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Hibernation Help


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#1 vicky

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 11:32 AM

Hi everyone, I recently inherited a Hermann from an elderly relative, he is around 40 years old, I am a bit confused regarding hibernation! He lives outside in a run, I have noticed that he has started slowing down and not eating much and going into his little house earlier in the day, I have started bringing him in at nights as the temperatures have dropped. I have loads of questions though!
Is it ok for him to be outside on a chilly day in September, or does he need some heating in his little house?
When should I start winding him down?
Should he be inside for this?
How long should he not have food for before he starts hibernating?
Thankyou

#2 Freddy

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 07:25 PM

Hi Vicky,
Welcome to the forum. If you have no outside heating for your tort then it would be better to keep him indoors on days or nights when it is cold. Wind-down usually begins when a tortoise finally stops eating. For a 40 year old tortoise wind-down should last about 4 weeks. This will give your tortoise enough time to clear its gut. You must offer no food during the 4 week wind-down or starvation period. You will also need to gradually reduce temps during this time.
Like you, I have a solitary tortoise and when the weather gets cold and she stops eating I usually bring her indoors and keep her in a cool room to begin wind-down. Once inside you can use a lamp or central heating. This will help maintain your tortoise's bodily functions and help clear any food that may remain in its gut. However, you will still need to eventually decrease heat and light in preparation for hibernation.
At the end of the 4 week wind-down when your tort has finally slowed down and is completely inactive it will be time for hibernation.
Some keepers especially in more temperate or milder areas of the country keep their tortoises outside in an outdoor enclosure with a heated house. If you can do this, that is also fine. Anyway, I hope I have answered most of your questions. Should you have any further questions please feel free to ask. We are a friendly, helpful bunch and are only too delighted to help. Finally, here is a link about hibernation methods and wind-down which you may find useful: http://www.thetortoi...bernation04.htm.
Best of luck.
Kind Regards
Freddy

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 07:27 PM

Well done on taking on this tortoise. He is fine outdoors in September so long as it is sunny, otherwise he cannot warm up. You can start wind down outside but he must have heat in his 'house' for bad days or he will not be able to empty his gut. Don't start wind down until a month before you want him to hibernate. Do keep up warm soaks though until he goes into the box, become cooler until he actually stops altogether. This is how I do mine www.tortsmad.com/hibernation.htm



#4 vicky

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:03 PM

Hi thanks very much for your replies, they are a great help, I am still quite confused, I want to do the best for her and am worrying about hibernation still, adding to my worries is that she layed an egg a couple of days ago! Is this normal? Will it affect hibernation??
I have her in the house overnight and she is sleeping longer in the mornings, I am only using a quick half hour blast of central heating for warmth at the moment, is this ok or should I be using a heat lamp as well? I did offer her food today she did eat some apple (which I just feed once weekly as I coat it in calcium powder, as that is the only way I can get her to eat it), she didn't eat much else, when the sun came out today I put her outside until she went into her outdoor house, then bought her back inside, is this ok?

Thankyou

#5 Freddy

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:56 PM

Hi Vicky,
Sometimes torts lay unfertilized eggs, even at this time of year. I expect if she has any more she will lay them between now and hibernation. It is important you keep feeding her as long as you can to help her replace any vitamins or minerals she may have lost from the egg laying. Supplementing her food with calcium will help. If you can keep her eating for another couple of weeks before wind-down she should be OK for hibernation. Putting her heat lamp on will also help stimulate her appetite.
Finally, my tort has never laid eggs so I'm not very experienced when it comes to this. Hopefully Sue AKA 'Wizzasmum' will be along later to help answer your questions. For now best of luck and take care.
Kind Regards
Freddy

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 08:32 PM

Hi Vicky. Laying an egg brings about a whole different scenario. Did she lay it on the surface of the substrate - is she on a deep substrate? Tortoises also go off their food and can behave differently when gravid (carrying eggs), so her behaviour may mean that she has more eggs to lay. If she does not have a deep laying area with a heat lamp above, she will try to hold onto any more eggs, which could become calcified and therefore become impossible to lay. My next move would be to take her to a vet to get her x-rayed for the possibility of more eggs. If she does not have any, then she should be fine to hibernate after a period of recovery - this is not normal egg laying times, especially for outdoor tortoises and might just indicate a problem. Any vet will be able to do the x-ray for you but you will need a specialist to do further tests and possibly induce any retained eggs. If she does need to have to have treatment then I would not let her hibernate until much later in the season, so she will need to be kept going under lamps for a time. Might be a daft question, but has she been in contact with other tortoises?



#7 vicky

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 09:05 PM

Thankyou for you reply, I am now really worried! She layed the egg on our wooden floor in the house! Unfortunately I walked in the room not expecting to see an egg on the floor and stood on it!! It was definitely unfertilised! She hasn't had contact with any other tortoises that I know of def since we have had her (end of May)

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 09:40 AM

I would have her x-rayed and if she is clear of more, then give her a few days and continue as before, but don't put into hibernation with the possibility of eggs being ready to be laid. It is unusual for lone females to start laying, but does happen occasionally.



#9 vicky

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 02:33 PM

Thanks again for your help, since my last post we have had another egg! This time was laid in her bed (on top of the grass) however since she has laid this there has been a definite change in her behaviour, she isn't as restless as she was, she used to pace around her house constantly, the main difference is her eating, before she was eating very very little, but now omg what a difference! She is eating so much food I am feeding her twice a day with florrete plus weeds I am giving her calcium on each feed plus she is grazing on clover and leaves in the bushes when she goes for a walk in the garden. I feel certain there is no more eggs as the change in her has been drastic, I may wait to hibernate her just to make doubly sure, also I am giving her daily warm baths to help in case there are more eggs, personally I don't think there is,many more advice anybody can think of would be great as I have so much to learn still. Thankyou (feeling happier now and a bit more confident!)

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 07:52 PM

It's up to you of course, but for the cost of an x-ray, I would not be hibernating her if she was mine ;) 



#11 vicky

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 11:53 AM

Hi thanks for your advice, she laid three more eggs, so today took her to the vet for an X-ray, there were 8 eggs in there all a good size and the same size, she was given a hormone injection and within 30 minutes of being home layed them all! She was checked over by the vet and she is a good weight and healthy, I am going to start winding her down in a couple of weeks, but will have another X-ray done just to double check!

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 02:36 PM

I would not x-ray again if she has passed them all, as she will not make more so soon. Normally induction is preceded by injections of calcium borogluconate several days prior to giving oxytocin, so do be sure you give your tortoise lots of calcium to make sure she has enough to prevent problems in hibernation. Not sure why the vet did not do this for you :/



#13 vicky

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 04:03 PM

I have been giving extra calcium since she started laying eggs, been giving daily on her food, I will ask the vet why she didn't do this, thanks again for your advise

#14 Freddy

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 04:20 PM

Hi Vicky,
Glad to hear your tort finally laid all her eggs. Supplementing her food with calcium is always a good idea especially when a tortoise has had eggs. She will also need plenty of building up before wind-down and hibernation. So I would try to keep her eating as long as you can.
Hope this helps.
Take care and best of luck.
Kind Regards
Freddy

#15 vicky

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 09:51 AM

I did think about winding her down this week, I didn't feed yesterday, but she does seem quite lively still, not sure if I should start the wind down now or leave it a couple more weeks,any advice would be appreciated thanks

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 02:09 PM

You can start now if she's beginning to stop eating , and start reducing heat and light over about a week to two weeks then switch off lights and heat. And another two weeks in a cool room and she will be ready to hibernate. But if your going to start now, you need to stop feeding her now. Bath her daily in warm water.

#17 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 03:33 PM

I did think about winding her down this week, I didn't feed yesterday, but she does seem quite lively still, not sure if I should start the wind down now or leave it a couple more weeks,any advice would be appreciated thanks

She will calm down as temps drop, or if in a table top, you can do this by reducing the heat you offer. The earlier you put her in, the earlier you might have to get her out, depending on weight loss, so if you are happy to keep feeding her while she is happy to take it you could wind her down when you are ready. Depending on the heat in your house, give her cool baths every few days to keep her hydrated. Don't use warm water on wind down as this just activates them, just use room temp water as your aim is to hydrate, not stimulate ;)



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Posted 19 October 2013 - 04:44 PM

I've always thought they should have warm baths, but if you think cool is better then I'll do that.

#19 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 05:24 PM

It has to be the owners choice, but thinking of nature, all surrounding them is the same temp and given that warm baths are given in spring time to help them get going, then I tend to stick to the same temp as the air, so that nothing is stimulated, just hydrated. I find that in the  past when I gave warmer baths, the boys would gear up a notch, which was not intended ;) 






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