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Hibernation Pit


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#1 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:46 PM

I just read a post that mentioned a hibernation pit and it got me wondering.... :blink:

If trying to provide a natural hibernation environment how deep would 'the pit' need to be?
Would it depend on the soil type?
Would you do this within a protected area such as a greenhouse?
Once the little guys have dug down would you need to cover the top with anything to offer additional protection? I am thinking of outside right now with the snow and heavy frosts.
Would this type of hibernation only be suitable for the more experienced keepers to manage? What are the difficulties involved in this method?

Gawd!! Tis just as well I don't think too often!! :wacko:

Paula x

#2 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:50 PM

You would need to dig it as deep as would not be likely to freeze - I did have the stats on this once but not sure where I saw it to be honest.

#3 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:55 PM

Here are some graphs - no time to simplify it at the moment but it might give an idea of why torts move so much in hibernation lol
http://soilphysics.okstate.edu/software/So...re/document.pdf

#4 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 10:17 PM

LOL!! :D Thankyou Sue for taking the time to provide this information..... but I have to confess... It is beyond me!! :blink:
I was just on the verge of getting to grips with relative humidity... but this could take quite some time!!

Paula x

#5 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 10:18 PM

WOW! Thats gone right over my head!!!!! lol!!!!

I'm planning on doing a 'pit' in my new enclosure, I was gonna get the builder to dig a trench a couple of foot down, put a layer of stones or cement on the bottom and sides, cover with topsoil. Then he's going to build a brick built house (6ft x 4ft ish) out of breeze blocks, render the outside, insulate the inside then plaster inside. I will have the UV & heat lamps in there plus also some 'greenhouse' type heaters as well. He's also going to put big windows on the side that faces out over the enclosure so that they will get additional heat from the sun on sunny days (I'm kind of combining a greenhouse & shed type idea!)...this is my plan anyway!

Oh and inside I will also put more soil above ground level as such as well as beech leaves or simular for added insulation.

#6 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 10:50 PM

In my greenhouses, the tortoises just dig themselves in. I do have a greenhouse heater that comes on at a frost setting.

But I have known someone who dug a pit, lined it with slabs/wood (so they dont fall on the torts of course) then put a layer of soil down so they can dig into it. Then put another slab on top. This was under a shed. But could be done in a greenhouse. Or anywhere, where there is protection over the top of it.
Thinking about it you could use a dustbin or the like in the ground and cover with something. Shed, greenhouseor coldframe.

#7 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 11:03 PM

LOL - the info I used to have, mentioned what the likely temps would be at a certain depth compared with ground temps and what depth they needed to dig to, to maintain a steady 5 degrees. Damned if I can remember though - I seem to think it was a couple of feet or so, but don't quote me on that whatever you do <g>

#8 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 11:05 PM

Don't the BCG suggest dustbin hibernation?

#9 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 08:21 AM

I have no idea what the BCG recommend on hibernation, I just know if they have the extra protection of plastic around them, it has to help keep the temps/frost at bay. This would also last, where as wood, would eventually rot away.
I think that if they have protection on top of whatever is used to hibernate them in the ground, they dont have to go as deep as two or three feet to be safe. As the top layer whatever it is will do a lot of the protecting from frosts and severe weather. But it could depend on where you live. Living in Kent I am reasonably sure its safe, I cant speak for other areas.


#10 Guest_Lin_*

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 11:37 AM

I would hesitate to give the local rats a source of winter food, which unless it is totally enclosed could happen..

#11 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 12:58 PM

That's the thing, it HAS to be secure to beon the safe side. I have rat killers in the garage all winter for this reason. I hate it but have to protect my torts.

#12 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 02:52 PM

I haven't tried this method but I share Paula's interest in it. If a plastic container was buried in the ground it should be possible to use steel mesh around the container as well to keep out the dreaded rats. I imagine this would have to be top and bottom and perhaps for good measure all around the plastic container as well.

When I set up my coldframe I dug a hole and buried steel mesh to make a floor and sides before I then added in a pile of hardcore (drainange) and a light stony soil on top of that till I was up to 'ground level'. This was time consuming to say the least, but once in place its always there.

This very cold weather has set me thinking about how deep the tortoise might need to go to get to that place where it is a steady 5C. Its the impossibility of me managing the temperature that puts me off this method a bit. (Plus the rats)

#13 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 03:17 PM

Rats are buggers Jonathan, they will get thorugh most things if they really want to. The first sign I had here was a pile of gravel at the side of my fence. I thought it was odd as my dogs are softies and not into digging gravel. I filled it in and they just redug the hole. Another very large pile of soil appeared at the side of the shed. They could not get in as the floor is tiled. I thought this had to be the dog as it was so large. Anyway went down to the local farm suppliers and they assured me it was a rat from the photos I had taken. Three days later it stopped. They told me that it would get through anything other than metal or solid concrete. Each year since, I have put bait out for them and twice it has been taken.

#14 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:19 PM

I saw this in another thread - so glad it is being covered seperately. I was thinking of putting a pit in under my coldframe next spring, although I have a lot of tree roots so when it comes to it, it may not be feasible. I had seen somewhere that dustbins had been used but thought these would have been strong enough to stop rats - if not would a galvanised tub get too cold?

#15 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:24 PM

With regards to this, I will go out and bury a spare min-max thermometer in the garden today - I will let you know how deep, what the temps are top and bottom are over the next few days - easier than the scientific way!

Pat


#16 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:43 PM

Just started it at 9" - will give it a couple of days min/max and then go down further.

#17 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:50 PM

From what I remember I think you have to go down a couple of feet Pat. It will be interesting to know your findings though ;)

#18 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 04:52 PM

I could only get the post down to 9" - will get a windbreaker post and hammer out of the garage tomorrow and go down further. At 9" it is only 2 degrees warmer than ground temp so will try to get 2ft tomorrow.

Pat

#19 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 05:02 PM

Brilliant, do let us know your findings.

#20 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 03:06 PM

Managed to get it down to 2ft this morning - I am not sure how practical it would be in my garden to dig a pit 2ft deep because of tree roots. style_emoticons/default/unsure.gif

What would be interesting is if I build a thermal block raised pit - half in/half out which would then be built up to make a raised area in their part of the garden (which I was going to do anyway but not with the breeze block pit which could be insulated) with the cold frame on top.

I will speak to my brother who is a builder to see what he thinks. I am presuming that the warmth comes from being underground so not sure about raised area - dont think I could afford underground heating! :rolleyes:

Anyway will let you know early temps later.

Pat




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