Objective-To assess dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for evaluating effects of diet and environment on bone mineral density in Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni). Animals-26 Hermann's tortoises within 1 month after hatching. Procedures-Group 1 was housed in an artificial setting and fed naturally growing vegetation. Group 2 was housed in an artificial setting and fed vegetables grown for human consumption. Group 3 was maintained in an outside enclosure and fed naturally growing vegetation. After 10 months, pyramidal growth, body weight, and adverse conditions were assessed. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the axial and appendicular skeleton, shell, vertebral column, and pelvis was measured via DXA. Results-Group 2 had the highest mean ± SD body weight (65.42 ± 30.85 g), followed by group 1 (51.08 ± 22.92 g) and group 3 (35.74 ± 7.13 g). Mean BMD of the shell varied significantly among groups (group 1, 0.05 ± 0.03 g/cm2•m; group 2, 0.09 ± 0.15 g/cm2•m; and group 3, undetectable). The BMD of the axial and appendicular skeleton, vertebral column, and pelvis did not differ significantly among groups. Pyramidal growth was highest in group 1 and not evident in group 3. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance-Tortoises raised in artificial conditions did not have deficits in BMD, compared with results for outdoor-housed hibernating tortoises. Supplemental calcium was apparently not necessary when an adequate photothermal habitat and plant-based diet were provided. Higher BMD of captive-raised tortoises was morphologically associated with a higher incidence of pyramidal growth in captive-raised groups.
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