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Variation in growth and potentially associated health status in Hermann's and spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo hermanni and Testudo graeca)


Ritz, J; Clauss, Marcus; Streich, W J; Hatt, Jean-Michel (2012). Variation in growth and potentially associated health status in Hermann's and spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo hermanni and Testudo graeca). Zoo Biology, 31(6):705-717.

Abstract

Captive reptiles often show higher growth rates than in the wild, possibly due to higher feeding intensity. Although health problems are usually linked to inappropriate diets, fast growth itself, such as triggered by appropriate diets fed in high amounts, has traditionally also been considered unfavourable for tortoises. We document growth rates (based on age and mass) from private Testudo hermanni and graeca breeders, which are generally higher than those reported for free-ranging specimens, but show enormous variation. Tortoise patients presented to an exotics clinic also covered the whole growth rate spectrum. To test whether fast growth was associated with diseases, the age-body mass relationship of these patients was tested, in a retrospective evaluation, for additional influence factors, such as dietary history and occurrence of certain diet and growth-related diseases. No indication was found that animals particularly heavy for their age were more prone to diet/growth related disorders. In general, tortoises fed diets with meat/grain were heavier for their age than tortoises fed more appropriate diets; dietary history was not related to a particular disease. The results suggest the age-body mass relationship may not be suitable for testing effects of fast growth; an age-body length relationship would be more appropriate. Animals presented for a diet/growth related disorder were younger than animals presented for other reasons; there was a significant negative correlation between the severity of pyramiding and age, suggesting that growth-related disorders may well limit the life expectancy of tortoises. Controlled clinical studies are required to fully test this hypothesis.

Abstract

Captive reptiles often show higher growth rates than in the wild, possibly due to higher feeding intensity. Although health problems are usually linked to inappropriate diets, fast growth itself, such as triggered by appropriate diets fed in high amounts, has traditionally also been considered unfavourable for tortoises. We document growth rates (based on age and mass) from private Testudo hermanni and graeca breeders, which are generally higher than those reported for free-ranging specimens, but show enormous variation. Tortoise patients presented to an exotics clinic also covered the whole growth rate spectrum. To test whether fast growth was associated with diseases, the age-body mass relationship of these patients was tested, in a retrospective evaluation, for additional influence factors, such as dietary history and occurrence of certain diet and growth-related diseases. No indication was found that animals particularly heavy for their age were more prone to diet/growth related disorders. In general, tortoises fed diets with meat/grain were heavier for their age than tortoises fed more appropriate diets; dietary history was not related to a particular disease. The results suggest the age-body mass relationship may not be suitable for testing effects of fast growth; an age-body length relationship would be more appropriate. Animals presented for a diet/growth related disorder were younger than animals presented for other reasons; there was a significant negative correlation between the severity of pyramiding and age, suggesting that growth-related disorders may well limit the life expectancy of tortoises. Controlled clinical studies are required to fully test this hypothesis.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Farm Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:13 Dec 2012 12:53
Last Modified:14 Nov 2017 09:10
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0733-3188
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21002

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