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Help! Panicky new owner


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#1 Guest_Redjenner_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:12 PM

Hi, I have very recently (last week) been given a lovely 5 year old Hermann named Rocky. He is 10cm long and weighs 240g.

He has according to his previous owners hibernated succefully before. They were still feeding him when they gave him to me but he wasn't eating very much. I only gave him a little of the watercress the day after I got him, as everything I've read says in order to hibernate he needs to have stopped 4-6 weeks previously. He is very inactive and seemingly winding down to hibernation.

I am scared about my lack of experience, and someone has now told me that his shell is quite bumpy which means he could be undernourished.

If anyone can help with information or advice on where to go from here I would greatfully appreciate it.

My current questions include:
Is he undernourished?
Is he too small for his age?
How long should he bathe for?
If he is already so inactive should I box him up now?
How do I stop panicking?

Redjenner



#2 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:07 PM

QUOTE (Redjenner @ Oct 18 2010, 04:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi, I have very recently (last week) been given a lovely 5 year old Hermann named Rocky. He is 10cm long and weighs 240g.

He has according to his previous owners hibernated succefully before. They were still feeding him when they gave him to me but he wasn't eating very much. I only gave him a little of the watercress the day after I got him, as everything I've read says in order to hibernate he needs to have stopped 4-6 weeks previously. He is very inactive and seemingly winding down to hibernation.

I am scared about my lack of experience, and someone has now told me that his shell is quite bumpy which means he could be undernourished.

If anyone can help with information or advice on where to go from here I would greatfully appreciate it.

My current questions include:
Is he undernourished?
Is he too small for his age?
How long should he bathe for?
If he is already so inactive should I box him up now?
How do I stop panicking?

Redjenner

Hi There and welcome to the forum,
Also congratulations on your new acquisition 'Rocky' the hermanns tortoise. Although I am no expert on tortoises I will attempt to answer some of your questions:-
1.According to the Jackson Ratio (see above) which is a hibernation guide 'Rocky' is the correct weight for his size. He is certainly not undernourished but may have developed a lumpy shell due to overfeeding, improper lighting or a number of other reasons when he was a developing youngster.
2.There is no age specific size for a tort as they come in all shapes and sizes. Suffice to say that Rocky is a good weight for his size.
3. A 5 year old Hermanns doesn't have to be bathed as much as a hatchling so I think once a week for 20 mins should be fine. It is also important that a shallow dish of clean water always be available for Rocky to drink.
4. If your tort hasn't eaten in a few weeks and has been inactive for at least a week it is an indication that he is ready for hibernation.
5. If this is indeed the case, I would start to box him up in topsoil with some dry leaves and place him in a cool,quiet and dry location were temps reach no less than 0 degrees and no more than 9 degrees. Also make sure there are air-holes in the box for ventilation.
It is important that the hibernation area is secure and free from rats and mice and that the hibernation box is rodent proof.
6. I would estimate the hibernation length for your tort to be 16 weeks or just under 4 months(see hibernation link above) so If you hibernate him in the next week or 2 you should be taking him out around Mid-February.
Finally, try not to worry. You are doing the right thing in hibernating your tort as it provides huge benefits for them and is the most natural thing in the world. Your tort is a good weight and is healthy so there should be no problems. For now I wish you the best of luck and feel sure everything will work out fine for Rocky come spring. Hopefully, there will be others along shortly to offer more, helpful advice. Best of luck.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#3 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:14 PM



Hi there,

Welcome to the forum. biggrin.gif

Congratulations on your new arrival. wub.gif

If this were me, that I was new to tortoise keeping at this time of year, I would be inclined to keep the little fella up and over winter him.

I DO believe in hibernation, but in this instance I think I would get to know the little chap better first.

Where did you get him from? Did his previous owner know how to take care of him? If he has a bumpy shell it sounds like he has been lacking in some experienced care. Has he had a check up with a vet? Is he worm free? Is he well?
These are all questions you need to know the answer to before deciding to hibernate. A poorly tort may not survive hibernation. sad.gif

How are you keeping him? Does he have UV and basking lights? How long do you keep them on for? What temperature is it under his lamp? We will be happy to help you make sure you are giving him everything he needs. smile.gif

My tortoises are still bathed most days. Littlies will soon dehydrate under heatlamps. They are stood in lukewarm water for 10-20 minutes. I use old icecream tubs and change the water if they poo or if it gets cold.

This also helps keep the enclosure clean as they do tend to use it as a loo! wacko.gif

Any questions ask away, we are happy to help.

Paula x
Panicking is completely normal for a new torty owner! I still do it most days! laugh.gif
Keeping him hydrated is more important than him eating in the short term.

#4 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:40 PM

Hi There,
Personally, I think it would be wrong to keep this tortoise out of hibernation. As he has been hibernated before. But ultimately it's your decision. Best of luck wink.gif
Kind Regards
Freddy biggrin.gif

#5 Guest_Redjenner_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 06:01 PM

Thank you so much Freddy and Paula for replying so quickly.

After reading through the site and looking at some of the photos I feel a little calmer about Rocky and his care and am formulating a plan.

He is currently in the run his previous owners gave to me, by the window in the garage. It has topsoil in and hay in the 'bedroom' area. I have a min max thermometer reading 8 min and 16 max currently so this could be why he is inactive, should I have the run outside during the day or a heating lamp if he is due to hibernate?

I did think that perhaps off over wintering him so I could learn more about him but would like to hiberate if possible as he already seems quite close.

We are getting an outside enclosure ready for when he comes out of hibernation as we didn't have time to do so before he arrived. His previous owners where a young family who due to moving house were unable to keep him, the grand parents contacted the petting farm where I work to see if they could home him they couldn't but I was very interested, the rest is history! smile.gif

Rocky is booked into the vets for a check up on Friday so that will hopefully give good results and provide a little more reassurance.

Thanks again
Redjenner (& Rocky)

p.s - I'll post a photo as soon as I figure out how!

#6 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 06:17 PM



Hi Redjenner and Rocky.

Just shows how our opinions differ. biggrin.gif I must point out that I have only had my little guys a few years, and that what I suggested was what I would do personally.
Rocky is inactive due to low temperature. He needs to be able to bask at 32C for all his little bodily functions to work properly. He needs to be able to escape this heat and thermoregulate, the cool end of his table should be around 20C.
He needs heat and UV for 12-14 hours per day. Mine live outside in a heated shed with tubular heaters set to 14C at night time.
If you decide to hibernate you will be wanting to get him to sleep through the coldest of winter when heat and food are more scarce. Last year my littlies had 8 weeks in the fridge. They went in just before xmas and got up on valentines day. wub.gif If you are planning similar then you need him to keep active for a little while yet.
A visit to the vet is ideal, he will be able to answer lots of questions, when I go I go armed with a list! biggrin.gif

Paula x

#7 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 07:18 PM

Hi Redjenner,
I think you have made the right decision. Rocky sounds like he is quite close to hibernating.Besides you mightn't have had a choice as the likelihood is that he would have shut down automatically, pre-programmed from previous hibernations. Personally, I think using temps of 32 degrees this time of year is a little unnatural. Heat/UV need to be reduced when preparing torts for hibernation. Best of luck
Kind Regards
Freddy

#8 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 07:19 PM

Hi

It does sound as though your temps are low, and that is why your tortoise is not active. As Paula has said, they need temps of around 32c+ under the light, and 25c at the other end. They dont need any extra heat at night. Unless they are kept where they can get affected by frost.
As you have only just got him, I would also suggest you keep him up, until at least he knows your way of keeping him, and you get to know him and his ways.
As he has hibernated before, this might be difficult, but you might be able to stretch it until a lot later in the year. You will just have to go by your tortoise:0)
The recommended amount of time for hibernation is eight weeks for a first time hibernation, and 12-weeks for adult tortoises. If you go to www.thetortoisehouse.com you can get some great instructions on what to do. They are the ones I follow for my tortoises.

#9 Guest_Redjenner_*

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 09:48 AM

Hi,

Rocky is happily basking under his new lamp and enjoyed a nice bath this morning. He's off to the vet on Friday and I am feeling a little less incompetent!

You have all been very helpful, and I expect I'll be online reading through as much of the forum as possible to gain as much info as possible.

Thanks again!
Redjenner & Rocky

#10 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 06:12 PM

I have hibernated my hermanns tort for the past 30 years and have always reduced heat/UV when preparing her for hibernation. Personally I think it's wrong to stop a tortoise from naturally winding itself down for hibernation by unnaturally forcing it to stay awake with artificial heat and light. Indeed, I can't understand why anyone would want to do this or use temps of 32 degrees at a time when a 5 year old tort should be preparing for hibernation. Temps in their natural habitats are a maximum of 22 degrees and a minimum of 14 degrees this time of year. This tortoise is supposed to go into hibernation in autumn not in the winter months. Also a 4 week difference in hibernation between a 1 year old tort (8 weeks) and an adult (12 weeks) as has been suggested doesn't sound right to me. A more accurate guide specifically for hermanns torts can be found by clicking on the hibernation link at the top of the screen. Darran has done a great job with his revised information tables and in my experience they are quite accurate and up to date. Perhaps somebody can answer some of these question as I am certainly one confused though very experienced tort keeper. Anyway,that's the end of my rant folks!!! ha !ha!!!Thank you for putting up with me!!! laugh.gif
Kind Regards
Freddy biggrin.gif

#11 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 10:42 PM

Hi Redjenner! As you can see we don't always 100% agree with each other here but that is completely fine and reflects us having different experiences and starting off in different places. Freddy has an older tortoise with very established habits and both tortoise and keeper are in perfect harmony!

I started out a lot more recently and have a more cautious approach to hibernation but I totally believe it is the best thing to do as long as we know where we are with the tortoise in question. I suspect we don't know much at all about how this tortoise has been kept and we don't know what kind of summer he has had.

I personally like to get to know the tortoise and to have looked after it for at least a few months before I would allow it to hibernate. That way I know exactly what he's eaten and how much heat and light etc he's had. But I am a terrible worrier.

Can I be really nosey and ask what heat and UV source you have for Rocky? If you decide to keep him up this year its really important to get this right because the last thing we want is a tortoise which is neither up nor down!!!

There are a lot of sources of information on the internet about keeping tortoises. Some of it is good and some of it is terrible. Between us on here we do have quite a bit of experience - and we are not tryin to sell anything!

Ozric





#12 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 04:56 PM


Our dear ranting laugh.gif friend. biggrin.gif rolleyes.gif

Those of us with little torts have to use artificial conditions often to keep out lil guys going. Even on those cold wet weeks in summer they need a bit of help with some heat.

So at this time of year when it is far too soon for the little chaps to go down for their big sleep they also need a bit of help. I have read the new and improved guide at the top of the page, and for my babies it suggests 8 weeks. With this in mind I can't possibly manage NOT to use artificial conditions. Without it they would be winding down now as you suggest, but should only have 8 weeks sleep... roughly December, so I would then have to use artificial conditions to keep the guys warm.
If I win the lottery I shall be off to sunnier climates where conditions are tort ideal, and they can do their thing. Until then I'm afraid until they are all grown up like BillieJo they will have to make do with a heatlamp.
The science of exactly how the torts bodies work is in very early stages, blimey I don't know enough about the fine tuning of myself let alone the little guys.... as she reaches for another biccie... biggrin.gif
Never mind thanks for putting up with me, wub.gif this is a forum, a place to discuss and debate, we are not scientists, none of us have all of the answers, we can just share our thoughts and suggestions, if we respect each others views may differ from our own that can't be a bad thing can it?

Paula x

#13 Guest_Redjenner_*

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 03:17 PM

Goodness, there is so much to learn out! Thank you all so much for your comments.

Rocky visited the vet on Friday and impressed him greatly, the main news from the visit is Rocky is a girl! She is infact 280grams and 100mm, and got a clean bill of health. So I was very relieved and was very proud showing her off as all of the staff there were keen to come and take a peak.

Rocky in deed seems to be winding herself down, she stays in her bedroom buried in the soil under some straw and has not come out to bask over the weekend. She has a 100w heat lamp and a good sunny spot in the front of the house with the temps looking good. So I am going to give her a final bathe and box her up later today. I'm thinking it feels more natural to let her sleep now if she wants to then keep her warm if she wakes early than to try and keep her up now, I love an early night and would not take kindly to being kept up! (I know she's not a human ..... ) wink.gif

I am intrigued and delighted by the world of 'tortoise' enthusiasts that is opening up to me through Rocky and can't wait to experience more!

Redjenner

#14 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 07:00 PM


Hi Redjenner, us torty peeps are a soppy ol'bunch! biggrin.gif rolleyes.gif

Has Rocky been woundown for long enough? Have a read of the link at the top of the page and then ask any questions you may have. Torty tums NEED to be empty when they go into hibernation, also heat and light should be gradually decreased?

Paula x

#15 Guest_littledeedee_*

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:18 PM

cor....
Im gonna dreed the time the Alfster goes down for his sleep huh.gif




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