Piramiding

Use this forum to discuss general questions about any aspects of tortoise care.
Post Reply
Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 18 Jul 2017, 12:45

Hi, question about my four year old Hermann. I got him when he was about one and a half. He's always been very quiet compared to my other Hermann Tortoise. And always just kinda layed in the same spot and only ate small quantities (for two years). His shell has always looked very nice but it seems that since this spring he has suddenly developed some piramiding and it's driving me nuts! Everything is the same in his enclosure and he eats the same food. He's also become super active since spring and eats like a pig, lol. Can a growth spurt cause the piramiding? He seems to have caught up to my other Hermann's size all of a sudden and he's always been much smaller. Please help
Attachments
IMG_2432.JPG

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1212
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Piramiding

Post by Nina » 18 Jul 2017, 14:04

Hi Tasha,

First of all he's a lovely little Hermann! I can see that he is starting to have some pyramiding, and this can be caused by a number of factors: the wrong food (for example, too high in protein); but also too much of the right food -- you said that he eats like a pig -- does that mean he is eating more than he used to?

A short growth spurt won't do any harm, but a prolongued growth spurt can be one factor in producing pyramiding.
The thing to aim for is slow growth, and for that reason it's good to keep regular records of his weight and length. We have a record sheet that you can download and print out for this purpose: http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... W4F_umQyM8 (just click on the link to the record sheet). What you are aiming for is growth of between 1g and 3 or 4g per month on average. This is just an average, so some months he will gain more, and some less (and of course when he is hibernating he won't be gaining anything).

There is also a theory that lack of humidity can be a factor in pyramiding. I notice that you keep him on a bark substrate. It is difficult to spray bark substrate to produce a little humidity, as it can grow mould, and for that reason we recommend a substrate that is more like the natural environment they would find in the wild, and this is a mixture of sterilised topsoil and children's play sand (some mix it 50/50 and some have a higher percentage of topsoil to playsand). This can be sprayed daily (which keeps it from getting dusty and it also produces a slightly humid environment.

I hope this helps, and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Nina

T

Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Re: Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 18 Jul 2017, 15:01

Hi,thank you for your response. Yes when I said eating like a pig I meant that he is eating much more compared to before. He eats fresh greens and weeds and Mazuri Tortoise chow. I currently have top soil and sand mix under the reptibark. I just covered it with reptibark because he was eating the soil 😳. His enclosure humidity is always 50-60.

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1212
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Piramiding

Post by Nina » 18 Jul 2017, 16:04

Hi Tasha,

I think you might try cutting down a bit on his portions, and I would definitely recommend the weight recording. If he eats a lot he will grow a lot (lol -- just like us), so that might be the problem, and it is easily solved (but you do have to be bit hard hearted and ignore those pleading looks from him when you give him less food than usual). There are some guidelines that people like to use (all he can eat in 20 minutes once a day; enough weeds and flowers to make a little jacket to cover his shell once a day; one day a week with no food or very little) -- they are all rough guidelines, and the weight is the proof of the pudding.

Also, I would feed less of the Mazuri, as some of their products tend to be high in protein, and you are aiming for a high fibre/low protein diet. I've looked on the Mazuri website and can't see which product you are using, as there doesn't seem to be one called Mazuri Tortoise Chow. http://www.mazuri.com/tortoise.aspx But I can see that some of them (for example the first one) are as high as 20% crude protein -- and too much protein can definitely lead to pyramiding. I am not saying this is the cause, but it is something to be considered.

Re the sand/soil eating -- many tortoises will sample any substrate but they usually stop after a short time. If you only have a thin coating of bark, and he can dig down in the sand/soil substrate that is probably fine, and your humidity sounds OK too.

Good luck and let us know how you get on -- and please don't hesitate to get back to us if you have any more questions or problems.

Nina

Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Re: Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 20 Jul 2017, 03:08

Hello again, so I decided to remove the reptibark from my enclosure today and put only topsoil and sand in as a substrate. When I removed the bark and began scooping up the soil/sand mix underneath it, it stunk like crazy. I cleaned it very well. I've since put in new soil/sand mix in the enclosure but am now beginning to wonder if that is really what I should be using. My enclosure is not a table. It is like one you would see in a pet store but the top is open. My torts love it. I had little "bathtubs" in each of their enclosures so they can soak themselves but I've since taken them out because I worry that their constant splashing in the dirt could be the cause. Any thoughts? I'm very worried. 😔

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1212
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Piramiding

Post by Nina » 20 Jul 2017, 09:09

Hi Tasha,

I think it's good that you removed the bark, and I think that the reason it all stank is that some poo and most of the wee would have got underneath the bark layer, preventing you from removing it, so it just went bad. What is good about a sand/soil substrate is that the poo is easily visible on top to remove, and the wee just forms a wet spot where the substrate clumps together because it is wet, so you can easily remove that with an old spoon. It's called spot cleaning and means that most of the wee and poo are taken out. I spot clean most days. With a layer of bark on top it meant very little air was getting to the wee that had soaked down, so it was like putting a lid on it, which allowed microorganisms to grow and cause the smell.

With a soil/sand substrate I would make it as deep as is convenient -- 3" or 4" if possible. Then either give it a light spray every day or so, or every couple of days I just pour some water on mine and mix it up really well. The important thing is that the end result is not at all wet -- just the teeny tiniest bit damp, and that will stop it from gettig dusty.

And I would definitely put the little baths back in. It's really important that your tortoises are able to bathe and drink, and any water that is splashed out will dry up under the lights. As long as you now have air reaching that substrate, by having removed the bark layer, you shouldn't have any more problems. Do give it a go and let us know how you get on.

Nina


T

Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Re: Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 01 Aug 2017, 14:59

Hello again, I need some advice. So since my last post I have changed my tortoise substrate to sand and topsoil mix 50/50. Since the switch, my Hermans has only pooped once! He used to poop all the time. It's been well over a week so I Am very stressed. I have been soaking him every two days. He is still eating and acting normal. Thanks

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1212
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Piramiding

Post by Nina » 01 Aug 2017, 15:30

Hi Tasha,

How long ago did you cnage the substrate? Also, have you checked carefully -- poos often get covered in the soil/sand substrate and can be hard to see. When we discussed his pyramiding on the 18th of July, I thought you were maybe going to reduce the quantity of food that you give him, so if you have done that and he eating a bit less, then he will also be pooing a bit less. But if you are sure he hasn't poo'd for a very long time then we need to find out why. Are you giving him nice long (around 20 minutes) warm baths every day or two, in water that comes up to his chin (or where the top shell meets the bottom shell)? They often do poo and wee in the bath, but of course you will have seen that. If you can tell us how many days it has been since he has poo'd then we will know whether this is something to be worried about.

Nina

Tasha wrote:
> Hello again, I need some advice. So since my last post I have changed my
> tortoise substrate to sand and topsoil mix 50/50. Since the switch, my
> Hermans has only pooped once! He used to poop all the time. It's been well
> over a week so I Am very stressed. I have been soaking him every two days.
> He is still eating and acting normal. Thanks

Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Re: Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 01 Aug 2017, 15:39

Hello, I changed the substrate July 19th. I have not seen any poop in the sand/soil. I have two Hermans. It's not the one with the pyramiding that is having the problem this time. They both have baths every two days in warm water. The water does go up to their chins. They are both peeing too. I will soak him every day and see if it helps.

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1212
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Piramiding

Post by Nina » 01 Aug 2017, 18:46

Hi Tasha,

This is difficult, and I'm not sure, as if he is eating well he should have had a poo since July 19th. Elaine had some comments to make, but she can't get into her phone, so I've cut and pasted them from an email she sent me (some of the questions you've already answered earlier in the thread). I'll give it some more thought and let you know if we have any other ideas, and do keep us posted:

From Elaine:
The only things I could suggest is that she puts the water bowls back in and had small stones around it.
What ratio of sand/soil and did she mix it together?
Offer sedum, cucumber. And I'd be going to vet if she sees nothing after long soaks a couple of times per day over next couple of days just to rule out impactation of bark substrate. I'd also put a towel over the substrate just to be sure that she isn't missing any movements.
Is he straining whilst in the bath?

Nina


Tasha wrote:
> Hello, I changed the substrate July 19th. I have not seen any poop in the
> sand/soil. I have two Hermans. It's not the one with the pyramiding that is
> having the problem this time. They both have baths every two days in warm
> water. The water does go up to their chins. They are both peeing too. I
> will soak him every day and see if it helps.

Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Re: Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 01 Aug 2017, 19:17

I have put water bowls back in their cages. I have it mixed 50/50. I will offer cucumber and keep soaking and see what happens. I went thru the substrate and did find one little nugget buried in the substrate so I'm hopeful. I will keep you posted. Thanks so much ☺️

Tasha
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 02:17

Re: Piramiding

Post by Tasha » 11 Aug 2017, 03:18

Good news, Herman finally had a bowel movement on the weekend. Not sure what was wrong with him but he's fine now. Going everyday like he used to. Maybe he was stressed from the new substrate. I gave him a bit of cucumber like you mentioned. That may have helped too. Thanks ☺️

User avatar
Nina
Posts: 1212
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Piramiding

Post by Nina » 11 Aug 2017, 06:57

So glad to hear that he's back to normal now! I do sometimes think that our tortoises give us more stress than our children do. :roll:

Nina

Bex
Posts: 161
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 19:37

Re: Piramiding

Post by Bex » 19 Aug 2017, 18:48

I totally agree Nina!! I went away and left my mum tortoise sitting... I think I rang 8-9 times a day to check on them, I drove my mum mad :lol: I was SO worried and happy to say they were both fine.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests