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Weight too low? First hibernation.
Posted: 07/11/2014 by Hugo


Please could you give me some advice. I have a male Horsfield who is around 18 months old. I have had him since Aug and this is his first hibernation. He has slowed down, reduced his food intake and is burrowing. These seem good signs he is ready to hibe? However, he is 120cm and weighs 205g - 50g less than 7 weeks ago. According to the McIntyre Ratio for Horsfields, his weight is very low. What shall I do? Is he safe to hibe? Shall I leave it until next year? He will go into the garage outside once I can be sure he is healthy enough. 
Thanks in advance. 

Re: Weight too low? First hibernation.
Posted: 09/11/2014 by Tom

Hello Hugo,

Judging by the size of your tort., it is not 18 months, but 4+ years. This indicates that it's from a pet dealer & therefore be cautious, it would be better to hibe. it in Feb. & March only, provided that it prospers.
Be aware that many pet trade torts. have serious problems. 

It is natural for it to burrow - it's a horsfields, that is not an indication that it is ready to hibe.
50g is a large amount of weight loss, it needs to regain the same amount.

I suggest that you click on "The Tortoise /Incl…." to download a Care sheet & also read up on hibernation.

Not all garages are suitable for hibernation, take daily temps. with a Max/Min thermometer, keep records.
It must be car free.


Re: Weight too low? First hibernation.
Posted: 09/11/2014 by Hugo

Hi Tom,

Many thanks for your reply and info. I did buy my Horsfield from a home which had 17 the same size of mine and they all seemed healthy, I'm very angry that I have been told lies as age wasn't really an issue to me! I may take mine to a visit to the vet for a check over. I will look into hiberbation during the months you have suggested. Fingers crossed he is fine.
Thanks again. 

Re: Weight too low? First hibernation.
Posted: 18/11/2014 by Tom

Thank you for your reply Hugo, which I have just found & I regret the delay.

One problem is that some dealers are pretending to be breeders, this usually involves horsfields.

The TPG is aware of some of these people. Can you indicate where you bought it please ?


Re: Weight too low? First hibernation.
Posted: 20/11/2014 by Hugo

Our tortoise seems fine now and have taken your advice about hibernation. He eats well, enjoys a bath and isn't showing any signs that he is unwell. His current weight is 255g.

The guy I bought him off buys them from a 70+ aged man who lives in Irlam near Manchester who breeds them. I know this because I was keen to see his parents but they weren't there.
He advertised the tortoises on Gumtree and lives in Runcorn. Is this illegal? 

Re: Weight too low? First hibernation.
Posted: 21/11/2014 by Tom

That's good Hugo & thanks for the info.

It is illegal to state that a specimen is captive bred if it isn't. The tale you've been told is typical of of a dealer's sales pitch.

This seems to be a new one.

Best wishes,


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