Dry looking shell

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TortyPerson
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Aug 2021, 11:06

Dry looking shell

Post by TortyPerson » 18 Jan 2022, 08:50

Hi everybody, got a shell question. It's probably nothing but to me, Gonzales' shell looks a bit dry and dull compared to some of the photos I've seen of other mediterranean spur thigh tortoises. Its not flaking, or soft anywhere, its just not the rich shiny colour that I have noticed elsewhere.

UPDATED: There are actually a couple of tiny white bits on top that are in grooves on his shell which might need your advice also, although possibly they are calcium powder that got into a crevice.

He's basking a lot over the last week so maybe that's why - or maybe those other tortoises have their shell oiled to look nice for the photo!

Temperatures are normal under the lamps and he has a sand/soil substrate that we mist daily and mix water into every few days. He is not a digger so doesn't ever get covered by soil. Humidity between 55 and 65. He soaks every day 15-30 mins. His diet is mainly plantain and nettles at the moment with dandelion when we find it, and soaked pre-alpin testudo mixed in - he has this 5 days out of 7.

Thanks,

TP
Last edited by TortyPerson on 18 Jan 2022, 09:10, edited 1 time in total.

TortyPerson
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Aug 2021, 11:06

Re: Dry looking shell

Post by TortyPerson » 18 Jan 2022, 08:58

[attachment=0]20220118_085541.jpg[/attachment]
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Nina
Posts: 1694
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Dry looking shell

Post by Nina » 18 Jan 2022, 09:28

Hi TP,

Happy New Year to you and Gonzales!

First of all, your husbandry sounds absolutely spot on. I know it's difficult this time of year, but with the fresh food you are finding, and the pre-alpin testudo, he is getting a good diet, and everything else sounds perfect too, so well done for providing him with a good environment.

Regarding his shell -- it doesn't look at all dull to mel, and in fact it has a healthy slight lustre to it. I'm not sure where you are seeing photos of other tortoises, but sometimes people photograph their tortoise when the shell is wet and that makes it look shiny, and in the old days people did used to oil the shell to make it look shiny (and I think many people probably still do), but it is very bad, and really dangerous to do that.

Tortoise shells have pores in them so that heat can be retained or can be released, enabling the tortoise to thermoregulate. Repeated oiling of a shell clogs those pores and can cause serious issues, plus in time the old oil that has soaked into the pores turns black and is very difficult to remove. I've seen photos of a rescued tortoise whose shell was completely black from having been oiled, and then a photo of the same tortoise after the oil had been painstakingly removed (it took months) -- just had a search online but couldn't find it, but take it from me, it was horrendous. When there are oil spills in the ocean, there is a reason why rescuers spend lots of time trying to remove that oil from animals (including sea turtles) that have been covered in oil.

I think the idea of shiny shells being good is a human thing, and in the wild tortoises certainly don't have shiny shells. Just thinking off the top of my head, and with no proof for my theory, I guess that aside from all the blocking of pores stuff, a tortoise in the wild with a shiny shell would be more of a target for predators, as the sun would reflect off it and make it more noticeable, so they aren't designed to have really shiny shells.

I think you should be really proud of Gonzales' lovely shell -- he looks to be a very healthy tortoise to me!

Nina

TortyPerson
Posts: 54
Joined: 15 Aug 2021, 11:06

Re: Dry looking shell

Post by TortyPerson » 18 Jan 2022, 11:22

Thank you Nina, and wishing you and everybody at TTT a very happy new year!

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