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Anyone with a tortoise to hibernate.

(8 Posts)
stmumschool Wed 21-Sep-11 16:49:55

Just wondering how long my tortoise should hibernate this year. He is 8 and we put him in the fridge (controlled temp of course!!) We've hibernated him early Nov the last 3 years for about 6/7 wks. He's still happy in the garden atm although obviously slowing down . Anyone been doing this a while who could share their experience?

DoesItWearingWellies Wed 21-Sep-11 22:14:29

What species is he?

I have knowledge of spur-thigh, Hermans and Russian tortoises, so apologies if your tort is a different species as the info might not be appropriate.

As a rule, tortoises shouldn't hibernate for longer than 10 weeks a year. We allow ours to hibernate after not eating for a fortnight-3 weeks. Any longer than this and they will start using fat reserves they laid down for hibernation as their metabolism wouldn't have slowed to hibernation levels.

I totally agree with putting them in the fridge (what we do with ours) as it prevents them from prematurely waking. Check on him once a week just to make sure he's not urinated as he would then have to be woken up, and weigh him to make sure he hasn't lost more than 1% of his body weight per month.

Just make sure he has a nice warm tortoise table with plenty of UV light for him to return to after hibernation and try to get him to eat as soon as possible.

Gradually increase the temp from room temp to 26-28 degrees over a week or so, and the length of time the UV bulb is on from 8hrs to 12-14hrs over the same length of time, and plenty of warm baths are a must.

Best of luck with your little guy!

stmumschool Thu 22-Sep-11 15:52:35

Thanks Wellies. He's a Herman (should have said.) Yep, doing all the bits you said. Do you think 7/8 wks ok? Would u suggest tha I try for a bit longer this year as he's eaten well and weighing ok. Roughly when do you hibenate yours? Earlier than Nov? Many, many thanks.

stmumschool Thu 22-Sep-11 15:53:34

hibernate, sorry!

bruffin Thu 22-Sep-11 16:16:13

We have a spur thighed which has been DH's for 40 years and belonged to someone else before that so could easly be 50 or 60.
Joe has always lived in the garden
I always hibernate him when he starts to digging in the garden, which is around November time and he wakes up march - april. He usually buries himself so that the top of his shell is showing, usually in same place in the garden. I dig him out, give him a clean off and then we hibernate him in a box in the garage (the car has never been in the garage so no fumes) and can always hear him moving around when he wakes up.

DoesItWearingWellies Thu 22-Sep-11 18:41:16

7/8 weeks is absolutely fine. Obviously the longer they hibernate, the more fat reserves they use, so as long as there is food about for him to eat when he wakes up, then it is ideal. Don't feel you have to hibernate him that extra fortnight (but obviously it is less food you have to grow if you do leave him a bit longer!)

We hibernate ours usually early November - we don't have much say in it, just when they've stopped eating and are sleeping longer! Like I said, give them 2-3 weeks after they have stopped eating before putting them in the fridge as it allows them to clear their digestive tract so food doesn't ferment in their intestines.

lazydog Thu 22-Sep-11 21:10:07

DoesItWearingWellies has it covered, but just to add (and I'm sure you already know - it's just not been mentioned and is so important) when doing the wind-down/fasting period, food should be withheld, but not water!

I would say go for the extra 2 weeks. The 8 week hibernation period you're currently giving is what I would do for my hatchlings. My 3 year olds are going to have 10 weeks, my adults 12 (if all goes to plan!)

The 10 week "limit" mentioned by DoesItWearingWellies is kind of arbitrary and excellent advice for anyone still using the box in the garage method, as temperature fluctuations will likely increase the weight loss, but in carefully controlled (and monitored) fridge conditions, providing you're weighing regularly, there's no reason why 12 weeks would be too long...

That said, it's all down to personal choice. I live in Canada and have around 5-6 months of snow on the ground, so obviously a slightly longer hibernation period is preferable here than if I lived somewhere milder, where they could go outside for longer each year and where dandelions appear before April grin.

stmumschool Fri 23-Sep-11 15:26:57

Cheers everyone. How fab is mumsnet! I really appreciate all your advice. Happy hibernating one and all. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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