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First time outside all winter

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#1 Guest_Martin Prior_*

Guest_Martin Prior_*
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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:24 AM


After reading through a lot of the posts and two tortoise books, I would be lying if I said I wasn't still confused on the best ways to go about letting my two 5 year old hopefully hibernate this winter. They were imported from Slovenia in 2006 and until this year were kept indoors and have never hibernated. So here goes....

What I thought I'd do rather than ask what is best, is list my intentions. Then if anyone see's any serious risks then please shout. The book I took most inspiration from was Brian Pursalls 'Mediterranean Tortoises' where a very natural and non boxed method is recomended. In fact, this book sugests you can even leave them to burry themselves in your garden with no interferance at all??

My plan:
Currently they reside in an insulated house outside, I open up a door everymorning and provide food and water outside and they come out provided it's not raining to eat and bask if it's sunny. Indoors I'm about to provide them with some hay to bed in, prior to now they haven't had any bedding. There is no heating source in the house or light unless I open the door.

I do not plan to change this routine.

I plan to monitor their eating habbits, and if I do notice they stop coming out then I check them each day by lifting the lid of their house. If they bury themselves in the hay but look healthy and go into hibernation then my plan would be to close and insluate the door, and keep monitoring them twice a week. When they do wake I'll provide them with a bath, water and carb rich diet.

How does this sound, does anyone do anything very similar who can re-assure me this is safe for the tortoises?


#2 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 01:07 AM

Hi Martin,
Nice to hear from you again.With regard to hibernation and using the natural method i.e burying outdoors. This is often used by keepers in milder parts of England were the winters are not as cold but there is still a risk to your tort particularly if the weather becomes harsher. It would be preferable to let them dig into the soil of a greenhouse or shed as this would afford them greater protection from the outside elements, again all of this would depend on the winter climate in your region and of course the kind of outhouses, if any, you have.
Personally, I use what's called the box method with my adult tort. I put topsoil into a smaller box ( a single box for each individual tort), place her in it and then put this into a larger and sturdier outer box stuffed with plenty of shredded paper and lined with sheets of tin foil for insulation. I then put the larger box or crate into my shed and leave it there checking on it periodically over the winter months to make sure that temps don't fall consistently below 0 degrees or freezing point as this can cause permanent physical damage to a tort.
Other keepers use the fridge method the details of which you will find if you click on the hibernation link on the top of the screen.
As you can see there are 3 methods of hibernating a tort- Natural, Box and Fridge but they all require a prior starvation/wind down time and subsequent hibernation period that depends on the age of your tort. Again details on this can be found by clicking on the hibernation link above. In the end Martin,you will have to decide which method suits your particular circumstances. I certainly hope I haven't confused you further with all this information. But hopefully by reading it, it will help you make an informed decision.In the meantime, there will be others along soon to offer more, helpful advice. Best of luck Martin.
Kind Regards
P.S I would also avoid using hay as this can contain mold spores which can be harmful to torts. Topsoil substrate would be more suitable.

#3 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 09:22 AM

Hmmm I don't know Martin... hello again! :D
I have little experience of hibernation, only one under my belt. :rolleyes:
I agree with Freddy about the hay, and would not use it myself.The other thing I wonder about is hydration. I successfully used the no food, gradually reduce heat and light, pop them in the fridge routine. What stands out to me about your plan is that there is no mention of keeping torty hydrated? Although in wind down as I did it there is no food, water was always available and all were bathed at regular intervals.
Also you would definately need something for torty to bury into.
As I say, just a thought, I am no expert.

Paula x

#4 Guest_Martin Prior_*

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:59 PM

Thanks guys, don't worry about hydration, they have a water bowl which is topped up daily and cleaned regualry.

Point noted on Hay, the books also sugested straw or shredded newspapper, I just wanted to give themsomthing to bury into and to act as insulation from the cold (in addition to the insulated shed). I might look at introducing some soil inside the shed so they can bury naturaly as you mention.

Lots to think about and good to have a few 'backup' ideas from your experiences.

Thanks again, will keep you posted how it goes. Before i get to excited I'm going to give them a good bath and check them on the Jackson scale so I know they are health and ready whatever method we use in the end.


#5 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 02:19 PM

I hibernate my tortoises in the soil of my greenhouse over the Winter. They bury themselves when its time for them. They all go down at different times.
One thing is very important, and thats they dont eat for at least four weeks if adult, and lesser time if they are small tortoises.
I let my tortoises come out to graze, but I dont actually feed them any extras from around October onwards. This way I know they are nearly empty, so dont worry if they suddenly go down.
You have to follow the same instruction of windown for anyway you hibernate. Fridge, box or natural.
I have had some tortoises bury down outside over the Winter. I knew where they were, and if we had had the Winter we have just had I would have dug them up and boxed them. As frost/freezing temps can do a lot of damage to tortoises.

#6 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 04:30 PM

Hi Sandy, although I am going to use the fridge method this year (it is their first time) I am going to keep the heating on minimum in their outdoor enclosure so I can monitor external / internal temps.

My question really is - how deep is your soil in the greenhouse?

Sorry to jump in on this thread!


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