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Age for natural hibernation?


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#1 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 04:51 PM

Hi All,

I know that a few of you allow your torts to dig themselves in for the winter within a coldframe or greenhouse and I wondered at what age did you let them do this from?

My 2 hermanns will be 18 months by next winter and I am starting to plan my outdoor enclosure and was going to build a pit under my coldframe. But if it was going to be another couple of years before they would be old enough, I wont as I am planning on moving (hopefully)

Thanks Pat x

#2 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 07:10 PM

Mine are only allowed to go down in my greenhouses. As I have heaters in them to come on if the temps drop below 5c. I dont think outside without any extra form of heat is a good idea. Especially with the Winter we have just had. In previous years, I wouldnt have worried to much. But I would with the temps we have had. And I live in Kent, where temps are generally a lot warmer than others.

#3 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 07:21 PM

Hi Sandy

Do your heaters heat the air or the ground? Was going to put heating in the coldframe and wondered which would be best? The pit is being made out of thermal blocks and insulation which will hopefully keep the heat in and the vermin out and around 3ft deep.

I think the problem with using a cold frame is the head height so was going to have one made (my son owes me a favour) which will be okay for end of day and early morning boost.

Thanks Pat x

#4 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:10 PM

Are well if you are going to put heat in there that will certainly help. And you can raise a glass coldframe off the ground with brieze blocks or bricks. To a height where you can put a lamp or the like in.
My heaters, heat the air, just to keep the frost off.
I do actually let my box turtles hibernate outside. I dug a large hole, put in a plastic tub and refilled with the soil. I made holes in the bottom for drainage. I got panicky with the really cold weather and dug them up this year. When the weather was really bad. To my surprise the ground around them was not freezing as I thought it would be. So after the worst weather went, I buried them again in their enclosure. These have a coldframe over them, with no extra heat.

#5 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:22 PM

Hi Pat,

Weren't you taking measurements of underground soil temps a while ago? Did you get any results? I hope I haven't missed your post? :blush:

Paula x

#6 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 06:30 PM

Hi Paula

Yes, I got to about 2 ft down and it was around 2.5 - 3 degrees c warmer than at ground level. That however was out in the open without any coldframe or greenhouse over it. I did not think it would be practical for many of us to have to dig down for a pit more than 2ft. What I am building however, which will hopefully be okay is a pit part buried (by about 8") underground and built up by about another 2ft out of thermal breeze blocks to form a hill which will have a coldframe ontop. All will be encased in wire and top soil. Also looking at a soil warmer in the pit which is thermostatically controlled to come on and heat the soil from below if it falls below about 3 degrees. Waiting for spec from a supplier at the moment to make sure it will work. Once built I will check all the temps regularly before letting them stay out for the winter.

Estimate it will cost me about £300-500 once topsoil and planting put in. (keeping that one quiet from OH!) :rolleyes: But if it means that it is more natural for them to regulate themselves than I think it will be worth it (most like the heating system and UV remitting cold frame I can take with me when I move).

Is 18months old too young to hibernate naturally or would you wait an extra year?

Pat x

#7 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 08:11 PM

They would hibernate naturally in the wild from their first year. You will probably find if left outside they will sort themselves out when they are ready - if they don't then you know you're going to have to intervene and hibernate them 'artificially'

#8 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 08:13 PM

PS make sure you post pictures of your new set up outdoors! Cant wait to see them ;) My builder is hopefully coming round Friday to go over design and price with me - he's really excited - keeps saying 'I've never built a tortoise house before...' lol!!!

#9 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 08:53 PM

I'm not sure Pat! :wacko:

Personally I am happier with my littlies in the fridge where I can monitor them and intervene if neccessary.

I suppose it would depend on the testing of your new set up and the proven results. From what you are suggesting it isn't allowing them to hibernate naturally as you are still controlling the conditions so once proven sounds ideal.

If it were me I'd have one more year in the fridge while you test the new system just to be sure.

Awww they're no trouble!! :wub: :rolleyes:

Paula x

#10 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 06:08 PM

Hi Paula

I will for the first year of testing! With all of these new enclosures we could do with a sticky just for pictures no text (unless I am missing it somewhere!)

Pat x

#11 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 06:57 PM

All my tortoises that were hibernating in my greenhouses are now up. All eating except the three I got up yesterday and today. Being adults they take longer to get going. All the others are eating well, and back out in the GH today.
I am off to France for 17 days and wanted them up before I went, so my husband only has to feed and water while I am away.


#12 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 07:46 PM

We have some awful weather forecast here this weekend. Is it difficult to keep your guys warm enough in the greenhouse this time of year?

Happy holidays by the way!! :D

Paula x

#13 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 07:57 PM

Well I hope they will be kept warm enough:0) I do live in the South East which does help.




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