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Weight loss - a stubborn tortoise with a track record

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#1 Guest_alberts_owner_*

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 06:33 PM

Dear all learned community.

I feel I have some experience of hibernation from the limited (4 year) experience of hibernating our 2 young tortoises - both in their 6th winter but I feel I would need some more expert advice for the more troublesome of our 2 tortoises.

The male tortoise is a persistent problem hibernating as he regularly looses more weight than that considered safe. We had to take him out after around 4-5 weeks last year as he lost too much weight. I was determined to leave him in as long as possible (was aiming for at least 12 weeks - if not the full 16). The fridge we hibernate in is usually around 3.5 - 4.5c on the bottom and 5.5 - 6.5c on the top and we usually make sure a tortoise that looks as though it is losing weight has the colder part of the fridge.

I am pretty certain he does not have worms as he has been wormed every year - had been assessed as being free of worms for around 4 years, has not showed any sign of dead or alive worms in poo and has put on a reasonable weight gain this year (around +20-30g peak). Our other tortoise Albert (a female!) has also consistently put on a lot of weight (3-4 times more so than Grace)

Basic facts are: - His summer approx peak this year was 323g (Just for comparison our female tortoise's peak was around 580g).

On the first day of wind down and no food he was 302g,

He was hibernated on Nov 24th weighing 292g (which was considerably less weight loss than the year before where he lost about 20g between wind down and 1st day of hibernation and what would appear a healthy weight loss up to then - 3% - probably because he was already ready for hibernation come wind down period in Oct-Nov). However, I am very confident he didn't have any food left in his stomach as he had a 26 day wind down period (quite long for a small tortoise). He has been in hibernating in a fridge with a bottom shelf fridge weight of between 3.5 - 4.5 deg.

However, since then he has lost 10g (282g) in 7 weeks - over 3%. He does not appear to have urinated (if he had I would have woke him up straight away). Allowing for 1% a month loss this is way too much and his weight hasn't really slowed down too much. His weekly weight has been 292, 289, 288, 287, 286, 285, 283, 282. Although he has some room in his box to move around in - he hasn't appeared to move much at all and still looks very much in hibernation when I get him out to check on him.

Obviously the weight makes a compelling argument for waking him up prematurely but the one thing I would add is that Grace (yes HIS name is Grace) has always been on the lower end of the healthy Jackson's ratio and he has always lost a lot of weight during wind down - without seemingly appearing any less healthy. Should I take into account his track record of losing weight and carry on hibernating or wake him up sooner rather than prolong waking him up?

Many thanks in advance for any replies!


#2 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

Guest_Freddy McGavin_*
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Posted 11 January 2011 - 07:15 PM

Hi There,
As a general rule of thumb when a tortoise reaches a loss of 10% of it's original weight, taken from the time you first stop feeding i.e the start of wind-down, then it is time to get it up. As Grace was 302 grams before wind-down, 10% weight loss would be approx 30 grams. I think he has now lost 20 grams, and judging by his weekly weight loss you could leave him in for at least the 12 weeks or so. I think long term you will just have to keep a close eye on this tortoise especially if he has a track record of weight loss. Hope this helps. Best of luck.
Kind Regards

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