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#41 Guest_mediterraneansuze_*

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 09:35 PM

Can I just ask if your info came from US Suze?  Just interested, that's all ;)

Nope, but I am interested in what my tortoises are actually doing when dormant over the winter months. And it seems they are not doing the same as mammals when they hibernate. Hibernation is a good general term, that most people understand, and I use it all the time, but reptiles don't hibernate in the same way as mammals, they do something slightly different, so to distinguish the two you could say mammals hibernate and reptiles brumate.

I think often people are under the impression that torotises are asleep all winter, like mammals are when they hibernate, and actually tortoises are not.

#42 Freddy

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:03 PM

Hi Suze,

I agree that 'brumation' in reptiles is slightly different than 'hibernation' in mammals. I think the only question left is whether this difference merits the use of the word 'brumation'. Personally, I think if it is more scientifically accurate then it does. Take care ;)

Kind Regards

Freddy :D



#43 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:10 PM

I prefer to think of 'Brumation' as just another scientific word to describe dormancy in reptiles as opposed to 'Hibernation' in mammals.  

When used to describe a general process of Dormancy the word hibernation is fine. However when used to describe the specific process in reptiles Brumation may be more scientifically accurate. As research progresses in the whole area of herpetology it is obvious that new terms and new words will come into being.

I have always used the traditional and generic term hibernation and like others I have no inclination to change now. ;)

Kind Regards

Freddy :D

Yes, that is exactly how I see it too Freddy, although the word brumation has been around a long time in the US,I just never took much notice of it, much the same as the turtle/tortoise thing lol.  What I cannot get my head around is the fact that our tortoises are not supposed to be sleeping, whereas they would be pretty difficult to come around if taken out quickly.



#44 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:24 PM

Nope, but I am interested in what my tortoises are actually doing when dormant over the winter months. And it seems they are not doing the same as mammals when they hibernate. Hibernation is a good general term, that most people understand, and I use it all the time, but reptiles don't hibernate in the same way as mammals, they do something slightly different, so to distinguish the two you could say mammals hibernate and reptiles brumate.

I think often people are under the impression that torotises are asleep all winter, like mammals are when they hibernate, and actually tortoises are not.

I think we are all interested in what our tortoises are doing most of the time  Suze, which is why so much time is spent researching their behaviour. Obviously it is not exactly the same between mammals and reptiles, given that reptiles are cold blooded and therefore much more temperature dependant in situ, so to speak, rather than being able to plan in the same way as a mammal, which can retain it's natural body temp, when given the opportunity to use various beddings which it is capable of collecting for the purpose. I would still like to know what they do that is 'slightly different' rather than just accept this from another source. If tortoises are not asleep, then could you state exactly what they are doing, as the tightly closed eyes, lowering respiratory signs etc are a pretty good impression of it. You state that mammals are actually asleep during hibernation and yet they seem to pop in and out when the opportunity arises, according to many wildlife programmes. I'm really not being pedantic here, just now feel a need to know more, with evidence of some named studies, if you have them and their source.



#45 Freddy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 12:28 AM

My understanding of the differences between 'brumation' in reptiles and 'hibernation' in mammals is as follows:

 

(1) Mammals undergo more extreme physiological changes during hibernation. 

 

(2) Mammals tend to sleep for the entire winter period. Reptiles sleep for days and weeks on end but remain in a semi-dormant state.

 

(3) Mammals rely on fat as energy during hibernation. Reptiles rely on the chemical Glycogen. The metabolic processes are

completely different.

 

IMHO These differences seem to merit the use of the more scientifically accurate term 'Brumation' in reptiles.

 

But I could be wrong.

 

Best Regards

 

Freddy



#46 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 04:47 PM

LOL, that brings me to the question - If glycogen, as delivered from the liver is to give a boost to the body when coming out of hibernation, what happens if they do semi-wake and then go back again, given that a tortoise that has woken and therefore triggered the glycogen response, if they go back down again? This is getting very complicated isn't it lol and all when I am having a really bad day haha



#47 Freddy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:32 PM

LOL, that brings me to the question - If glycogen, as delivered from the liver is to give a boost to the body when coming out of hibernation, what happens if they do semi-wake and then go back again, given that a tortoise that has woken and therefore triggered the glycogen response, if they go back down again? This is getting very complicated isn't it lol and all when I am having a really bad day haha

 

Glycogen is not only used to boost the body when coming out of hibernation it is also needed in small quantities to keep reptiles alive and 'ticking over' during the hibernation process. The lower energy levels experienced by many reptiles during hibernation means that similarly low levels of glycogen are needed to meet this semi-dormant process. However, despite this, reptiles usually have sufficient reserves of glycogen to boost them when they wake. If they re-enter a hibernation state after using up their glycogen reserves then there is a real danger that they will never wake up. Hope this helps.

 

Best wishes

 

Freddy



#48 TillyTortoise

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 06:00 PM

Just spent half hour reading this, very interesting! 

Ross



#49 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 06:20 PM

 

Glycogen is not only used to boost the body when coming out of hibernation it is also needed in small quantities to keep reptiles alive and 'ticking over' during the hibernation process. The lower energy levels experienced by many reptiles during hibernation means that similarly low levels of glycogen are needed to meet this semi-dormant process. However, despite this, reptiles usually have sufficient reserves of glycogen to boost them when they wake. If they re-enter a hibernation state after using up their glycogen reserves then there is a real danger that they will never wake up. Hope this helps.

 

Best wishes

 

Freddy

Yes, I realise this Freddy, maybe I was not clear enough. I have actually heard of torts in the wild that do come up for a breather so to speak and then come up again at the end of hibernation, absolutely fine. I've had my doubts re this so called danger for a long time, given that it's been seen to happen, albeit in the Med and not from a hibernation box in my garage lol. I have rehabbed torts with post hibernation anorexia many times and obviously assumed in the past (very naughty of me) that this is what has likely happened ie lack of glycogen, but now am wondering if full bloods should have been done at the time to determine other causes. Either way, each case has been successfully treated with mainly heat and light and occasionally additional electrolytes etc



#50 Freddy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 07:45 PM

Yes, I realise this Freddy, maybe I was not clear enough. I have actually heard of torts in the wild that do come up for a breather so to speak and then come up again at the end of hibernation, absolutely fine. I've had my doubts re this so called danger for a long time, given that it's been seen to happen, albeit in the Med and not from a hibernation box in my garage lol. I have rehabbed torts with post hibernation anorexia many times and obviously assumed in the past (very naughty of me) that this is what has likely happened ie lack of glycogen, but now am wondering if full bloods should have been done at the time to determine other causes. Either way, each case has been successfully treated with mainly heat and light and occasionally additional electrolytes etc

 

I agree, Sue. I have often wondered the same thing myself. I am sure there are days when using the box method that temps in our garages are favourable and torts wake up only to re-enter hibernation again and then finally emerge at the end of the process absolutely fine.

My guess is that they haven't fully used up their Glycogen reserves and have something left to give them that added boost.

I also agree that Anorexia can be a serious problem especially with tortoises that are hibernated for lengthy periods (20 weeks).

I must admit my tort is one such herbivore that hibernates for long periods of time and it can take her up to a month to eat post-hibernation.

I am now trying to gradually reduce her hibernation length for this reason and also because her immune system seems to take longer to bounce back each time.

Kind Regards

Freddy



#51 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 08:09 PM

It's just as bad in torts with poor short hibernation Freddy. One of the ones I had had only had a few weeks because the owner became scared, but temps had not been cold enough and it took a long time to get it feeding again. There is obviously a lot more to this than we have learned from what is available to us. I know it goes against the grain, for fear of not knowing where they are and what amount of rain is forecast for the winter etc etc, but they do seem to fair far better when going deep into the ground as opposed to artificially hibernating in boxes. I would love to be able to provide a really deep predator proof outdoor hibernaculum for mine.



#52 Beermat89

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 08:18 PM

Yes i agree sue and freddy,i would love to hibernate mine naturally outside if i could too!is it true that 8-10 inches undercthe soil it stays around 5c all year round?

#53 Freddy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 08:48 PM

Yes i agree sue and freddy,i would love to hibernate mine naturally outside if i could too!is it true that 8-10 inches undercthe soil it stays around 5c all year round?

 

Yes, Matt. I have heard this too! :)

Best wishes

Freddy :D



#54 Beermat89

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 09:09 PM

Well i mite give it ago next year then freddy once i got my new greenhouse up and sorted,would be much easier :)
Regards matt

#55 Freddy

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 01:44 PM

Best of luck with that, Matt! :)

Kind Regards

Freddy :D



#56 Worried

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 02:11 AM

Thank you for the replies! Sorry it took me a while to return. I've learnt how to post images now, I'll respond to the replies after I've posted them.

 

Tortie's bum - girl or boy? I think girl:

 

2pyzt52.jpg

 

nyzec1.jpg

 

Tortie's underside - what race? (That's my mum in the pictures BTW)

 

1447adl.jpg

 

2hrjss0.jpg

 

Other pics - any commments on health or race?

 

2af0l8l.jpg

 

2yzh9i8.jpg

 

33w00vr.jpg

 

1zojax0.jpg

 

xooaj5.jpg  (the mark to the left of her head is a hole in the tile)

 

30j5jxf.jpg  (this pic was taken earlier in the year)



#57 Worried

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 02:18 AM

Sorry, I didn't know the pics would come out so big!

 

In the 7th photo down, the asymmetry of the shell is exaggerated a little bit due to the light only catching the left side. 



#58 Worried

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 02:31 AM

Yes i agree sue and freddy,i would love to hibernate mine naturally outside if i could too!is it true that 8-10 inches undercthe soil it stays around 5c all year round?

 

Not true!

 

"At a depth of 1 - 2 metres, there is a constant annual temp of 6 - 8°C. Temperatures in the top 2 feet of the soil fluctuate with the solar input and are liable to freeze."

 

Got the info from this uk site about geothermal heating: http://www.tigergree...und_source.html



#59 Worried

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 04:01 AM

Thank you to Wizzasmum for your long reply :)

 

You are right to be concerned and have made all the right observations re her failings  ;) I would suggest looking here www.tortsmad.com and here www.tortoises.net both sites based on research both in this country and their natural habitat and tried and tested for thirty odd years in this country  ;)

Never ever use heated blankets or heat mats, they are not suitable for tortoises and can cause dehydration and kidney problems.

Thanks for the links, I'll have a good look at them

Point noted about the heated blankets, that would explain why she's been so thirsty recently! They were marketed as good for tortoises :( 

 

Yes, eventually. it can take many years to kill a tortoise slowly, not meaning to be scary, but it is.

Okay, is there any way that the problems caused by the previous long hibernation can be remedied?

 

It will probably be easier to let it go ahead and then cut it short in the new year, when it will be easier to wake the tortoise and get it going again.

Okay.

 

If it has wound down correctly (longer than you are doing now) it will respond to touch by slight  movement and will move around in the box in response to temps anyway. A dead tortoise has sunken eyes and stinks  :(

What are temps? 

I was hoping to know how to tell if a tortoise is dead before it decomposes!

Maybe a better question would be, how do I tell if a tortoise's hibernation is not going so well?

 

Do not disturb for the first few weeks and then just touch test and weigh quickly once a month or so, and in the dark/cool to see it is not losing more than 10% of it's body weight.

I would probably worry to death if I didn't check for a few weeks! :P  Do you mean 10% each month, or 10% overall?

 

 

----------

 

Dogs love chocolate but it kills  ;)

Very true! Humans and animals eat all kinds of things that are not good for them

 

Be wary of dark green leaves as if from the cabbage family they will inhibit the uptake of calcium to the bones. They do not need fruit at all and would rarely find it in the wild.

(Rocket and outer cabbage leaves) Both very high in oxalates, so not a good idea on a regular basis.

Rocket is very low in oxalates, and cabbages are low, which is why I chose them. But why is worrying about oxalates even necessary for folivores? They've never been proven to inhibit calcium absorption even in humans (let alone leaf-eating tortoises) or cause any other problems, they remain unproven theories, with significant evidence that they are not true. We know so little about the biochemistry of the body (human, Hermann or any other species!) that for all we know, oxalates could be necessary in some way. I do try to make sure she gets mostly low oxalate leaves but give her a variety too, that way I've covered all bases. 

 

No, certainly not, no-one does this in the wild - water the substrate and bathing then becomes unnecessary but do leave access to water in case it wants to drink.

Excellent, this is what we've been doing - we've been leaving out a clay bowl of chlorine-free filtered water which she drinks from and climbs in

 

Depending on the size, it could be too late to change things, but correct diet and habitat will help future growth. A five year old hermanni would generally be around he size of the palm of your hand or smaller  ;)

Never too late in my opinion! As an adult I had my upper jaw stretched in a particular treatment that is considered, by conventional wisdom, impossible over the age of 14 and improbable over the age of about 8. The body is always replacing it's cells, it's never too late to correct something, it just takes much longer for adults. My tortie is age 7 and significantly larger than the palm of a hand, but the shell is constantly being eroded and regrowing, albeit very slowly. So I hope her shell can one day be better, even if it takes a few years to achieve this.

 

Even if her shell never is never corrected, doing everything right will at least keep it in the not-too-bad state it's currently in :)

 

Could be a parasitic problem as sugars can make them go berserk. As mentioned, do not feed grapes at all, they are bad for health.
I'd noticed it quite often about a minute after giving her grapes. More reason to make her stick to her leafy diet... no matter how much she looks at us hopefully!
 
-------------------

 

Tortoises do not do well on grass, so she is just doing what comes naturally, if the whole area was rocks and soil she would use it all.

It's just because it is grass, not good for the shell and not interesting to tortoises which like to dig and climb.

So that's why she prefers it when the grass is short!  I am considering replacing the grass lawn with a clover lawn anyway, I shall make sure she has some nice bare, rocky patches to enjoy. I hadn't considered making the terrain more uneven. I should have thought of that, I already knew they don't like flat ground because if they tip over, they can't rock themselves back the right way up. 

 

That is because, no matter what the surroundings a tortoise will always explore a new area relentlessly, it's a sign of stress, not good health 

She is obviously more settled now, a tortoise that constantly patrols is not happy.

 

I politely disagree on this, Hermann's roam extensively in the wild for food. She probably wants to find a more ideal habitat and to mate, but now knows she won't find it in this garden. When the gate is open giving her access to the front garden (where she's not allowed unsupervised) we don't move her or show her the gate's open, but she always wants to investigate. If it was only the stress of new surroundings making her wander, she would remain in her known, safe back garden and would not be interested in exploring anywhere new. 

 

If outdoors to feed she will have plenty d3 but a heater in her hide will warm her up and encourage her to go out more.

This is good to know, I'll get a UVB lamp anyway to give her a boost

 

Hills and dips are he way to go with rocks and lumps of wood to climb and strengthen the  muscles.

Advice noted, I will ensure that the garden is nicely climb-able :)

 

She is just looking for food. Loneliness is a human concept. In the wild you won't see them in groups, just wandering around alone, eating or hiding. It's what they have evolved to do. If she is a male, a friend will likely cause more harm than good - if female, then introduce another female from a reliable source, not a petshop etc.

 

I don't think she's looking for food in most cases, because she always does it, even after she's been fed (she's not particularly greedy although kind of fussy). She loves following people around and takes an interest in what we're doing.

 

I know that, as social animals, avoiding loneliness is very important to humans and sometimes we imagine this is the case for solitary animals, so I try to be aware of not projecting my human social feelings. In their natural environment, torties would know fellow tortoises are around, somewhere, even if they didn't interact much. There would be a presence. She's in a foreign environment and has never seen another Hermann's (except her siblings as babies), maybe she doesn't feel "loneliness", but she is missing something that she would have naturally. The garden is big enough for a couple of torts to avoid each other if they want their own space. 

 

-----------

 

Again, the climbing and pacing is a sign of stress as she cannot find her natural habitat. She needs to be in deep substrate and with somewhere to dig in, not straw or hay to hide under as this serves no purpose at all .

Which substrate do you recommend? She doesn't like bark chips or sand. Maybe a clean, organic sandy compost or mud?

 

 

Try uploading them to photobucket or a similar site and then transferring them over to here, that should work.

Did it on tinypic :)

 

No problem, highlighted the replies to hopefully make it easier to follow and understand  :)

Thanks :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#60 Worried

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 04:27 AM

Does anyone know of a good thermometer which I can leave in the garage, but read the temperature on a display indoors? That way we can check on the temperature at all times. Or a thermometer with an alarm that goes off when it gets too hot or cold. 

 

 

Hi There,

Welcome to the forum. You have certainly come to the right place for help. Sue (Wizzasmum) has given you some excellent advice. The only thing I would add is in relation to hibernation. A tortoise must be healthy and a good weight before hibernation. Weight is measured using a length(mm/cm) to weight(grams) comparison on the Jackson Ratio Chart. If a tortoise is healthy and measures up favourably on this chart then it is usually safe to hibernate.

http://www.hermann-t... for adult.html

Tortoises begin their wind-down to hibernation when they have stopped eating altogether. I usually bring my tortoise indoors when the weather gets colder and place her in a cool room not unlike the way your tortoise has been wound down in the past. The only difference is that I provide some heat from a heat lamp or from the central heating of my house so that my torts bodily functions can still work and she can pass poo and finally clear her gut which is essential before she hibernates.  The wind-down period for a 7 year old tortoise is approximately 4 weeks ( much longer then your friends wind-down length of 10 days). http://www.hermann-t...downperiod.html

During this time heat is gradually reduced until the tortoise has completely slowed down and is entirely inactive. After this 4 week wind-down it is usually time for hibernation. 

My preferred method of hibernation (although there are others) is the box method which usually means double boxing my tortoise in a layer of topsoil. A garage is a good cool location and because it is usually attached to at  least one wall of a heated house it doesn't tend to freeze. http://www.thetortoi...bernation04.htm

Finally the maximum length of hibernation for a 7 year old tortoise is approx 20 weeks but usually less. This means you can hibernate your tortoise later and wake him in April or as is the case in the UK hibernate him in November and wake him again in March. 12 weeks is the least amount of time you should hibernate an adult tortoise especially if the exercise is to have any benefit.

This has been my experience of hibernating tortoises for the past 30 years. I hope you find it useful. Hopefully there will be others along shortly to offer you more helpful advice. For now I wish you the best of luck with your tortoise and I hope you enjoy your stay.

Kind Regards

Freddy

 

Thanks for your response :)

 

I now think the wind down period was actually a bit longer than ten days. She would not eat for 10 days, then our friend would put her in a cold hallway until she fell asleep. Then she would be moved to the garage for her hibernation. So it might have been a little longer than I first thought. 

 

The back half of our garage is within the rest of the house, and the front half sticks out from the main building. It's north-facing. The house is detached. Will there be significant differences in the temperature within the garage? Nothing inside it has ever frozen, according to my mum. This summer we got an expensive whole-house water filter to put in the garage, which are ruined in freezing temperatures, and she was confident enough to spend over £600. However, it's situated on the inner wall next to the house. 

 

If we do hibernate her ourselves, it will be in the garage, but I'm worried about whether it will get too hot in the back or too cold in the front corner furthest from the house. I would have to go in and measure the temperature in various places on a few cold days and nights, and then take averages. But it might be a while before it gets cold enough to take measurements. 






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