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fridge hibernation for the first time
Posted: 25/08/2010 by sian

Hi, We are planning on fridge hibernating our tortoise this year for the first time. He is about 40 years old and has previously been hibernating annually in a box in the garage.

Last year he was unwell so we did not hibernate, bringing him indoors over the winter ( he lives outside), and I feel the varying temps during the winter are not good for him using the traditional method anymore.

We will be keeping the fridge in a study in the house so not a cold environment. I have read the document on this site for advice on how to hibernate using this method however was wondering whether any model of fridge has proved to be suitable from other members? He is only a small tortoise so would easily fit in a shoebox size box with room for him to move around.

My only other query was that previously he has been hibernating from approx middle Oct to March which from reading the documentation is too long for the fridge method, when do others hibernate theirs from and to, especially if they are usually kept outside all spring and summer?

Thanks in advance


Re: fridge hibernation for the first time
Posted: 28/08/2010 by tortoise7

Hi Sian

Hibernation is a worrying time for all of us, I have done it twice now (following the hibernation care from this site)with the big one, but it will be the first time for the baby (4yrs),  but I am still getting tummy wobbles for this year!!. I have only done the fridge method and to be honest I would be  a nervous wreck doing it any other way, although I take my hat off to the experienced ones who do. With the fridge method you can control the temps, the only concern is powercuts, but luckily we don't have many in our area but some of my friends do in theirs, the answer to that is a generator which I am currently looking into, if you look back on past posts your will find I am a bit of Mrs belt and braces sort of person with my torts!!!! The fridge you need to be looking at is a larder fridge without a freezer compartment as these run the risk of freezing up, and most certainly keep the temps fluctuating, I brought mine from argos.
How I do the hibernation is firstly look at how many weeks I plan to do the hibernation, on the assumption we will be doing the full term, and then I try to get them to coincide with with mid/end of march wake up ready for spring, so I guess I work backwards from that date. The adult I aim for 12-14wks the baby, as it is her first time I will try for 4-6wks maybe longer, each week depends really on how their weights are going when I weigh them each week, and how the responde to my subtle nips to their legs to see the reaction Click and drag me down to the editor The other little thing I do, is I tape bubble wrap on the outside of the box, the side that will be facing the back of the fridge, as I feel this is a bit more added protection for them just in case the box gets moved to the back where it could run the risk of freezing, and I have loads of thermometers coming out of the box, and as I will be hibernating the babythis year it will look like a bomb disposal unit!!
Regarding care during the summer months, mine are both outside all through the summer, I do have thermastat controlled heating and lights in their outside house for days like we are having at the moment, and I do bring them in everynight so that I can sleep of night without having to worry about them Click and drag me down to the editor
This is only my little routine which works for us, I am sure someone else will share their's with you which will give you some comparisons or ideas. I hope this helped and if I can help please ask I am willing to share any knowledge that has been kindly passed onto me
Jane, Keya & Molly



Re: fridge hibernation for the first time
Posted: 04/09/2010 by TPGDave

Hi Sian,

Totally agree with Jane. Only thing I can add is that using a soil substrate in the hibernation box has greatly reduced the amount of weight (I assume fluid) loss during hibernation. Using soil last year meant that none of my tortoises came anywhere near the accepted 10% weight loss, some showed no weight loss at all.  I aim for 12-14 week hibernation for my Hermanns tortoises. I did hibernate Horsfields last year who stayed down for 18 weeks without issue or weight loss but anything between 8-16 weeks is normal.

Re: fridge hibernation for the first time
Posted: 07/09/2010 by sian

Thanks so much for the advice..I really want to get it right for him..

Has anyone used or know of

says suitable for hibernation, not sure if this would be any better or worse than a larder fridge?



Re: fridge hibernation for the first time
Posted: 07/09/2010 by VivTPG

I havent heard of anyone using this incubator, my concerns would be that its lowest setting is 5C so it may be on the warmer side of this, being more for incubating eggs.  Also for the price you could probable get a small fridge cheaper.

But see if other members have used it, regards Vivienne

Re: fridge hibernation for the first time
Posted: 11/09/2010 by davesears

I used this incubator this year for my two older Hermanns and it worked great. Fridge/Incubator was kept in my garage. Torts in there own cardboard boxes packed with shredded paper. As a backup also used 2 of these thermometers .

This is where I purchased my fridge/incubator

You can still see my two earlier postings on this subject

All the best




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