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Just Lost A Tortoise During Hibernation (Advice Wanted)

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#1 Fordie1971


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Posted 12 February 2013 - 09:31 AM

I wondered if you could give your opinion on where we went wrong.
We inherited a female Herman's tortoise (Shelby) 17 months ago and
unfortunately we've just lost her during her second hibernation.
She was approx 10 years old and hadn't grown in length since the wind
down to her first hibernation but was a little heavier (although still
towards the bottom end of the Jackson ration)
We have successfully hibernated our other Herman's tortoise (George) for
7 years and so I felt comfortable doing so, but after this I feel so
guilty and full of doubt. The tortoises got on really well and in the
summer would often find each other and sit together in the garden.
George had always been aggressive towards other tortoises (biting their
legs) but never showed any of this towards Shelby. Maybe it was because
Shelby was bigger (or female or both).
As I mentioned Shelby was inherited from from a family member who had
passed away and as she hadn't been hibernated in the first 8 years she
was really big and her shell was really big and flat, but with
pyramiding. George did try and mate with her on a few occasions but
because of her large overgrown flat shell it didn't look like it would
ever be possible to succeed.
Now that she hasn't woken up I'm thinking of all the possibilities of
what could have gone wrong, and looking at her weight there is something
I should have paid more attention too.
At the start of her wind down on 9th November 2012 she was 704g and two
weeks later she was 684g I don't remember seeing any more poo from
either of them after the first 2 weeks of winding down, and I bathed
them regularly to try to get them to flush out any more waste. Her
weight at the end of the wind down on 9th December was 702g. At the time
I was surprised but thought the initial weight loss would have been the
losing waste and maybe she had been drinking and put a bit back on, on
that I'd misweighed her previously, but with hindsight I realise this
was unlikely and I should have paid more attention to it!.
Could you think of any other reasons that could have contributed weight
gain during this wind down, she could have been carrying eggs? as I
mentioned I feel this would have been highly unlikely and she would have
been ok to carry them through hibernation and lay them upon waking?, or
eating waste or her bedding? (kitchen roll covered by wood chippings?)
can you think of any other reasons? a tumour?
Her full weight recordings were as follows:
9th November start of wind down - 704g
27th November - 684g
9th December upon hibernating (fridge method) - 702g
20th December - 694g
8th January - 690g
20th January - 684g
10 February - upon waking and finding her dead 639g as fluids had leaked
out - 9 weeks in total
I checked them both far more regularly than I weighed them and observed
they had moved about but weren't showing any real signs of stirring and
were alive and well with no signs of urination and the temperature was a
steady 4c throughout, although as I was planning top wake them both up
this weekend just gone it was 2 weeks since I last looked at them and so
it was within this time that she died. Any help or advice would be
really appreciated
Thank You

#2 Freddy


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Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:11 PM

Hi There,
I'm so sorry to hear that 'Shelby' did not survive hibernation. It is always sad when a tortoise dies in this way.
Personally, I think there are only two reasons why this could have happened. Firstly, Shelby may have had an underlying illness before hibernation and secondly she may have lost too much weight or fluids during hibernation.
It is important that a tortoise is healthy and a good weight before hibernation. I suspect this is were the problem lies. A pre-hibernation health check from a vet is always a good idea especially when a tortoise has physical problems or deformities.
Please do not feel guilty about Shelby. We all make mistakes. It is possible that Shelby may have been ill for some time, long before you got her. Her demise may not be entirely your fault.
For now I send you my sincere sympathies and would like you to know that we are all thinking of you at this sad time.
Should you have any further questions or queries please do not hesitate to ask. We are a friendly, non-judgemental bunch here and are always ready to help. Take care.
Kind Regards

#3 Guest_Stella_*

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 05:11 PM

Hello, I am so sorry Shelby passed away during hibernation. It is a very risky business and it is something that un nerves owners every year. We can only do our best, and learn when things go wrong.
I agree with Freddy, your tort may have been poorly, but did not show any signs before hibernation.
X x x hugs x x

#4 jay


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Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:23 PM

so sad to hear that Shelby has passed away,dont feel guilty as you have cared and done everything right,i agree with Freddy and Stella she could have been poorly and showing no signs before hibernation,i have read that they can carry eggs through hibernation with no problems.
take care
Jaynex :(

#5 Graham


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Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:33 PM

Hello, Fordie,
So sorry to hear of your loss, it's devastating to lose our torts.
I have to agree with the others; it sounds very much as though Shelby was poorly when you had her, but showing no signs. You did your very best, but, unfortunately, it was too late. You've nothing at all to feel guilty about.
Take care.

#6 mildredsmam


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Posted 14 February 2013 - 05:22 AM

hi fordie im sorry to hear about shelby.

#7 jessyprice


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Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:32 PM

Sorry about shelby, I'm sure you did everything to the book but sometimes these things can't be helped x

#8 Cocoa's Mom

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 11:39 PM

Hi Fordie. I'm truly sorry to hear about your Shelby's passing.


#9 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:41 PM

Hi there - just been reading through these posts and feel I ought to put some input in here. It's not going to bring Shelby back but it might help save others. You say she was flat and pyramided. The pyramiding would not have been too much of a problem, but the flattness would. If she was not domed as most healthy tortoises are, then this would almost certainly have been the reason. When tortoises are flatter than normal, they have reduced lung capacity and so hibernation becomes dangerous. You did not know this, so it is not your fault, but hopefully others will take note, not to hibernate flatter tortoises or those with MBD.

Sorry for your loss :(

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