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Hello & Too Late To Hibernate?

hibernation soft shell

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#1 Cocoa's Mom

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:02 AM

Hello! I'm new to Hermann's tortoises. My hermann's was acquired from a breeder (I'm from across The Pond) and in hindsight I'm not sure I will ever do that again for lots of reasons. I have always wanted a tortoise and did alot of research before deciding that a Hermann's was a good fit for me.

Cocoa was hatched mid April and came to me at about 3 weeks old as an apparently healthy 8g hatchling. Of course having her in hand (literally) I was more nervous that I was not doing the right things with her care and diet. Thanks to poor advice her diet the 1st few weeks was Romaine lettuce, kale, and a few other dark greens. She almost doubled her weight (up to 14 g) in a short time. Luckily, I found the Tortoise Forum and started to follow the recommendations for diet, soaking, etc. Just took me awhile to officially join. ;) I was scared that I had hurt her with faster-than-normal growth (still am) but I was able to slow her weight gain down nicely.

Since I could not initially find a source for a tortoise table (now they're everywhere), I set Cocoa up in a modified turtle table--a rabbit cage with a tall plastic bottom and wire top for the heat lamps. Cocoa has a heat lamp and UV lite at one end and her hide box on the other end. I change the bulb to adjust the heat up or down. The "table" is loosely decorated with plants and I use topsoil mixed with small amount of sand for the substrate. It has a clay water bowl on the heat end.

So, now for the part that's got me nervous. I was too scared to hibernate her. Wish I had. A couple of weeks ago she finally hit 26 g with shell length of 4.5 mm. She (of course her sex is unknown) was eating ok until several days ago when it seemed to take her a long time to wake up. Her weight was down to 24 g and her eyelid edges seemed puffy white but they kind of had that look she gets when she has just woken up. Initially I was worried about a respiratory infection but I believe now that she's more sleepy than sick.

She doesn't come out of her hide box to move around and sleeps all the time. She will eat a little if I encourage her but she acts like I'm disturbing her and is sleepy. I started soaking her daily to twice daily. Today her weight is down to 22 g. Two days ago she passed about 1/2 her normal feces and today she passed the regular amount of feces. Is she trying to hibernate? Any suggestions on what I should do? Also, is her plastron still supposed to be soft?

Thanks ahead of time for your help!


#2 Kelly

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 08:52 AM

Welcome to the forum. :welcomecrowd:

What are your temperatures like in Georgia at the moment? Is there anything that may have changed that is resulting in her change in behaviour?

Personally, I think you did the right thing in not hibernating her, as you've not had her long enough to have a good idea of her health. In order that a tortoise remains active while being overwintered, it's really important that you temperatures and lighting replicate that of summer conditions. (Ambient temp of between 18-20oc and a basking temp of 32-34oc). Even the slightest variation can result in a change in behaviour.

Do you have a specialist reptile vet near you? It may be worth while just to get her checked over just to be sure there are no underlying problems that may be contributing.... particularly as you have concerns about her eyes.

The plastrons on young hatchlings aren't as hard as that of adults and do tend to have a bit of movement in them.... especially around the area where the yolk sac has been absorbed. However by about 6 months it should have hardened up significantly. Do you provide any supplements with calcium and vitamin D3 in to help with bone and shell formation?

#3 Freddy

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:01 PM

Hi There,
I agree with Kelly's advice and would just add that sometimes a tortoise table can be affected by surrounding air temperatures so it might be a good idea to move Cocoa's enclosure into a warmer room. Best of luck.
Take care.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#4 Cocoa's Mom

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:17 PM

Thanks Kelly and Freddy for your replies!
The current average temp in Georgia is about 5-10C (sometimes much warmer) but inside it's fairly warm--about 20C. The ambient temperature is about 20C but the basking area is probably too warm at about 37-38C. I will use a slight cooler basking light. I also use a ReptiSun 5.0 UVB fluorescent lamp, which needs to be replaced. Is this an ok UV light? I have been giving a calcium supplement with vit D3 (ReptiCalcium brand) on her food once weekly. Should I supplement more frequently to help her shell?
I did take Cocoa to a reptile veterinarian and we started her on an antibiotic for her eyes as well as a systemic antibiotic.
She hasn't lost anymore weight but I will continue to soak her daily. I'm excitied that right now she's eating her hibiscus (her favorite!).
Cheers, Tarah

#5 Beermat89

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 09:54 PM

Hi welcome too the fourm
The ambient air temperature is ideal at 18-20c but dont let it drop much below that and as for the basking spot id just raise the heat lamp to where it sits at around 30-32 c which is ideal!as for the uv bulb,ive had some great advice from ozric and karen as 5.0 is no where near enough,u need to be looking at tubes 10.0 or 12.0 uvb as in their natural enviroments they are exsposed to high uv and uvb rays.hopes this helps
Regards matt

#6 Cocoa's Mom

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 05:09 AM

Hi Matt:

Thanks. This does help ALOT. Although my little tort sadly passed away a few days ago, I'm realizing some things that I could do differently next time. I had been using 5.0 UVB and will definitely upgrade to 10.0 (haven't come across 12.0 yet but will look for it). I will probably switch from a compact UV to a linear bulb. I think I could also stand to lower the basking temp as it sometimes approached 37C despite my attempts to use a low wattage bulb.

 

All great points you bring up. I'm still not sure what contributed to her death but every little improvement will help in the future. Thank you kindly for your advice.

 

Tarah



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Posted 01 March 2013 - 05:15 PM

Hello Tarah, it is sad to hear Cocoa has passed away. Sending you tight hugs to help you through this difficult time x x x tight hugs x x

#8 Beermat89

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:12 PM

Hi tarah
Sorry to hear that little cocoa has passed away,dont feel guilty as could of been some thing wrong with her since you had her which sadly they dont aways show signs of sickness unfortunatly!but hopefully next time will all be fine :).as for the lighting,10.0 is fine but arcadia t5 d3+ are 12.0 uv,karen and ozric have recomended them to me and they are great and last 12 months +.if the temperatures are too high in the enclosers,little ones can get dehydrated very easily so plenty of baths are in order as there little bodies dry out very quickly!my torts are 10,11 and 12 so they are much easier to keep as they are out doors all summer so getting lots of natural uv and they love the rain as im guessing refreshes them :).sorry to blabber on but best of luck in the future of tortoise keeping :)
Regards matt

#9 Freddy

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 01:43 PM

Hi Tarah,
Sorry to hear about Cocoa's passing. Thinking of you at this sad time.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#10 Graham

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 07:50 PM

Tarah, so sorry to hear of your loss, it upsets me so much to hear we've lost one of our torts.

Really thinking of you at this sad time.

Thinking of you.



#11 jessyprice

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:38 PM

Sorry about cocoa x





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