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Need Help ! - I Think I Broke My Hermann

Hibernation Issues

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#1 Guest_Levendus_*

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:20 AM

Hey there,

I'm a bit worried about my 9 year old Hermanns tortoise, called Yoshi. He was given to me by my partner's mum, who had looked after him well for the majority of his life, and this is the first year I've owned him. I treat him like a king ! I did a lot of research and reading and I've tried to give him a perfect and balanced diet, he's got a nice little wooden house to sleep in at night and a fairly large, fully closed off (tortoise proof) garden to roam around in the day. He's been generally a very happy little tortoise for the last 8 months. As the winter started to draw nearer I looked into hibernation, my girlfriend's mum had hibernated him every year without and problems, using the box within another box technique, plenty of newspaper / insulation etc. no problems,

This year I started to prepare him as the temperature dropped and we'd had a few cold nights. Also my tortoise started to try to bury himself at every oppurtunity, both in his little house and under leaves when he was outside. I stopped feeding him for 2-4 weeks to clear his system out and kept him hydrated, then I bought a shoebox sized card box, with some shredded news papers, and put that inside his wooden house, with some blankets around the outside for extra insulation, with the idea of putting him in my parents wooden shed for the winter. I didn't want to keep him in my garage as it's stone and the temperature will be very cold in there, also I didn't want to keep him inside due to the temperature fluctuating when the heating is on.

I took him to my parents and out him in the shed thinking he nestle down and go to sleep for the winter, but I went to check on him (2-3 weeks later) and he was fully awake ! My heart sunk realising that he'd not only been trapped in a dark box for 3 weeks but had also not been fed now for 6 weeks! it looked as if he'd been trying to claw his way out of the box as well and try to escape... poor thing. I've aborted the hibernation and brought him back home for some TLC. I think the problem was our crappy british weather, getting cold for a couple of weeks and then warm-ish again. I don't think it was cold enough for him to go under just yet.

I re-hydrated him and I've been trying to feed him some dandelion leaves, a bit of cucumber and a small bit of apple, but he's literally not eating anything ! he's active and walking around my front room at the moment scraping my furniture with his shell.

my question is do you think he'll be ok ?!
how can I entice him to eat again without damaging his stomach ?
Can I still hibernate him when it's cold enough ?!

Also he never seems to drink anything, I bathe him every week in luke warm water but I leave him a plate of water and he usually just walks over it and spills it, I try to hydrate him with watery fruit / veg as much as possible.

Any help and advice would be appreciated

Thank you

Pete (Yoshi's Dad)

Posted Image

(older photo, his shell looks a bit scuffed up here, but I assure you his shell is 100% perfect and healthy)

#2 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:00 PM

Hi Pete. I think that you did the right thing aborting the hibernation. As you say the temperature has been going up and down and a woodshed can actually get really quite warm when it's sunny, even if the air temperature is low. A garage might have been a more constant temperature, although I've only ever used a fridge myself.

The important thing is to get this tortoise going properly and eating again now that you have aborted the hibernation. In my opinion it would be safer not to try and hibernate the tortoise this year now, because some of his reserves will have been used up whilst he was in the woodshed.

I don't know what you usually do for heat and light, but what this tortoise needs now are mediterranean conditions, and I mean summer. Plenty of heat and light. Although the tortoise must not be trapped in sulight or forced to stay under a very hot lamp, you need to make it impossible for him to get cold. My suggestion would be a minimum of 20 centrigrade overnight and a minimum of 25 centigrade during the daytime with a basking spot of 38 centigrade. Several times a day place him under the basking spot if he doesn;t take himslef there.This will leave the tortoise in no doubt that it is summer and time to eat.

I always think its good to weigh a tortoise every few weeks and jot the weight down. This means that in a situation like this one, you can see if the tortoise lost weight whilst he was in the woodshed and you can see at a glance if he is heavier or lighter than last year at this time.

This tortoises' system might be a bit confused. I'd suggest remove all doubt by keeping him warm 24/7 for a week at least. In the short term he might still not eat but I wouldn't be too alarmed by this. The hydration is more importan. Bathe him in warm water which will help encourage him to expell any toxins that may have accumulated. If the tortoise was basically healthy before the attempted hibernation, he will probably be completely fine.

The weather is increasingly unreliable for hibernating tortoises in sheds and similar places, and inside your home is almost certainly far too warm. Unless you live like it was 1950 on a low income.

Lovely looking tortoise by the way!

#3 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:38 PM

Hi Pete,
I usually have the same problem with my 50 year old female THB.
October can be a very mild month temperature wise. My tortoise is currently in a stone garage and I was a little worried as it had been mild for the past 4 weeks but thankfully the temps have dropped now and her hibernation location is a lot colder. Sometimes this happens and it is always best to choose a colder location over a milder one. Hermanns hibernate better at lower temps. A stone garage or shed is always a good compromise as it protects torts from extreme weather conditions and wild swings in temperature.
Often torts will remain awake in their hibernation boxes for a few weeks until temps drop, indeed sometimes this can be for longer. This even happens in the wild. The way I deal with this is by recognizing that my tort has sufficient fat reserves to deal with such eventualities and should be able to cope. Personally, if I had found my tortoise still awake I would have moved her to a colder location as It would be clear she hadn't begun hibernation yet.
Anyway Pete, best to put this episode down to experience. We all live and learn.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#4 Guest_Georgehermantort_*

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 08:54 AM

Hi therIe
I also have a similar question. I put our mature (+40 years) herman tortoise in our cellar at the end of last winter as it seemed to be too cold in the shed and back room of our house (the toilet froze). He was in shredded paper in a shoe box in an insulated box. The cellar was a steady 8 degrees, which although is slightly warm seemed good as it kept steady temp.
So this year I thought that I would hibernate him down there again and I put him in a small box filled with shredded paper. As I wasn't sure that he was properly ready for hibernation I (stupidly) put the box on its side so that I could tell if he had moved or wanted to get out. For the first few weeks I kept checking and he didn't move at all and he seemed to be content and asleep (though he did pop his head out when I picked him up). I checked him a couple of days ago after not looking for a week or so and he was in the middle of the cellar floor wide awake (standing on the concrete floor, head out eyes open). I don't know how long he was there for. I have put him back in his box and also checked his weight which seems to be fine, but he does look a little white below his mouth so I am worried that he might be dehydrated. Otherwise he looks very healthy The temperature in the cellar has been around 12 degrees - I now realise that it must take a bit more time for it to get colder down there and that I should have put him in our outside stone shed until temperatures got really cold.
I just don't know what I should do now - if I bring him upstairs and try and rehydrate him etc. then I will have to keep him up all winter. He is a mature tortoise and the previous owner hibernated him in a garage (which must have gone below freezing) and he also hibernated in our garden a couple of years ago when it was a really cold winter, so I think that he is tough as old boots, but I don't think that he has ever been kept awake all winter and I worry that it might not suit him too well.
Otherwise, I could box him up properly and put him in the outside stone shed, which is also slightly underground so should maintain quite a steady temp (just checked and it is 8 degrees in there now).
Any advice would really be appreciated.
Liz

#5 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 08:10 PM

Hi Liz,
As your tortoise has been hibernated for many years now it would indeed be quite difficult to keep him up. Unfortunately your situation is becoming more and more commonplace as our winters become even milder. Personally, I think if your temps are fluctuating around the12 degree mark then your tortoise has not fully begun hibernation. Hibernation usually begins when temps fall to consistently low levels. If I were you, I would rehydrate your tort by bathing him in tepid water. I would then place him in his hibernation box and put him in your stone shed were temps are lower. I think your tortoise is a very hardy chap and should be fine. Hope this helps. Take care Liz.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#6 Guest_Georgehermantort_*

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 10:01 PM

Dear Freddy
Thank you for this - I think that is a good idea and I will give it a go. Assuming that it all goes fine, do you think that I should bring him out of hibernation a little bit early in the Spring as he may have used up some of his reserves?
Many thanks
Liz

#7 Guest_Freddy McGavin_*

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 10:43 PM

Dear Freddy
Thank you for this - I think that is a good idea and I will give it a go. Assuming that it all goes fine, do you think that I should bring him out of hibernation a little bit early in the Spring as he may have used up some of his reserves?
Many thanks
Liz

Hi Liz,
I do think it would be a good idea to bring him out of hibernation a little bit early in Spring as he would have used up a little more of his reserves. If you have any further problems you know where to find us. You can also PM me any time. Take care Liz and best of luck.
Kind Regards
Freddy




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