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Newbie with a few questions
Posted: 25/11/2010 by Phil T.

Hello all,

I have just come across this site and hope you may be able to help me. I was given a tortoise at the end of June to look after which had been found in a neighbour's garden. It was given to me because my Mum has had a tortoise for getting on for 40 years and so I ostensibly knew a bit about it. I think the found tort is a Horsfield's, judging by online descriptions, pictures and the fact that he(?) has four claws on each foot.

Nobody has claimed the tortoise despite me having asked about locally. I've shied away from postering as I think it would be too easy for someone to calim him knowing that tortoises are worth money.

It's beginning to look like he or she is here for the long haul, which I don't mind. I built an enclosure for him in the garden over the summer, fed him mainly dandelions and he's been quite happy and seemingly very healthy. It's only now that it's coming to hibernation time that I've started to get a bit nervous and done a bit of on-line research which has led me here. Firstly I'd like to be able to positively identify him as  a Horsfields. Would the easiest thing be to put up some photos? Which bits should I photograph for ease of identification?

Secondly, I've started thinking about hibernating him, as that's what my mum has always done with hers. But I don't know whether he's been hibernated before and although he seems in good nick, I can't be sure that he hasn't suffered from any illnesses over the last year. I haven't a clue how old he is. Also I'm not sure whether he has enough water on board, as dehydration seems to be a big issue. I've just weighed and measured him and he is 631g and 14cm in length. Any advice would be gratefully received!




Re: Newbie with a few questions
Posted: 02/12/2010 by Don

Have you had him checked by a vet since he came into your care? In particular, for worms and/or other parasites.


His weight seems pretty goods for his size, so that should not be an issue. However, it is quite late to be starting the hibernation process.


Has he been eating over the past few weeks? Have you bathed him during this time? Where is he housed right now? What is your location? When did he last poo & wee? Was there any white urate in his last wees?

Re: Newbie with a few questions
Posted: 05/12/2010 by Phil T.

I haven't had him checked over by a vet, I'm afraid so not sure about worms/parasites.

We are near Preston in Lancashire. He was eating and moving around up until about a week and a half ago when he seemed to decide for himself that it was time to go to sleep. Since then he has been in our conservatory, which has been his favourite inside spot since he's been living with us. It can get pretty cold in there at this time of year so I have kept it from going too cold with a heater. It's about 9degreesC in there at night but I have been keeping it more at room temperature (16-17degrees) for daylight hours. He was making a beeline for the warmest spot, but now is in another corner and has moved only occasionally for the last week or so. His last poo and wee were also about a week and a half ago. There has been no white urate in his urine. I haven't bathed him since he stopped eating, prior to that I was bathing him for ten mins at a time once or twice a week.

He seems to have decided to hibernate himself from what I can see. I have touched his back leg since he's been sleeping to check he's still with us and he has moved it very slightly. Not sure what to do next to be honest.

Re: Newbie with a few questions
Posted: 09/12/2010 by TPGDave

Hello Phil,

This is tricky because it usually best to get to know the tortoise, ensure its 100% healthy before hibernation. The temperatures you have in the conservetory are quite dangerous for a hibernating species. Its a kind of inbetween where its not warm enough to encourage normal activity but its not cold enough to induce full hibernation in the tortoise.  A stable 5 degrees centigrade is ideal for a hibernating tortoise. If you feel this is the best choice for this tortoise at this time, you need to get the tortoise somewhere that is constantly around this temperature. There are various method to do this, some people box the tortoise up and keep them in an outbuilding, some use a fridge. A short hibernation of 6-8 weeks may be appropriate here, it'll give you time to come up with a solution to ensure the tortoise is able to return to activity levels post hibernation.

Please have a look through the information on both housing and hibernation under the "The tortoise" links to the left and please feel fre to ask any questions.

Re: Newbie with a few questions
Posted: 10/12/2010 by Phil T.

Thanks very much for your guidance. I am going to hibernate him for a short time as suggested and am just sorting out a spot with the required constant temp. I'll let you know how I get on and will contact you if I have any more queries. Thanks again!



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