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hibernation query
Posted: 21/08/2011 by bubbles

Hi there
Just a quick query I am gathering all the things together that will be needed for doing the box method for hibernating my tortoise.
I hope you don't mind if I just throw lots of questions at you because I am so worried about hibernating my young one when the time comes(I am aiming for beginning to mid november - I think that will be right won't it?).
At three years old is she old enough to be hibernated?
Also can anyone recommend a good thermometer that has min and max setting on and alarm please, because I am planning on eventually putting her down in my outbuilding that is attached to the house where my guinea pig lives during the winter time.
I have the polysterene chest box now and am in the process of throwing together a inner box but have been looking at this link at the tortoise shop that shows a hibernation pack and it shows a outer box, do I need to make a outer box for my polystrene chest
to sit in?
Also sorry I am really going on already and its only august my tortoise is a hermann and is 11.5cm in lengh what weight should she be for me to safely be able to hibernate her.
My teenage kids think I am mad and have named me the tortoise woman and tell me she gets more attention than them.
She does get a lot ha ha ha but not as much as my teenage daughters
thanks for listening

Re: hibernation query
Posted: 21/08/2011 by tortoise7

Hi Rach
I started a thread for hibernation, because I thought we will all want to help each through, this was what David from York put, you will find it interesting. I do the fridge hibernation, and will explain what I do. Three is fine to hibernate, but you need to remember that at that age you will need to keep a close eye on temps as they are not as hardy as the adults. Anyway read the thread and fire away  any more questions.  I am the same as you, I have already started thinking about getting prepared, it helps to feel ready for it yourself.


David's Post
I am always guided by the animals' behaviour. I keep large, mature
spur-thighed, and for many years have been successful using boxes of soil. I
keep my torts outside from about 2 weeks after they wake (if weather suitable)
until they start to dig in, or cease their wanderings. They have a cloched
area, where they are lounging today, and several wooden shelters to choose from
for sleeping. I weigh the torts about every 2 weeks, so I have “reference
weights" for each of them. I will notice sometime in September/ October,
they become more sluggish and rarely eat. This is the critical time to watch
them and weigh them. The time will come when they stop feeding, and a few weeks
later begin to start digging in...This is when I bring them in and place each
in a 3 foot by 2 foot plastic stacker box of soil mixed with fibrous compost. I
used to use tea crates years ago. I keep them in good light, in a cool shed,
and bathe them, being careful to ensure they open their mouths, and I swish
them about to ensure mouth is rinsed and free from food matter. This sounds
drastic, but was recommended by an experienced keeper years ago when I had a
female wake up with stomatitis (mouth rot). She needed painful mouth scraping
and anti-biotics to cure her. Apparently left over food around the gum area had
gone rotten. I digress, but felt that was worth sharing!

So now torts are cool, not been feeding for 3-4 weeks and are free to wander
or dig as they wish in their soil boxes. The soil is just deeper than the shell
height. When ready, they dig, and are out of sight. I now transfer to plastic
boxes of soil about 20 inches by 15 inches, and bury totally. This box is
partially buried in the previous larger box and hibernation is under way. Both
inner and outer boxes are drilled with plenty of ventilation holesNow I have
months of weather watching, thermometer checking, and box moving. I have
electronic thermometers with alarms (bought on eBay last year...I reckon they
are worth having), which I set to 3 degrees Celsius. Below that, they emit a
high bleeping sound. Hard to hear, they are not really loud enough, but do
work. I also have garden max/min thermometers with each tortoise. Last winter I
had to bring the boxes into a porch/hallway to avoid the sharp temperatures.
Here I could really moderate and monitor the temperature. Last winter according
to my max/min readings, the temperature they were in ranged from 3- 8 degrees Celsius,
during that time of ice and snow. When in the shed I check twice a day if temperature
forecast looks worrying…Spring time is then awaited, when I hear the scraping of claw in plastic. When they rouse each tortoise is kept in the largwer box in shallow soil with a 60 watt reflector bulb as heat source to promote feeding. This has worked many years...and yes I do know a fridge might be easier, and I am open to persuasion. Click and drag me down to the editor I hope this is useful to someone out there. Do please challenge or add to this, then we all learn.

Regards, David nr York


Re: hibernation query
Posted: 22/08/2011 by bubbles

Thank you for the advise I will join your thread with more questions. I hadn't noticed it . Thanks again. Rach


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