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first time hibernation

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#1 Guest_joanne5848_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 07:34 PM

Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I have posted anything and I would like some advice concerning hibernation. I planned on hibernating Toby last year but chickened out as I couldn't regulate the fridge temp. Would you say this method is best to do as I would like to hibernate him this year? Can anyone give me some help about the best way to go about hibernating my little tort for the first time, he is three years old?

thanks Joanne

#2 Guest_lilacgeorge_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:06 PM

Hi Jo,

I use the fridge method and feel that with our weather being as unreliable as it is its probably the saftest.

For a 3yr old I would say to try and aim for a 12 week min hibernation. I'm aiming for 16 weeks for my 3, 7 amd 9 yr olds, 12 weeks for Teefa and poor little Ruby 8 weeks min. (they are July & Sept 07 hatchlings)

I'm doing a 4 week wind down for mine aiming to have the last week as no food or lights, then move into a cooler room for a couple of days before placing them in the fridge. This is what I did last year (for the older 3) and it worked well.

What type of fridge is it? I found the small chiller one to be unreliable - but then mine was second hand - so last year I went out and bought a larder fridge especially for the torts!!! (It doubles up as a booze fridge during the summer months!!!!)

To regulate the temps, put bottles in there - fill them with water, here's a photo of my fridge from last year...

#3 Guest_victor22_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:24 PM

Dawn, in your third paragraph did you mean no food or light for the last week, or no heat or light. I thought they had to starve for the whole 4 weeks, but there again, I'm probably wrong.

#4 Guest_lilacgeorge_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:46 PM

Hi Lyn,

Oops! Sorry.... yeah, this is what I do...

Week 1, reduce lights (I've gradually been doing this already)to 4 or 5 hours a day and feed every other day just a small amount (again I've gradually been reducing it over the last week or two anyway) Bath every other days.

Week 2, stop food,reduce lights to a couple of hours a day, bath every other day

Week 3, keep torts just at room temp (approx 21 degrees), no lights, no food, bath every day

Week 4, same as above, reducing room temp gradually

at end of week 4 (or when I'm sure they have cleared out thier systems - no evidence of poo's for at least a week or two - I put them into their box that they will go into the fridge in and move them into my lean-to where the temp is around 10 degrees at that time of year. I record thier weights and then place them into the fridge - I don't bath them at this point.

I weigh them weekly, first thing in the morning before the heating comes on (and yes its blooming cold!!!), check they haven't wee'd and put them back in the fridge to sleep.

I don't go by the jackson ratio for mine as all torts differ in shape and size. Instead I use the following method;

Weight in grams divide by the length 3 times in centimetres

eg: Weight 82 grams, Length 7.5cms

82 divide 7.5 divide 7.5 divide 7.5 = 0.19

Then I check it against this chart;

< 0.16 = underweight - do not hibernate
0.16 - 0.18 - Light for hibernation - proceed with care
0.19 - 0.23 - Good weight for hibernation
> 0.23 - overweight - proceed with care

Although I had one (Tallulah) who was underweight (O.14) and I still hibernated but kept a very close eye on her - it was a 'do or die' situation.

My advice is go with your instinct - if you don't feel happy hibernationg your tort don't do it. But if your tort is fit and well then there is no reason not to! It is scarey at first but in the long run it is good for them and they will benifit from it ;-)

(sorry for rabbiting on....bet you wished you never asked!!! LOL!!!)

#5 Guest_robink_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 09:02 PM

Dawn, sorry another question. In the box in the picture what have you put in as the bedding please.

#6 Guest_lilacgeorge_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 09:31 PM

I use ambiouse - yeah I know, lots of tort owners now slate the stuff...but I bought it cos the very same were praising it a few months before!!!! Can't win! Ah well, I'm still gonna use it, I've not had any probs (touch wood....)

#7 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 09:44 PM

Hi Dawn,
what is the now prefered bedding others are using? Just curious!:)

Paula x

#8 Guest_lilacgeorge_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 10:11 PM

I don't know really, I think most are using sand/soil mix but I know quite a few are continuing with ambiouse. There's a risk with anything you use. I've read about people having probs with the sand/soil mix. All I know is when I had sand/soil mine didn't bury yet they seem to in the ambiouse. Aside from that, because it was once the 'in' thing to use I bought a big bale of it and I'll be buggered if I'm was wasting it!!!! LOL!!!!!

#9 Guest_victor22_*

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 10:27 PM

Mine love burrowing in the aubiose, so I'm using it still, although I do see where the problems could lie. If I see a piece a bit near the eye, I bathe it and it washes out. They also say it can cause problems in the digestive system as it's sharp.
(It makes a lovely base bedding under the guinea pigs' hay, Kay, and the gpigs can go an extra day or two without being changed. Just replace the hay.)

#10 Guest_joanne5848_*

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 10:43 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 28-10-08 AT 11:09 PM (GMT)]Hi Dawn,

this has been really helpful thankyou. Just wondered what temp the fridge needs to be again, is it about 5 degrees? Also you mentioned that hibernating them does them the world of good. Can I just ask what the benefits of this are, as I have recently been speaking to someone who owns torts and he told me that they don't actually need to hibernate and didn't agree with the fridge method.

thanks Joanne

#11 Guest_lorrylou_*

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 11:42 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 28-10-08 AT 11:43 PM (GMT)]Hi Joanne there is a lot of discussion about hibernation. A few people just think its a hazard the animal does not have any need for if you are willing to keep it warm and brightly lit with UV etc all winter. But most people who are keen on Hermanns see hibernatoin as being part of the natural cycle and they should be allowed to do it.

Some people are quite sure that hibernation helps to prevent pyramiding of the shell because the tortoise has a rest from growing. Torts kept in captivity grow a lot quicker than the wild ones and this is not always a good thing. And not hibernating makes this worse.

Personally I think that a tortoise kept up all winter on a tortoise table must get bored. There's not much to do and nowhere to go. The basics of life are all provided but the animal has precious little choice about anything; it's an existence. This is a personal view but its one of the reasons why I do hibenate tortoises that are fit and well and at a good weight. Ozric

#12 Guest_victor22_*

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 01:08 PM

You asked about fridge temps. Mine stays at about 6-7. As long as it's stable, that's the main thing. It shouldn't go down to 2%, or above 10. If it does vary more than 2 or 3 degrees, (which is why you need to be monitering it now)I wouldn't use it.

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