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OMG!!! I nearly killed my tortoise!!!


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#1 Guest_Queen of Wales_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 06:59 PM

Just a word of warning to all torty owners out there who have put their babies to sleep for the winter...........PLEASE CHECK THEIR TEMPERATURES!!!! I have just very nearly let my baby freeze to death! :unsure:

We're all snowed in on our mountain here in deepest, darkest Wales and temperatures have been plummeting to minus 15 degrees during the night. I checked on Marika at dawn this morning and her hibernation box was registering at minus 4 degrees!!! I took an anal temp and it proved to be minus 1!! Panic! Panic! Panic!!

I warmed her up slightly by bringing her & her box in the house and placed her on a cold shelf next to the window (defrost slow and steady) until she reached a respectable 3 degrees. Thankfully, she's fine (responding to touch whilst drowsy, eyes clear, no snotty nose or bubbles) but I won't be letting her hibernate in the ground again.

Usually, she's fine since the hibernation hole is about 3 to 4 foot under the ground and the frosts don't get that low but then we never get temperatures of minus bl**dy 15 degrees usually!!

I used to rely on fridges but since I live in a tiny cottage, I only have room in the carport for one and a couple of years ago, it got pretty cold and the fridge turned itself off!! Stupid thing was warmer on the inside than it was on the outside!

Just wanted to warn you all on the dangers of this nasty weather and please check your fridges!!

Thanks for reading my panic!!

Joanne. :blink:

#2 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:21 PM

Hi Joanne,
Glad that you were able to rescue Marika. Temperatures outside have really plummeted lately. The tortoise trust have also some helpful information on their site RE: the box method of hibernation and cold winter weather. Anyway, Joanne thank you once again for your advice. It is much appreciated. ;)
Kind Regards
Freddy :D

#3 Guest_gail69_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:40 PM


Hi Joanne.

It is such a worry. I am so glad you were vigilant enough to check your temps.

I have a rehomer who dug down in the greenhouse (contrary to any plans I may of had for her) at the begining of October. She has been there since. We had a re-call on her new greenhouse heater from the manufacturers due to a fault. And we are still awaiting the replacement. All I seem to be doing at the moment is adding more layers to her. I have covered the area with straw and now two layers of carpet. But believe me I am worried sick over her. The weather has really taken a turn for the worse and so much earlier than usual.

Hope all goes well for the rest of hibernation.

Gail
xx



#4 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:50 PM

Hi Gail,
I hope everything goes well with Tilly and that you get your greenhouse heater soon. It must be an awful worry for you. Take care.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#5 Guest_jay_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:51 PM

Joanne
what a panic for you,these temps are low my H and Becky have gone in hibernation today in there house with a heater but i will have to keep a close eye on there temps also,what a worrying time of year for us all.

#6 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 07:53 PM

Hi Jay,
Hibernation time certainly is a worrying time for us all. Hope H and Becky's hibernation goes well? Best of luck ;)
Kind Regards
Freddy :D

#7 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 08:42 PM

That is a completely valid panic!! :blink:

Thank goodness you were able to sort her out in time.

What are you going to do next?????

Thanks for sharing your panic... it may well help others!

Paula x

#8 Guest_Queen of Wales_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 09:02 PM

Thanks guys & gals for your support. I NEVER panic normally as my job (nurse) has trained me well to keep a level head but it was the last thing I expected.

She usually takes herself off when she's emptied her gut and drank her fill and I don't see her until April. Her nest box is 3 to 4 feet underground and has a thermometer fitted which I only really used during the first year of this hibernating method to make sure the temperatures kept a constant 3 to 7 degrees. It worked really well and I don't usually check since the frost and snow only penetrates about 2 feet down...usually! Severe weather up here has deemed it otherwise. I just thank the Gods that I had enough foresight to make the nest box removable!

She is still in her little nest box, stuffed with fluff and her temperature is a cosy 5 degrees. Luckily, I hadn't gotten around to insulating the roof eaves (one of those jobs you mean to do!) so she shall be spending her hibernation in there behind the ensuite since it's never used & keeps a constant 5 degrees.

Good luck with your newby @ Gail. With a little luck, she's dug down enough to protect her and the extras you've put on top will keep her perfectly safe. Carpet is a BRILLIANT stroke of genius! Burying is the way they do it in the wild but then again, they're never subjected to such extremes of temperature in their native lands.

You have started my brain off in hatching a cunning plan to stop this ever happening again but I will have to experiment a little before I go public. This is going to involve alot of carpet off cuts and Kingspan insulation boards!

Thanks again everyone................... :wub:

#9 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 09:49 PM

Sounds interesting! :laugh: We await with baited breath! :D

Your hibernation box, would you mind telling us how it works? Is it a permanant hole that the box is lowered into? What is the box made of?
Hope you don't mind all the questions it's just that I have never had the opportunity to ask anyone that hibernates in this way exactly how they do it! :rolleyes:

Paula x

#10 Guest_Queen of Wales_*

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 11:13 PM

Marika has her own area of the garden which is about 3m x 3m. She has a cold frame and a ceramic lamp on one side and her own plants and garden on the other. I had to dig out a trench which covers the full area about 10 inches down and line it with chicken wire since my little princess is a digger but one section under the cold frame is 3 and a bit feet down and has a tunnel to the surface. She uses this as her hibernation box.

The box is made of wood and insulated with shredded up paper and wood chippings. Trial and error showed me that this was Marikas chosen substrate for hibernating. I have drilled lots of ventillation holes and it has an open end with a lip that connects to the tunnel leading up to the surface. The area above the box is a metal gabion (like a wire cage) filled with top soil for easy access. You just need to lift the gabion up to gain access to the box which turned out quite well for getting her out with it being so bl**dy cold!

That's about it really and Marika is quite happy there normally. She has a slow and steady growth since she's not a glutton and just eats what she needs, I improve her diet with a sprinkling of vitamin powder every other day and she is very partial to empty wood snail shells which she goes mad for!! She also has access to clean water everyday and has that lime powder (which I can't stand the smell of) on the surrounding plants so she has a balanced diet. Tortoise heaven I thought!

She does have a nursery table on standby should she ever become sick (Had to over winter her due to an eye infection once) and need a little more TLC. Touch wood.....everything is ok so far.

Hope this is of some help?

:wub:

#11 Guest_markf_*

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 04:38 PM

Glad your tortoise is ok! Sounds like a good way to hibernate normally!! Usually people here opt for the fridge method because we can get crazy warm spells not because we get such crazy cold ones!

#12 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 07:02 PM

Hi Joanne,
I would seriously reconsider where you hibernate Marika in future. Half way up a mountain and outdoors can't be ideal particularly in Wales and especially as the winters aren't getting any milder. Would you not consider the box method and somewhere indoors ??? Just a suggestion..... Hope this helps.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#13 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:15 PM

Ooooh thank you so much for all the info, lots of us do things in the same way as the sources for our information only seem to stem from limited areas.
It is always interesting to hear what works for others.
Did make me smile... my princess is a digger! :laugh: Not something we usually read!
Hope things run much more smoothly here on in. :wub:

Paula x

#14 Guest_Queen of Wales_*

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 09:54 PM

I like my method as does Marika. I went into alot of research before getting a tortoise and the natural way is the best way for us. I did have a try with the fridge method but it wasn't a complete success and Marika lost too much weight over her hibernation period. She must have been waking up and going back to sleep too much, thus burning up her fat reserves each time.

I will resolve the issue with the underground tunnel in the Spring ready for next year by digging the hole a foot deeper and am taking a page out of Gail's book by using carpet to line the hole with. I am also going to insulate the nesting box with Kingspan boards. Am researching underground heat sources too which will be thermostatically controlled so that this can never happen again.

Marika has gone back to sleep now and hopefully, all will be well until the warmer weather arrives.

Thanks again for all your help and advice.

:wub:

#15 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 10:06 PM

Hi Joanne,
I realize that you are in the best position to know what is good or bad for Marika. I just thought my suggestion would be better for her in the long run and save you a lot of worry and panic. But I understand at the end of the day you have the final call. Best of luck Joanne. ;)
Kind Regards
Freddy :D

#16 Guest_gail69_*

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 06:16 PM

Hi Joanne

I have to say that I think your way of hibernation is to be admired. You really have researched well and I have know doubt that you and Marika have worked out between you, what suits her best.

Well done. And Have to say I do think the carpet is working well at the moment. But I am off to get a new heater tomorrow. As I am still quite concerned about Tilly and the terrible drop in temperatures.


#17 Guest_Queen of Wales_*

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 11:02 PM

@ Gail.

I have been assured (by a reptile expert and geologist) that my tortoise will be fine at a depth of 4ft which is what I have aimed for. I am not taking any chances for next hibernation though and have plans of an insulated site that my baby can dig down into. They agree with your carpet idea!

Thanks again for the handy hint.

Much gratitude,

Joanne. :wub:

#18 Guest_Queen of Wales_*

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 11:05 PM

And also... a great big thanks to Freddy!

I really appreciate your advice as you can never have too much help.

:wub:




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