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#1 Graham

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:31 PM

Hello, everyone, I’m a new owner and would like to introduce myself and my beloved tortoise, Harry, to you, and I have a question too.
I waited two years before having Harry because I wanted to thoroughly research the subject of tortoise-keeping, and prepare the garden for his residence. I believe I’ve done everything right so far; the garden is full of all the plants he’s allowed to eat, I don’t feed him anything at all from the shops, except for lamb’s lettuce. He seems to have settled in really well, eats and drinks fine, wees and poos most days, and loves exploring his new habitat. I took him to the a vet recently who specializes in torts and turtles, and she was most impressed with his health and the level of care given to him.

I do have one thing that’s bugging me though: Hibernation. I’ve bought a brand new fridge of the correct type, followed all the tortoise groups instructions to the letter, so that the fridge will be of the correct temperature and humidity when the time comes for him to go in. But nevertheless, I’m still terrified; I’ve read that this method is by far the most reliable, but I’ve also heard some horror stories too; one poor gentleman lost three out of eight of his tortoises in the fridge, and one lady lost all four of hers the same way. Can anyone give me any advice or assurance, and is it really normal for me to be so scared of this method of hibernation?
Thanks in advance.
Graham

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#2 Kelly

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:37 PM

It's going to be the first time I've hibernated by 3 year old too, so you're not alone. :)

This link was posted on this site not long ago by one of the moderators and it's a brilliant step by step guide. I found it really useful.

http://www.thetortoi...bernation04.htm

I think as long as you're opening the fridge daily to regulate the air, doing visual checks on your tort and weighing weekly there should be no problems. Invest in a good min/max fridge thermometer with and alarm on and if there are any problems during the big sleep, bring your tortoise out again. x

#3 Freddy

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 05:59 PM

Hi Graham,
Welcome to the forum. Glad you found us. Harry sounds like a wonderful character and is so lucky to have such a dedicated owner as you.
Hibernation can be a worrying time for us all. I've been hibernating my tortoise successfully for the past 30 years and each time I put her down I always get a little worried. It is a wonder I am not a nervous wreck by now! lol.
However these feelings are natural and all tortoise keepers experience them. Suffice to say as long as you are well prepared for Harry's hibernation and follow instructions to the letter everything will be fine.
Hibernation is the most natural thing in the world for tortoises and something they are biologically programmed to do. So there is no need to worry.
Be sure to keep in touch with us here on the forum during Harry's hibernation. You will get plenty of great support and advice here.
Take care Graham and best of luck!
Kind Regards
Freddy

#4 Graham

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:17 PM

Hi, thank you for your replies, and for the warm welcome to the community; I'm sure I'll make many friends on here, and glean much valuable information towards looking after my beloved Harry.
Mind if I ask a further question? On the topic of hibernation, I've found conflicting views on the substrate to be used; the general consensus appears to be in favour of topsoil, some say it should be a 50/50 mix with playsand, but others say it should be soil only, as the sand can irritate the tort's eyes. Can anyone advise me a bit further on this, please? Many thanks.
Freddy, glad to hear it's normal to be nervous of hibernation even thirty years down the line; looks like the little bit of hair of got left on my head will shortly go grey and leave me!
Best to everyone.
Graham

#5 Freddy

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:33 PM

Hi Graham,
You are correct. A 50/50 mix of sand and soil could irritate your torts eyes. I would use topsoil only. Hope this helps. Take care.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#6 Graham

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:50 PM

Thank you, Freddy, I'll do that.
Kind regards,
Graham

#7 mildredsmam

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:18 AM

hi Graham welcome to the forum :)
harrys lovely
i use a fridge to hibernate my tortoises it works well.
i think as long as your tortoise is healthy and you do the wind down right harry will be fine :)
i use topsoil in their hibernation boxes its best to use it slightly damp and not to dry.
its also best to have your fridge running for some time before so you can get the temperature stable :thumbup:

#8 Patp

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 10:50 AM

Hi, I found topsoil to be best also, so you could see if they had passed anything during hibernation. I put the soil in icecream containers and found mine just lay onto of the soil rather than dig down (which was easier when weighing them).

The only other thing I would say is make sure the fridge is in the house, not in a garage or outhouse as the room temperatures can affect the fridge temps and it is harder to keep consistent and fill any void space with bottles of water.

During hibernation time, my indoor kitchen fridge becomes my drink / tortoise fridge and my garage fridge becomes my food fridge!

The first time is the worst but it doesn't necessarily get easier - if you know what I mean.

Regards

Pat

#9 Graham

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:36 PM

Sorry to be a pain again, but does anyone use Verve topsoil from B&Q? I've got a bag, and looking at it closely, it looks as though there's a small proportion of sand already in it. It doesn't say so on the packaging, so maybe it's my eyesight.
Thanks for any help.

#10 Freddy

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:42 PM

Hi Graham,
You are certainly not a pain. :) We are glad to answer your questions. :happy: I am not too sure about B&Q topsoil. Hopefully there will be others along shortly to offer you more helpful advice. Take care. ;)
Kind Regards
Freddy :D

#11 mildredsmam

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 07:43 PM

Sorry to be a pain again, but does anyone use Verve topsoil from B&Q? I've got a bag, and looking at it closely, it looks as though there's a small proportion of sand already in it. It doesn't say so on the packaging, so maybe it's my eyesight.
Thanks for any help.

hi i use b and q sterilised topsoil and have done for some time with no problems.

#12 Patp

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:59 PM

hi i use b and q sterilised topsoil and have done for some time with no problems.


Me too.

Pat

#13 Hettie

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 08:15 PM

Hi Graham,

Welcome to the forum. :)

The topsoil/sand thing isn't an exact science, I wonder if it originated from people using a heavy clay garden soil and needing to break it up a little for torty to dig down in and to improve drainage so that it didn't hold too much moisture?

I have had a change of opinion on using topsoil in my hibernation boxes. I have used this method and believed it was ideal, giving torty a little from the enclosure to hopefully 'smell' like home. Also if torty wees it is easy to spot.
However, last hibernation, just a short while before my girls were due to get up I did their weekly weigh in and as I lifted them from the soil the sun shone brightly and I could see loads of tiny worms underneath the girls! I paniced and thought they had worms that were making their way out because there was no food left inside them. All I could do was change the soil quickly, wipe the underneath of theor shells and pop them back while I thought about what to do.
A really experienced keeper told me that the worms were probably from the soil. To monitor them closely but to leave them to finish their big sleep. I took his advice and on waking tested the girls for worms. They were clear and the worms had come from the soil. I think I might try shredded paper this year but worry that they won't get the hydration or the slightly damp soil and that I might not spot a wee.
Does it ever get less worrying? :rolleyes:

Paula x




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