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Hibernation Question From A Complete Beginner!


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#1 Pickle1983

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 09:01 PM

Hi all,
So I would really like to hibernate Queenie this year, I've noticed she is sleeping a lot more now and, reading all of the comments on here I know how important it is.
The problem is I have never done it before, I have had her for almost 4 years and I've always been afraid to do it :(

I was completely ready to begin the wind down period and then I mentioned it to two separate friends who both have tortoises and the said I shouldn't do it as there is a high risk she could die during hibernation :( I would feel absolutely awful of this happened. So I thought I would speak to the experts on here!

Queenie had a really healthy appetite all over summer, she had an abundance of different edible foods and I kept a check on her weight frequently.

At the moment she weighs 542g and is 13.3cm's. She is about 6 or 7 years old and the Jackson ratio says she the ratio is 0.23 which I know is slightly overweight, this is why I thought it might be good to hibernate her because it should hopefully bring her weight down.

But now I'm terrified about her dying or getting ill.

She seems very healthy to me, she regularly goes to toilet and, while she doesn't really drink from her water bowl regularly, I do bath her to try to keep her hydrated.

Can any one offer a worried owner some advice?

All help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Nic

#2 Freddy

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 10:39 PM

Hi Nic,

I  understand your feelings about hibernating Queenie. It happens to us all when hibernating a tortoise for the first time. As you say she is now 6-7 years old is healthy and a good weight and if you are prepared I don't see the problem. However if you still feel a little nervous and unsure I would leave it until next year when you are a little more confident and better prepared. There are various methods of hibernating a tortoise including the fridge method and the box method. The former is the most popular but requires some preparation and time given over to regulating the fridge properly beforehand and ensuring it has stable temps and is safe to use. The Box method is usually used by owners with older torts who have been hibernating them this way for a long time. 

I know it doesn't really help but only you can say if you are ready to take the next step towards hibernation. At the end of the day the decision is entirely yours.

I would say if your tortoise is healthy and a good weight go for it but if you are a little unconfident and unprepared aim to definitely hibernate her next time round.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide. Take care.

Kind Regards

Freddy



#3 Pickle1983

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 12:04 PM

Hi Freddy,

Thank you for your advice - much appreciated.

I think on this occasion I will wait until next year then when I am more prepared.

As I will be keeping her awake this winter do you have any recommendations for food for her and how long to keep her lights on in the day etc?

At the moment I am feeding her pansies, kale and lambs lettuce daily, should I limit her food intake as she is slightly overweight on the Jackson ratio.

Thank you :)
Nic

#4 Freddy

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 12:23 PM

Hi Nic,

I would limit her food intake somewhat and just keep her ticking over.

You should be aiming to replicate summertime conditions with heat and lights.

Hope this helps. ;)

Take care.

Best wishes 

Freddy :)



#5 Kelly

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 05:16 PM

Freddy's suggestion of replicating summer conditions with regard to heat and light is sound advice.

 

When I overwintered my 5 month old hatchling last year I also only turned the lights and heat on for alternate days.... that way I halved her food intake for the winter period to ensure that she didn't put on too much weight. ;)



#6 Pickle1983

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 01:38 PM

Hi Kelly and Freddie,

Thank you both for your great advice, really appreciated.

I have given her a bath today and a limited amount of food, she's munched it all up and disappeared back to bed! Haha.

I think the alternative days sounds good too so I will do that to bring her weight down :)

Thanks again,
Nic

#7 Kelly

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 03:19 PM

Last year I kept lowered the temps (by either raising the basking light or turning it off completely) on every third day, that way they're not marching around looking for food on the non feeding days.

 

I've hated the wind down period for mine..... I always feel really cruel in that first week when the temperatures and basking light are as normal and they sit looking at you with pleading eyes for their breakfast first thing in the morning! :rofl: .



#8 Guest_Wizzasmum_*

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:41 AM

Personally, if overwintering I would replicate early autumn conditions, so less light, heat and daylight hours than usual, which will mean less weight gain (preferably none) without having too much activity. Summer conditions will increase activity and therefore the need to feed. If fed less with optimum heat and light, other problems can occur as the metabolism would be too high ;) You don't want her to be losing weight, just growing slowly with no gain for a few months. Hope this helps.






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