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Substrate or not??
Posted: 30/09/2009 by tortoise7

Hi Guys
Can you help me out with a dilemna. I am getting  my fridge set up and running, and putting the dummy boxes in the fridge to get the correct temps. What I am dithering about is that I am going to hibernate Keya for the first time this year, and will only hibernate her for 4 weeks as it is her first time, my dilemna is shall I put substrate or shredded paper in her box? It is recommended to use substrate because she can thermoregulate herself and prevent herself from getting too cold, but how will I be able to see if she has wee'd or not? Others have said use the shredded paper, help!!!
Jane , Keya & Molly


Re: Substrate or not??
Posted: 30/09/2009 by Ozric

Hi Jane.  I think 4 weeks is not long enough for hibernation because the stress of winding down and waking up would not be justified by that length of rest.  I would suggest 8 weeks but please wait for others to comment. Generally, if the tortoise is fit to hibernate then 8 weeks is a minimal length.  You can monitor how your tort is doing and if excess weight is lost, can decide to end hibernation.

There is an advantage in using soil as a material to hibernate your tortoise in because of the problem with humidity.  Most if not all weight lost during hibernation is water and it can be helpful to reduce or prevent this by hibernating the tortoise is slightly moist soil.  It is true though as you say that its very difficult to tell with a soil substrate if the tortoise has wee'ed. 

Personally I like to be completlely in control of the temperature inside the hibernation box by having a thermometer probe in there and keeping a close eye on it.  I wouldn't choose a substrate for reasons of temperature because I'm intending to fix that quite precisely.  I'm not sure that in a small hibernation box there would be any variation in the temperature of the substrate, so digging down to avoid excess cold above, which they can do in the wild, probably wouldn't work for them.

Hope this helps a bit, but I'm not one of the resident specialists so please do wait and see what else appears here.  Jonathan



Re: Substrate or not??
Posted: 01/10/2009 by tortoise7

Hi Jonathon

Thanks for your reply will post again when I get home from work to ask abit more about your reply 6pm


Re: Substrate or not??
Posted: 01/10/2009 by tpgAli

Hi Jane,

Please can you remind us how old is Keya and how much does she weigh? The length of hibernation depends on this! I agree that 4 weeks is a little too short and i hibernate by babies for 6-8 weeks. If you chose to use sand/soil in the box then i wouldnt worry too much as it will help to keep her hydrated throughout her hibernation. My russians dig down in their soil in the greenhouse to hibernate and i have never had any probs with them, if you make sure she is fully wound down and bathed regularly during this period then she should be fine.


Re: Substrate or not??
Posted: 03/10/2009 by tortoise7

Hi Ali

Keya is a 3yr old Hermans. Her weight is 283 gms and 11.3 cms. at this present time she is coming out at 0.196 I would like abit more, but have been struggling to keep her growth down, so very difficult.

Also I have another problem, I am putting Molly & Keya in the one and only fridge I brought for them (I hibernated Molly the adult in it last year) in different boxes, but Molly's box as it is so big is on the bottom and her temps are coming out betweem 3.9 - 5.2 (this is with packing the fridge with water) but Keya's temps are 5.9- 6.3 which is higher than recommended, my big problem is that I cannot turn the fridge down because it would be too low for Molly, ahhhhh this is a nightmare, I am so glad that I have started early to get the temps OK before I put them in. Have you got any suggestions for me?

Hi Jonathan, sorry didn't get back to you, unexpected visitors (nice though).


Jane, Molly & Keya

Re: Substrate or not??
Posted: 04/10/2009 by TPGDarren

Hi Jane,

Is it not possible to place them in smaller boxes on one shelf (in the middles of the two existing shelves) or use one larger box for both?


Re: Substrate or not??
Posted: 04/10/2009 by tortoise7

Hi Darren
It's not possible to downsize boxes, as Molly is a big girl. You did make me think on a different thought pattern though, and have done some juggling, removing bits from the inside door, making plinths, and I think we could be there, I will just have to see how the temps settle over night now. If the box at the bottom goes abit lower then the the one higher up,  I can turn the fridge up which will regulate the two boxes to the same temps. that's the theory but will see how the practice pans out. Will post tomorrow to let you know. What would you suggest as substrate for little baby Keya?


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