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Conflicting Hibernation Advice - Help Needed

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#1 Hellymack

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 07:30 PM

Hello all

 

I have an 8 year old male hermann's called George - this will be his 3rd hibernation with me as we adopted him in april 2013 and I need some help.

 

George sustained some superficial shell damage after a dog attack in may this year (immediate vet treatment was sought and he responded well) so in preparation for hibernation I took him back to the specialist reptile vet for reassurance - he said that his shell has healed well and he is in great health so can be hibernated.

 

I use the box method and monitor the temps meticulously - the temps are sustained between 4 to 9 degrees

 

In his 1st hibernation in 2013 he only lost 4g in weight in 19 weeks (318g down to 314g)

In his 2nd hibernation in 2014 he only lost 1 g in weight in 20 weeks (349g down to 348g)

 

I had planned to hibernate him for 20 weeks again - this is always so long as his weight is sustained, no sign of urination, and with weekly checks to monitor weight and health.

 

Due to shell damage I cannot get an accurate length measurement as the front of his shell was nibbled so he is a couple of mm shorter than he should be but his weight was 416g and I guestimated that he would have been 121 mm (he was 119 mm after hibernation in April this year) which puts him in the healthy range for hibernation.

 

So I'm ready to hibernate from early Nov using heat lamp to keep him going for a few more weeks - George has dug down 4 times now and I have had to dig him back up as it's too early but my concern is the vet's advice - he said that hibernation should only be for 12 weeks for a tort of this size/age and that he should only ever go up to 16 weeks once he is fully grown at around 15 years of age - the vet said it is very old fashioned advice to go for 20 weeks and we should keep them based on more recent scientific evidence (he keeps hermanns himself) so I have done some research myself and the tortoise trust have refreshed their advice and they are also saying 16 weeks on their website.

 

I wanted to get the views of other hermanns keepers before I make my final decision on how we proceed - so advice please if you can help

 

Thanks

 

Helen



#2 Hellymack

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 07:07 PM

It's very quiet round here... can anyone help me with my query?



#3 wizzasmum

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 07:50 PM

Who is your vet? This is how I have done mine for the past thirty years and I've not lost one yet. www.tortsmad.com/hibernation.htm 20 weeks is a long time if they have not been wound down correctly, but if a tortoise goes underground without warning, it will be down even longer with no ill effects. I had one go down for six months ( not a good idea) and came back the same weight and with no ill effects. The key is hydration and to monitor weight loss and temps which rarely happened years ago, when a high percentage died. As George is under 400 grams I would stick to the 16 week guide which falls in line with wild tortoises.

#4 Hellymack

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 06:27 AM

Thanks for help - I will re plan for 16 weeks - George has a purpose built double insulated box which is placed in the garage and temps monitored - they are pretty stable ( 4-7 degrees) and only need the occasional ice block adding on the odd warmer day (if temps reach 9 degrees).

 

I use sterilised topsoil which is lightly watered before hibernation and then i just judge it on a week by week basis and add a bit of water if it looks dry but I make sure its not wet as dont want a soggy tort as it would not be great for his skin or shell.

 

I take wind down very seriously as I know that it is important so will keep temps up for the next week and then begin wind down ready for going into the box around bonfire night and monitor weekly and then aim to wake him around 26th Feb and then keep him inside until tort friendly weather returns next year

 

Feel a bit happier now  :) as it is important to me that I give George the best life he can have in captivity







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