to hide in. The moist peat moss increases the humidity inside the box.

The substrate outside the hide box can be any commonly used dry substrate. I use dry alfalfa hay with all the thick stems and sticks removed. It is important to separate the dry substrate from the moist substrate in order to prevent the growth of mold or fungi on the dry substrate.

It is also important to provide, water, heat, UVB lighting, and a well balanced diet. The peat moss should be checked routinely for moisture level and regularly replaced with fresh peat moss.

After several years of using this system (moisture chamber) I have been able to consistently produce exceptionally nice captive hatched tortoises. Under these conditions pyramiding can me eliminated and my tortoises are active and healthy.

I am sure that there are many other methods that can be used to increase the moisture and humidity for our hatching tortoises. This is one approach that can be used in your husbandry techniques that has been successful for me. Good luck with your “babies”!

It does seem a simple change which might easily be adopted, to create a sleeping microclimate. I have not reared hatchlings, but have seen many mis-shaped shells over the this something people already do? If so, I would be really interested to hear your results/opinions.I know we recommend a sand/soil substrate, kept slightly damp, rather than bone dry alfalfa or chipped wood, but how many have a properly humid sleeping area?

One thing I do know...I have a very humid and cold outdoor pen...and a longing for those long hot days we need for our torts!

Hope someone finds this useful for their little torty.

David, nr York

Re: Perfect shells
Posted: 06/05/2012 by tortoise7

Hi David

As you know, I have had concerns over Keya's carapace, as she started to become  bit lumpy, and there was nothing I was doing wrong with diet, environment, lighting etc infact a little on the side of underfeeding if anything. This only occured since she has spent time indoors due to bad weather conditions, even though I spray her substrate to get some humidity in the pen. I will try this method with Canadian peat moss and let you know how I get on?

Re: Perfect shells
Posted: 18/05/2012 by wizzasmum

I have been doing this for a couple of years now. The key is to offer the choice. I water the substrate and give the babies a choice of humid or dry hides and it's not very often they go for dry to be honest. My first bred torts were kept totally dry with a daily bath and are not smooth, but the ones reared with higher humidity have grown beautifully and are as smooth as the day they were hatched.


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