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Advice for newbie please
Posted: 15/09/2010 by chihuahua606

I posted previously about the tortoise that  was found wandering here at the end of May.  Eventually I decided to keep her, she settled in really well, and I bought her a special tortoise lodge which she loves.

She is somewhere between 25 and 40 years of age; obviously I have no idea of what procedures have been taken for her in her past as regards hibernation.  She weighs about 1800G and measures about 10.5 inches tip to base of shell along the top. (Hermanns)

I have read so much, and much of it conflicting.  But have decided what to do when the time comes - however, what I want to know is - when is the right time?

She was a tortoise that belted round the garden when she first arrived with a massive appetite.  Now she spends a lot of time in her house, and is eating very little - I realise this is due to the cold weather.  I have nowhere to put her where I could put up a lamp, or even if this is necessary.  Even on warmer days there is not much heat in the sun at this time of year.

Is what I am seeing normal?  Will she stay in her house now with the weather so wet and windy?  How will I know when to put her in a box for hibernation - if I get it wrong it would be like burying somebody alive!!!  Is hay and shredded paper a good mix for hibernation materials?  At the moment there is only hay in her house, but I thought adding paper would be better in the winter.

I have about 3/4 of an acre garden, but she has decided which part is hers now, and seldom goes off it.  I brought her in to the kitchen last night to warm her a bit, but she seemed disorientated and worried.

Sorry this is so long-winded, I am anxious to get it right.


Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 15/09/2010 by TPGDave

Hi there,

This is a tricky ine because in my oqn honest opinion you are not likely to see rortoise friendly conditions until late march/ early april next year now and I feel 6 months of exposure to sub optimal conditions is no good for a Hermanns tortoise. You can continue to let the tortoise wind down now and once there has been no activity for 4 weeks you can put the tortoise into a prepared hibernation box. I really wouldnt go much over 16 weeks with a Hermanns so you would need to provide some form of artificial light and heat in the early spring.

Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 15/09/2010 by chihuahua606


Thanks for replying.  I had assumed that weather would be nice through September and then the wind-down would occur through October.

Is everyone else in the same position as me then? 

Is it okay to just leave her in her hutch now?  Even though there was a bit of sun today she didn't come out at all.

Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 16/09/2010 by tortoise7

That is great that you decided to keep her!!
They do react very quickly to the weather changes, my adult didn't eat anything yesterday, and snuggled up under her lavender bush all day. I took her out and put her under her lamp in her outdoor house later in the day to warm up, as I don't want her  to start winding herself down now, because as Dave says, it would be too long a hibernation. You will need some form of heating for her to keep her going and to keep the temps to a nice level so that the food can be digested and passed through, this can only be obtained in temps of above 18c which is going to have to be artificial now, unless the weather picks up again?
Take a look at Kimbos reptiles they have all the equipment you need and Darren is always so helpful.
Good luck and keep posting, as we are all on a continuous learning curve in the world of torts Click and drag me down to the editor
Jane, Keya & Molly

Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 17/09/2010 by chihuahua606

Thankyou - I understand the point about artificial heating.

I have looked, and there seems so many - could somebody tell me exactly what I need please?

Also is it possible, or even acceptable, to use the heat lamp outside by means of an extension cable; this would mean that the tortoise could remain in the part of the garden that she has chosen for herself and still use her house - which is situated on a paved area surrounded by trellis and with easy access to large garden all round.

Just realised that electric and rain - not a good combination - any prizes for stupidity?



Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 17/09/2010 by VivTPG

Hi, do you have a shed or greenhouse you could put the tortoise in before its time to hibernate?  You could then put the wooden hutch inside that and rig electric lamps up in too?

Regards Vivienne

Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 20/09/2010 by chihuahua606

Okay, well I have had a busy weekend for this very ungrateful tortoise.

I have a 6 foot by about 12 foot, brick built enclosure, all undercover.  I have bought a heatlamp - cost 63 and an extension cable to get electricity down there for her (its about 40 meters from nearest power point), cost 39.

I have also bought a sturdy cloche and opened up one end for her to sunbathe under on sunny days (cost 14.)

I have put up wooden boards to stop her straying into the business part of the premises and maybe getting lost (or stolen).  I left open two gates so that if she wished she could get back onto her area of the garden.

Okay - fitted up the lamp and put her under it - she just wandered out and back to her hutch.

Today put the cloche outside for her as she had got herself up and was sitting in the flower bed, put her in the cloche with some food - she turned round, marched out and walked back to the flower bed.

Saw her eating a small amount of weeds, and now she is back in bed.







Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 20/09/2010 by VivTPG

That sounds great, well done, so she can now go into the brick enclosure when she wants? If that is the case could you put the hutch in there too so she can associate that as home!  She can then warm up under the lamp and on sunny days just go straight into the garden, she will only need the cloche when its colder.  Also, this is all new to her, she will have to find her way around.  But well done, that's one lucky tort!!

Can you let us see any pics?

Regards Vivienne

Re: Advice for newbie please
Posted: 23/09/2010 by chihuahua606

Thankyou for your kind words.

I will try and get some pics when there is a sunnier day.

Yes, I will move the hutch in to the shelter - I have been thinking about it, and then yesterday it was quite warm.



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