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Hibernation Questions

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#1 Guest_robertsutton1978_*

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 06:29 PM

Hi All

I'm going to be hibernating my 3 year old tortoise this year for the first time.
I've been looking at the hibernation infomation on this site which is really helpful.
I've been out and bought a fridge ready but I've got a few questions I'm hoping somebody might be able to help with -
1/ When does a juvernile tortoise become an adult ? Is there a age or weight limit ?
2/ I was going to hibernate through Jan and Feb. 8 weeks in total. Is this correct ?
3/ After the wind down period, should the tortoise still reach the Jacksons chart value, or is this no longer applicable as the tortoise won't have eaten for a few weeks ? Is there an acceptable weight loss figure during the wind down period ?
4/ Is the wind down period only based on the tortoise age ? I'm wondering because I've been told my tortoise is large for his age. Should I increase the wind down period ?
He's 110mm long using the measurment method for the Jacksons ration and weighs around 307g.

Sorry for all the questions but I want to make sure I get his hibernation right.
Thanks for any advise

#2 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

Guest_Freddy McGavin_*
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Posted 25 September 2010 - 08:09 PM

Hi Robert,
I think it's great that you are hibernating your tort and I'm sure everything will work out just fine. Although I am no expert on 3 year old torts I will attempt to answer some of your questions:-
1. A tort usually reaches adulthood around 9 to 10 years old.
2.Your hibernation period of 8 weeks is correct and depending upon your torts average weight loss during hibernation (which you should check on from time to time) and all else being well, an additional 1- 2 weeks could be added. Jan-Feb would also be the correct months for hibernation.
3.It is usually better if your tort is slightly overweight before it is wound down as this will compensate for any weight lost during wind down.
4.The wind down period is used to make sure the torts stomach contents are finally emptied before hibernation, as if not, food can rot inside a tort during hibernation causing it harm. If your tort is indeed large for its age it would be no harm allowing another few days for wind down.
5. I've checked your tort against the Jackson ratio and he seems to be the correct length and weight although as you say is probably a little big for his age. If you could get his weight up to about 310 grammes or more that would be a good weight for an 8-10 week hibernation.
Anyway Robert, as I said this age group is not my speciality but I hope some of my answers have been of help. Hopefully, there will be others along shortly to offer more, helpful advice. Best of luck.
Kind Regards

#3 Guest_robertsutton1978_*

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 04:02 PM

Hi freddy
Thanks for the reply. It's good to no I'm on the right track.
With this being the first hibernation I want to make sure I do everything right.

#4 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 04:42 PM

Hi Robert,

I hibernated my 3 torts for the 1st time last winter, so although not very experienced this is what I found;

Hettie was 114cm and 340g in the beginning, she had 4 weeks wind down. During the windown she lost 14g but once in the fridge only lost a further 4g in the 8 weeks she had.
Bailey was 68g had 18 days wind down, lost 4g during this time and a further 4g in the fridge (8 weeks)
Boo started at 60g had 18 days wind down, lost 2g during this time and nothing whilst in the fridge for 8 weeks.

I would definately go by size and weight rather than age. It is a worrying time for all of us but keep in touch and we can all worry together!

I am aiming to get my little guys into the fridge around 20th December, last year they had 8 weeks as it was their 1st hibernation and they all got up on valentines day! :wub: This year if all is going well and not much weight is lost I shall think about giving Hettie a week or two longer, maybe a week for the little guys, but I shall see how it goes.

Paula x

#5 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:05 PM

Hi Robert! As you know every tortoise is different but I would say a 3 year old is a juvenile although in your case quite a large one. Becoming adult is sexual maturity and I think your tort is a few years away from that.

I agree that Jan and Feb are good months to hibernate a tortoise for.

Your question number 3 about the Jackson Ratio and when to apply it is the $64,000 question and there are many answers. If you wind down the tortoise for several weeks and then decide that his weight is below what you feel happy with then you can always pull out of the hibernation plan. Weight loss during wind down should not be very much at all if it is just the weight of undigested food. There can be a risk of the tortoise starting to use reserves if we wind down for too long or at too high a temperature. I think if the tortoise has lost 10% during the wind down then this is too much.

To complicate matters some tortoises will start to loose weight before we even start the wind down. Mine seem to have a kind of peak in July after which some weight is lost even though the tortoise is still eating.

Sorry I may not be helping you here! But these are not easy questions.

Any tortoise which is overweight on the JR might just have a lot of water on board. As I understand it, they don't store fat the way mammals do. My view is that at this stage I am letting the tortoises eat well and if they have the apetite to eat enough to still be gaining wieght then this is fine.

Regarding length of hibernation, I think 8 weeks is a minimum that is worth doing. Keep a close eye on weight during hibernation and be prepared to change your plans. If there is no weight loss then you might decide to contnue the hibernation a little longer.


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