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RE: Pyramiding In Sulcatas, Is there...

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Posted by: tglazie at Sat Jan 26 19:03:18 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tglazie ]  
   

Pyramiding is entirely preventable, especially the severe kind whereby the animal's spine and health is put in jeopardy. Keep in mind, some pyramiding in sulcatas is natural. I've never seen a perfectly smooth specimin unless it was wild caught, and this is due to the extremely slow growth rate that accompanies the sort of diet typical of a harsh East African desert environment. The key to reducing pyramiding is diet. Temperature and humidity are also contributing factors, but so long as temperatures are maintained at respectable guidlines (75-80 ambient during the day, 65-70 ambient at night, with a basking spot in the area of 95-100 fahrenheit), this tends not to be an issue (maintaining temperature is very important, as this also keeps respiratory illness at bay). Humidity is said to be a factor, with higher humidity promoting less pyramiding, though I've found this to be a nearly negligible factor with sulcatas so long as temperature and diet are controlled. Sulcatas are hardy and adaptable, doing equally well in both Florida and Arizona (the two extremes of humidity in the U.S., for certain).

Anyway, the key, as I said, is diet. Feed your animal on a high fiber, low protein, low sugar, low carbohydrate diet. To achieve this, feed your animal a collection of greens. With hatchlings, a good first food is whole dandelion leaves. Romaine lettuce is also good, supplemented with calcium to make up for its mineral deficiency. Also try chickory greens, sow thistle, clover, kale (sparingly, as it is very deficient in iodine), and grasses, such a kikuyu, buffalo, winter grass (these grow in broadleafed patches on most yards in the Southern and Southwestern U.S., extending as far north as Maryland; they are a sulcata favorite), St. Augustine, Bermuda, and others. Consult chelonia.org for more information regarding this topic, as they have several edible plant lists. If you have a bit of a green thumb, grow some mulberry bushes, grape vines, or hibiscus plants. Althea is also a relatively common plant in garden stores, and they produce prodigious amounts of flowers in the summer time that sulcatas tend to go crazy over. You can also do this with Romaine lettuce in the winter time, so long as they are covered and protected during time of frost.

Feed fruit sparingly, as well as such things as Mazuri tortoise chow (this is way too high in protein, and I've noticed animals raised on it tend to eat too much when returned to a natural diet and exhibit a great deal of pyramiding). Besides all of this, it is also much more expensive than growing your own weeds and shrubs and purchasing old vegetables from your local grocer. Do not feed dog food. Squashes are also good, especially if you grow them yourself, as large tortoises not only enjoy the zuchinis or squashes that result, but also the bitter spiny leaves and stems of the plant itself. Squashes are loaded with nutrition, and they can provide a last bit of fat for your animals as they enter into a reduced state of activity during winter (unless, ofcourse, you have a giant greenhouse in which they may roam, but who has that kind of money?).

I hope this is a good start. Like I said, consult with chelonia.org. Also, consult some of the caresheets on this site. They are also very valuable sources of information.

T.G.


   

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