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Help Please - Worries About Hibernation....


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#1 Jon

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 06:53 AM

Hi all,

I hope you can help and sorry for posting something that may seem so basic, but....

We are about to (or trying) hibernate our two Hermanns for 'our' first time. They are 15 and 13 and have been hibernated before (the box method) but we've only inherited them this spring so I'm a little nervous about the proceedings.

We were intending to follow the box method and have observed their natural wind down (they are kept outside in a wild flower meadow) and recently they appeared to begin a natural hibernation by both burying down and becoming inactive both day and night.

This was a little surprising as daytime temperatures are still well in excess of 10c, but due to the rain and wet soil I decided I should box them last weekend. I've used play sand and top soil hoping that they'd just bury down again and the box is kept outside under cover.

However, when moved neither of them were hibernating fully and both opened eyes, and now they're boxed I can hear them (or at least one) moving and scratching around - is this normal?

Should I leave them and expect them to settle? Get them out and put them back outside until the weather cools?

Any advice or guidance anyone could give would be greatly appreciated.

With many thanks
Jon

#2 wizzasmum

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 08:52 AM

This is how I do mine John www.tortsmad.com/hibernation.htm I have just dug some of mine up from the greenhouse and put them into their hibernation area for winter. They don't go to sleep immediately as the metabolism takes time to wind down. We need to know more about what your regime has been re wind down, as to hibernate them with food in the gut can be dangerous. Off to work but back later

#3 Jon

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 11:04 AM

Hi Sue,

Thanks for the quick response.

I know I probably shouldn't say this, but there hasn't really been a wind down regime, they live outside in a species rich wild flower meadow so typically graze on whatever they want, with the occasion supplement/treat.

Some time ago we noticed that they had stopped eating, well at least noticeably, and since then when they buried down we have assumed that they were ready as I guess that they were the best to know when was the right time?

How long you would expect it to take for them to settle once boxed and does it matter that the outside temperature is still pushing 15c in the day times which is forecast to continue for at least another week? I'm worried that if they don't settle they'll be using up their fat reserves.

many thanks
Jon

#4 wizzasmum

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 01:08 PM

It's difficult as many owners follow this regime and while it's infinitely better than some that are recommended, the UK doesn't have the correct temps at the end of the season, or the entire die back of vegetation in the Med. to ensure a good wind down. In the Med vegetation is gone by this stage. Do you keep weight records to check weight loss while they have been slowing down as this is crucial to make sure they are empty when winding down outdoors? Unless you know the week they stopped eating completely, it's not possible to say if there is still food in the stomach, which could ferment and kill them if they were to go straight into hibernation with no wind down period. Is the meadow still producing feed, presumably it is? In a way, they will know when the time is right as you say, but with the different food availability, it could also be that fine line between surviving or not. What did the previous owner do? Do these tortoises resemble wild ones in shell development and weight for age?
It can take up to a month or more to settle and given the temps we are getting recently, this will help the gut to empty. This is why short hibernation so of a month or so are no good. Even when underground they are moving, we just don't see it. Are they in soil right now? One thing you must do is to weigh them and record weight each month. Do you have any photos of them? This will help to show if they are typically grown and therefore a guide to their suitability to hibernate.
Sorry for all the questions, just trying to build a picture ;)

#5 Jon

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 02:42 PM

Firstly, yes there is still food substance in the meadow but I'd say they tortoises have been inactive for at least 3 weeks.

The previous owner was my sister and her hibernation process was very 'relaxed' in that she boxed them late October put them in the garage and got them out again in spring - simple as that.

No, I haven't been weighing neither do I have pics. One was started off indoors on pellets and the other has been outdoors from the off and their shell shapes reflect this - the first has signs of rapid growth early on.......

Yes, they are in soil now - in separate shoe boxes half filled with sand and top soil with some shredded paper on top, inside a bigger insulated box.

I hope this helps....

#6 Jon

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 04:57 PM

Hello again, a slight development since my previous post. I've checked on them tonight and both shoe boxes have become soggy as a result of the soil and both tortoises are awake and negotiated their way outside the inner boxes into the bigger insulated box.

So, I've put them back into their outdoor enclosure whilst I reflect on the options and the best thing to do.

Another new clueless owner in a flap!

#7 wizzasmum

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 05:19 PM

Lol, soil does need to be put into plastic boxes with air holes. Good job they weren't horsfields or they would likely have gone through both boxes. Where are you storing your hibernation boxes? Don't forget to weigh them. Bear in mind too that once they are actually in hibernation, they shouldn't be disturbed too much as if they wake they can't go back down due to loss of glycogen. Do be careful with sand as it can cause eye problems, otherwise sounds as though you are on the right track.




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