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Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 20/09/2008 by Joanne

Hello everyone,


I am getting very stressed out about hiberntaion! I am looking for a fridge and have become very confused as to which one would be best for me. I have looked at a larder fridge in Argos but I have no idea where I would keep this. Would I be ok keeping it in my bedroom or would it be too warm? The other possibility is keeping the fridge in the porch which is not heated and gets very cold with the weather. Would this be better?


I have also been looking at a Husky beer fridge which is a lot smaller and would probably be better for the space I have. Do any of you have experience with using these fridges? What can be used to block the light out? Cardboard? Plastic?


Another question I have is what should the tortoise be kept in while in the fridge? I was planning to use a plastic food storage box but I have read somewhere that cardboard boxes are better. What do you all use? Then there is the question of substrate. Should I use soil or shredded paper?


Sorry for all of the questions. I need to order a fridge very soon so I can get it set up and monitor the temperatures so I would appreciate your help.


Thanks in advance,


Joanne xx 

Re: Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 20/09/2008 by TPGDarren

Hi Jo,

 

Hibernation is a very worrying time, which is why so many people opt out year after year. There is absolutely nothing to worry about providing the tortoise is 100% fit and a good hibernation environment is achieved.

 

Most larder fridges are ok (without a freezer compartment), the trouble is you don't know how stable they are until after they are up and running. Some people use the small chiller fridges with varying success. I have heard good reports about the Stella Artois fridges, manufactured by Husky.

 

http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/131477/50l-stella-artois-beer-fridge-39-99

 

These are "supposed" to be quite good and Husky certainly does have a good reputation in the manufacturing of fridges, so it may well be worth a try. My large double-door fridge I use here for the tortoises is manufactured by them also. I tape polystyrene to the glass doors to insulate the glass and help maintain the temperatures.

Itís better to keep a fridge in a stable environment that has background heat. Fridges do not operate very well in colder conditions or in extreme heat and can become unreliable, so wouldnít recommend it being kept in the porch. The bedroom would be a better option, but away from any direct heat source (e.g. radiator).

 

Soil is the best substrate to use. Itís denser that shredded paper and will help maintain a stable environment and minimise temperature fluctuations, if you opt for this you really do need a ventilated plastic box.

 

As youíve said the key is to get it up and running as soon as possible to allow you to set it up and monitor the temps over as long a period as possible.

 

Please donít hesitate to ask any questions as Iím sure there are many others in the same position.

 

Darren

 

Re: Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 20/09/2008 by tpgNina

Hi Joanne,

Good advice from Darren. The only thing I would add is that some people say that they have trouble keeping a stable temperature in even the Husky table top fridges (which are the best of the table tops), while others say that they hibernate in them with no problems at all. What you can't use is those very small chiller boxes for beer and wine.
Have you read our articles on hibernation? Here is a link to the page, and there is one on fridge hibernation there that might help:
http://www.tortoise-protection-group.org.uk/site/78.asp

Nina

Re: Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 21/09/2008 by Joanne

Thank you Darren and Nina. I really appreciate your help and advice - it really helps to put my mind at ease.


I have been advised not to hibernate my 2 month old Horsfield hatchling this year as I have only owned her for a couple of weeks and she will not be totally settled into her new home when hibernation comes around. Is this correct? Should I not hibernate her this year? I know some of you wait until the tortoise is at least a year old for hibernation and I think that this might be best as I am not very confident about it.


If I did not hibernate Lily I may have problems. I have another horsfield tortoise, Ruby, who is 1 year old and she lives with Lily. If I was to hibernate one and not the other I would need another tortoise table and heating equipment, etc as the larger table would need to be used for the wind down period for Ruby. This is not really ideal as I will not have enough time to get all of the new equipment set up. This would also mean disturbing one of the tortoises when they are moved to another set up and would cause unneccessary stress to the tortoises.


The question that all of this is leading to is 'Would it be ok for me to wait until next year to hibernate both tortoises?' I have only owned Ruby for a couple of months and Lily a couple of weeks. I do not feel confident at all with hibernation and would feel awful if anything happened to my babies because of this. I really do care for my tortoises and only want the best for them but do not want to cause them any harm in the process.


I know I sound like I am trying to get out of hibernating my tortoises but I am honestly thinking of them and what is best to keep them safe and healthy.


I am very sorry for yet more questions,


Joanne xx

Re: Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 22/09/2008 by tpgNina

Hi Joanne,

This is a really difficult one, isn't it? I personally wouldn't hibernate Lily this year if she is around 20g or so, as I don't think I would take the risk, and you have only had her a short time. If Ruby was hibernated by her previous owner, then she probably should be hibernated now, as she will want to do so. However, if you really can't find room for a second enclosure, and if Ruby is not showing signs of wanting to hibernate, then I expect you could keep her up too. It isn't the best thing for her, but it won't be fatal either , but you will have to be very careful with feeding, as it is in the early years when horsfields can overeat and when there is the greatest likelihood of pyramiding occurring. I think my advice might be controversial, and others will say you should definitely hibernate one or both of them, but I do think that for one year, when you have not had either of them a long time, it will not do lasting damage to keep them awake this winter.

Nina

Re: Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 22/09/2008 by TPGDarren

Hi Jo,

Yep - I have to agree with Nina. In the wild they would most definitely hibernate during their first year as they obviously have no option. What we don't know is how many tortoises persish during their 1st hibernation as this undoubtedly happens. I personally know a number of good keepers that have lost babies during their first hibernation year. Personally I don't hibernate my babies here until they are at least 30g. As Nina has said, many keepers do push for hibernation during the first year. We should whenever possible replicate their natural behaviour in the wild, but at some point we have to weigh up the risks against the benefits. Providing all is well health-wise, definitely next year though:-)

HTH
Darren


HTH
Darren

Re: Fridge for hibernation!
Posted: 09/11/2016 by Barney

Hi all,

I have acquired a one hundred year old Hermain tortoise, who is in fantastic health and a real character. She is 290 mm in length and weighs a healthy 4750 grammes. 
I have had her since the spring and now it's coming time for hibernation I'm really nervous!
She used to hibernate under her previous owners shed and come out again when the weather warmed up, I want to hibernate her in a fridge as suggested by experts now, can anyone recommend a suitable fridge given her size.
Thanks 
Neil

 

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