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Hibernation Pit

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#21 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 05:11 PM

Update on temps

Outside temp today 0.6 - at 2ft dept 4.9 so would need to be deeper for when below zero or insulated in some way (or with a cold frame as some have suggested) I think - will keep you updated over 2-3 days then see if I can get deeper

#22 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 05:18 PM

Hi Pat

The thermal block sounds interesting:0)
At least you could insulate it to the extreme, which should keep most of our coldest temps away from the tortoises.
It might depend on where you live in the UK as to how much it would work.

#23 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:55 PM

Hi Sandy

Yes I agree, and it would be tested over a couple of years before I would trust it - but it would be interesting to see how it would work. I live in Shropshire and although it is quite sheltered snow wise, we do get some severe dips in temperatures. Cost is going to play another factor in this - a 99 fridge will probably be much cheaper - would be interesting to hear from people whose torts do bury themselves naturally.


#24 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 07:04 PM

:laugh: :D The things we do.....

Well done Pat!! It has been snowing here today, hats off to a fellow torty lover that is prepared to go that extra mile.... or should I say 9 inches!!

Look forward to hearing your results.

Paula x

#25 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 07:30 PM

9" is nothing to be sniffed at! he he

#26 Guest_markf_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 07:40 PM

good thinking pat, will look forward to yur results.

Going back to the rats. Never mind hibernating, what about keeping them outside in the warmer weather, arent rats a worry then also.???

#27 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 07:48 PM

Yes that is the other consideration - I was going to line the outdoor pen with some wire mesh - but stronger than chicken wire. It is a section at the bottom of my garden so I cant concrete or slab it unfortunately. Will take a trip to the builders merchants in the spring to see what they do. I wondered if I could make my pit to fit under a small cold frame which would make it secure from the top - just need to think about the thermal breeze block idea.

Any thoughts?


#28 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 08:28 PM

Hi Pat

My tortoises bury down naturally in my greenhouses. They are both set on a footing and about four bricks high wall. I have been letting my torts dig down now for the last eight years. And found they come up in their own time, and are generally a lot quicker to get going.

#29 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 08:35 PM

So they are not underground - just under built up ground? Do you have a frost stat and heater in the greenhouse?


#30 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:19 PM

Rats are always there, but tend to be more of a nuisance in winter when food is in short supply. They frequent gardens where people feed birds and where there are cosy compost heaps to sleep under. Obviously its a good idea to make outdoor hide areas rat proof at all times. During the day it's unusual to see rats as they are predominantly nocturnal.

#31 Guest_Lin_*

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 08:32 AM

I have rigid small-mesh a few inches deep in the outdoor pen to keep out the rats and the whole enclosure is of rigid mesh. It's a bit like a bird aviary that you can walk in. We have rats in the woods behind us which occasionally venture into the garden. Like spiders, I don't mind them being there as long as they stay out of my space.
My son was working on a helicopter back from Afganistan last week and saw a camel-back spider which reared on its back legs and tried to attack a robin so he quickly stamped on it (the spider, not the robin). :ohmy:

#32 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 09:42 AM

Well Pat they are underground but in the greenhouse. The greenhouses have the footing and wall for the frame to sit on. The soil in it is the ground, I have not put special soil or anything in there.
Its just the garden soil. And yes I have a greenhouse heater in both set to come on the frost setting or just above. I have a remote thermometer in both, with the second reader in the house, so I can see the temps in the greenhouse.
The tortoises will stay down even on the sunniest day during Jan and Feb (when we have them:0) )
The soil temperature has to rise before they start coming up.

#33 Guest_markf_*

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 08:02 PM

so sandy do you shut the tortoises in an enclosure at night. I think a set up similar to yours will be ideal for my garden.

Do you just let them wonder into the coldframe, or do you lock them into something for safety? Im thinking more of your little ones!

#34 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:18 PM

What an interesting thread!!!

Pat, keep us updated on temps please...I'm looking at having a pit built in the spring

#35 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:49 PM

Overnight temps dropped to min of 0 - minimum at 2ft down was 2.9 so it would need to be deeper in my garden to give them more depth for when it drops to below freezing. I am definitely going to look at the built up breeze block and cold frame idea.

I will give it a couple of days for the snow to thaw a little then go down further. Like I said it would be impractical in most gardens to dig a 3ft or more pit in a sheltered / established plot, so building up might be a better option.

If there is anyone who has a hibernation pit already under a cold frame or greenhouse, would you be able to give us an idea of the difference in outside / inside / underground please as a comparison?

Thanks Pat

#36 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:38 PM

Mark F

I always check where my tortoises are when they are out in the garden. The smaller ones I like to see in their coldframes, usually under a curved roof tile. They are not actually locked in. Especially in the early Spring and late Autumn. During the Summer months I dont worry to much if they are not in the coldframe, but I do like to make sure they are hidden under a curved tile or smaller house in the outside part of their enclosure.
Adults come and go as they please in my garden, they have two greenhouses to choose from. I also check where they are once dusk comes. Usually they are in the GH or tucked under a tile or somewhere safe.

Very small torts one or two years old, have an enclosure that is covered by a framed mesh of wire on one half and the coldframe on the other half. So no predators can get in at all.

#37 Guest_markf_*

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 07:14 PM

yes that is something i think i will make. The only real worry is rodents. I know we have mice in the garden , but i dont know about rats.

At the moment when we go away, (which we quite often do in the summer at weekends in our camper van), we let our friends have the tortoises. I just dropped them round still in thier home! And the same when we go on holiday.
I guess when they settle outside we would leave them outside?? Mind you with the threat of summer storms etc i would rather them be indoors i think, if im not around...

#38 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:22 PM

Well if needs be, I can always block the holes allowing my tortoises to roam, whether in the garden, or in the coldframes my smaller ones are in. Mine stay out through rain too:0) they actually love to have rain sometimes. Its great to see them drink from puddles and thick leaves, oh so natural.
The only time mine come in is if its been wet and cold for about four days, then they can come in and have a warm up:0)

If I go away, a neighbour looks after mine, coming in to feed and water. If they are not available my son will stay here to look after them.
I just think I have done all thats possible to make my tortoises as safe as I can, that still allows them to lead a free life. You cant guard against everything. Just do your best.

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