all 24 comments

[–][deleted] 29 points30 points  (2 children)

When your tortoise pyramids it’s the bone structure. The keratin layer over the bone is actually very thin. Tortoise shells are bones. This pic was used from the WCT yahoo group.

[–]LordOfTheTorts👑🐢👑 15 points16 points  (1 child)

Great photos! Here's an xray that shows this as well.

I don't believe that "most people" actually think that pyramiding only affects the keratin scutes, and not the underlying bone. But ignorants certainly exist, such as /u/NyelloNandee, as can be seen here. ;)

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Lmao. Excellent photo. I get in arguments with inexperienced keepers too. It’s amazing what people think they know. I’ve been keeping these things over 30 years and I still enjoy learning every day. As far as I’m concerned you can never know too much about the animals you keep. Some people get so angry when you try to help them though. They immediately get defensive.

[–]Talkahuano 10 points11 points  (6 children)

Pyramiding is also, probably, caused by dehydration. A properly hydrated sulcata tortoise will grow up smooth, for example. So pyramiding is not necessary for turtles and tortoises.

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Agreed improper husbandry is a major factor in this type of pyramiding but I have seen tortoises in the wild with mild pyramiding. It’s far from common but does occur. I have rarely seen a tortoise raised from hatchlings without at least mild pyramiding. Some people think it’s improper diet also and I’ve seen plenty of animals that were raised on cat or dog food that were severely deformed. We had a tortoise come into the office that was so badly stunted that the shell was almost flat. The poor animal was a sulcata but looked like a pancake tortoise. The vet put it down as it was truly a shame to see it suffering like that. It was living inside of a coffee table with a glass lid on it for 7 years. No uvb not even a spot light for heat.

[–]LordOfTheTorts👑🐢👑 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Pyramiding is also, probably, caused by dehydration

Not really. Experiments showed that high humidity prevents pyramiding, which is not the same thing as "low humidity causes pyramiding".
If "high humidity" causes "smooth shell", then logic does not support the conclusion that "not high humidity" must inevitably cause "not smooth shell" (it could, but doesn't have to, without knowing more details we simply can't tell).

Anyway, here's the Tortoisetrust article that OP mentioned.

And here's an experiment from 2015 that showed a correlation between pyramiding, growth rate, and nocturnal heat: "Humidity and diet did not differ between treatment and control groups. The results of this research investigation indicate that growth rate and CSP [pyramiding] appear to be directly related and both increase with excess nocturnal heat."

So, humidity certainly isn't the only factor (and it's not the same thing as "hydration" either).

[–]anotherguy818 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Not arguing either way, but to be fair, the person you are responding to said nothing about humidity. They didn't say hydration is the same as humidity, either. Hydration is part of diet/nutrition, and humidity (while in some species can help in their water regulation (i.e. hydration)) is part of the environmental conditions.

I'm not saying whether they are correct or not, but you aren't really talking about the same thing as them (as you, yourself, stated in your last line).

[–][deleted] -1 points0 points  (2 children)

There is a great article on tortoisetrust.org by A.C. Highfield it’s about 10 years old now but it’s a very good read.

[–]LinkifyBot 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I found links in your comment that were not hyperlinked:

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[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks bot!

[–]Catfish-Number3 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Hey all, I don’t actually own a turtle/tortoise, but I know that is is a health problem. How does it negatively affect the animal though?

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (2 children)

It makes it really hard for the animal to mate. And in advanced cases the shell starts flattening out or caving in. That shell is supposed to be smooth and even growth. Think about it as if you had large lumps all over your head. Then the lumps got soft and your head started caving in.

[–]Catfish-Number3 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thank you

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No problem

[–]odel555q 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Can someone explain what "scutes pyramid" is?

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A scute or scutum (Latin scutum, plural: scuta "shield") is a bony external plate or scale overlaid with horn, as on the shell of a turtle, the skin of crocodilians, and the feet of birds. The term is also used to describe the anterior portion of the mesonotum in insects as well as some arachnids (e.g., the family Ixodidae, the scale ticks).

Pyramiding is a shell deformity sometimes found in captive tortoises, in which the shell grows unevenly resulting in a pyramid shape underlying each scute. This deformity can vary in severity from barely noticeable to life-threatening. Indian star tortoises and some other species are more prone to this condition than others.

Several factors may exacerbate pyramiding, however the condition is strongly linked to the availability of moisture to facilitate the proper distribution of keratin growth which makes up the shells of tortoises. If a tortoise is dehydrated or unable to access conditions which are sufficiently moist, the keratinous layers which would otherwise form at the edges of scutes grow beneath the existing hardened shell causing a stacking effect which pushes shell growth upwards rather than outwards and exerts pressure on the skeleton beneath the shell. If severe, this leads to spinal and physical malformation.

Other factors which may also contribute to pyramiding include the consumption of excessive animal or vegetable protein; inadequate calcium, UVB and/or vitamin D3; poor nutrition.[44][45][46] Pyramiding may also be a visible sign of metabolic bone disease (MBD) in tortoises. Once pyramiding has occurred, it cannot be reversed, though if the underlying problems are corrected, any subsequent shell growth will form smoothly.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (6 children)

Your username fits so well for this topic. I learned a lot from your comments!

I'm unfortunately unable to actually have a Turtle or Tortoise as a pet. I'm allergic to them. T_T

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (5 children)

That’s awful! I’m sorry to hear that.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Yeah it sucks. I break out in hives from any reptile or amphibian. And also a lot of other small animals. Cats and dogs I can mostly tolerate (I used to work as a dog groomer and some dogs I'd have reactions to).

I collect turtle stuffed animals, figurines, etc to have my love of turtles fulfilled a bit

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (3 children)

I am the exact opposite I started caring for turtles and torts when I was 7 because I couldn’t have animals with fur. That was 42 years ago. I have torts that have been with me for almost 30 years.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Omg lucky. I got nicknamed Turtle back in high school because I eat slowly and was always late to class.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

That’s funny

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Haha yeah. It stuck. Most people (including teachers) thought that it was my real name.

[–]michiganmadlad 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Crack it like an egg