Influence of calcium offered to leopard tortoises
Influence of the calcium content of the diet offered to leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis)
Twenty-four juvenile leopard tortoises were divided into four groups of six; one group was fed a basic low-calcium feed for six months, and the other three groups were fed the same basic diet supplemented with one, three and nine times the amount of calcium recommended as a supplement to the diet of reptiles.
The animals' bone mineral content and bone mineral density were estimated by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, and blood samples were taken at the start and at the conclusion of the study. One tortoise from each group was examined postmortem. There was a clear depletion of calcium in the body of the tortoises receiving no calcium supplement, and the shell of the tortoises receiving the recommended calcium supplement did not calcify to the extent expected. The tortoises that received three times the recommended calcium supplementation had the highest growth rate and were thriving. However, metastatic calcifications were observed postmortem in the two groups that were given the highest doses of calcium.