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Help Are My Torts Trying To Hibernate?


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#1 Blegge

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 10:35 AM

Hi. I am new to forum. I have 2 lovely wee hermanns. Phoebe is 12 months 5.3cm and 34.5g Tiny is 13 months 5.5cm and 30g. They live in an indoor enclosure with topsoil as substrate, rocks to wander, a hide and a separate basking area with a heat lamp and separate uv light. I plan to get them mainly outdoors in Spring tho living in Scotland temps will dictate I'm sure. I got them from a Breeder in April this year mand decided to over Winter them for their 1st year with me so that i could monitor weights and gain confidence in their care. Since they've slowed down I have been waking them and putting them in warm baths every day where they sit for approx 10 mins and I offer them fresh food. Weeds are a problem for me just now so it's florettte salad they get. They eat very little and not every day Typically they come out of the bath and either eat very little or nothing at all, then they have a very slow wander and are back burying down within the hour If I don't get them up they'll stay there till I dig them up the next day. Should I wind them down and hibernate properl or is it too late? im very n rooms about hibernation.Thanks in advance for your advice. Brenda

#2 gizmosmum

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 03:42 PM

There's another post ( hatchling out of fridge)on this thread from someone who's hibernated a little one and some replies that may help you.

#3 Blegge

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 05:51 PM

Thank you. It certain,y looks like I could go ahead and hibernate. Is it ok advice on their thread? I haven't done any research as I really hadn't planned to do it this year but want to do what's best for the torts. B

#4 wizzasmum

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 07:03 PM

If your breeder has had no problems and suggests it, then a short hibernation might be the way to go. Having said that, looking at your tortoises weights, it would seem that the bigger one is actually lighter, so unless it is also flatter, then this would not be a good idea. Do you have any pics and has the breeder given you a back up plan or advice?

#5 Blegge

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 08:13 PM

Hi Sue. Thanks for your response. Phoebe is the younger tort and while she is not as long her shell is higher than Tiny's. She has always been the hungrier and more active of the two. I asked my breeder for advice and he told me to keep doing what I am but that was 2 months ago and both torts were happy to bask and stay awake for a few hours a day, now they clearly want to keep underground. I have uploaded some pics I took today. Do you need me to take closer ones? I have looked at the post recommended earlier and am feeling happier about hibernation I think I'll do an 18 day wind down in four stages as advised here on this site. However the torts are already acting like stage 3 (need dug out daily) but because they've been eating periodically I think I need to do the full 18 days. I calculate they'll go down on10th January. We have a suitable fridge. Does that sound ok? Thanks again Brenda

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#6 wizzasmum

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 11:44 PM

Do they always drink a lot Brenda? It's just one of them has a different shell structure to the other, or it might be the pics. You will need to monitor temps in the fridge and make sure it's not one with a freezer box at the top. Monitor the torts weights carefully too during wind down. Make sure that they feel like rocks rather than shells i.e. surprisingly heavy for their size. If they feel light then don't hibernate.

#7 Blegge

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 12:02 AM

Hi Sue. One of the torts has a split (Visual only) on her shell which , other than size, is the only way I can tell them apart. They are both from same parents. I'm not actually sure how much they drink. They both sit in bath for 10 to 15 mins each day but I can'tjudge what they take in. They don't pass a lot either just now. But they're eating very little so I wasn't worried. I'm now worried that it's the wrong thing to do and I get it wrong but I feel awful digging them out each day when they clearly don't want to be up and about. I'm worried they'll have no energy come spring but I'm equally happy to carry on if this is best for them. I'm sure after a few years this will all come easily but right now it's very worrying. My fridge is a larder type with no ice box and I'll make sure it's stable at 5 deg c before I use it. I'll follow the advice here to the letter. I now need to research their weights - should I weigh them daily just now and for the 18 day wind down? Thanks so much for your help. Brenda

#8 gizmosmum

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 07:55 AM

The page on this forum is the clearest guidelines I've seen, tortoise protection group info is also worth reading.
http://www.tortoise-....uk/site/78.asp .

#9 Blegge

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 08:26 AM

Thanks so much. I'm in my way to work but will do more research later. Very much appreciated x

#10 wizzasmum

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 12:58 PM

The page on this forum is the clearest guidelines I've seen, tortoise protection group info is also worth reading. http://www.tortoise-....uk/site/78.asp .


Just looked at that TPG info again and that's the second time I've seen a five day week referred to. This can be misleading (it certainly was with me lol) after all a week is a week, which is seven days. It would do better to say sections rather than weeks to avoid people winding down for too long. JMHO of course!

#11 gizmosmum

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 05:05 PM

Just looked at that TPG info again and that's the second time I've seen a five day week referred to. This can be misleading (it certainly was with me lol) after all a week is a week, which is seven days. It would do better to say sections rather than weeks to avoid people winding down for too long. JMHO of course!


That's why i think the chart on this site makes it clearer, its set out in stages. But a bit of additional info on tpg.

#12 Blegge

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 09:45 AM

Yes I've worked out a plan based on this site (5 day weeks) but am reading both to get as much info as I can. Today I dug the torts out and they had 8 & 10 minute soaks in warm water before climbing out. I put them under the heat lamp but they both tottered off to the opposite end of the enclosure and were buried down within 40 to 50 mins of being up. I'll repeat the process later today just to ensure they're getting hydrated. This is day 2 with no food. I am slightly worried their body temps aren't getting high enough to process any food that's still in their tummies. Also can I really keep digging them up like this until 10th Jan which is date to hibernate based on the plan. Also the advice is to fully check their eyes and ears but my wee torts are so small I find this too difficult. Poor wee vulnerable torts. They just want to sleep. And I just want to make sure they do so safely. Xx. Thanks so much for all of your advice. Xx

#13 Blegge

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 10:08 AM

Hi I've just retread the Tpg and if recommends juveniles under 35g at start of wind down should be over wintered but hatchlings over 35g should follow a 2 week (I assume 10 day) wind down which I think considering how slow they are would be more appropriate for my 2. Given that my two are juveniles were around the 35 g at start ( they both weighted 32g today so I'm thinking measurement error for phoebe's starting weight I will check again when I wake them later) that a 2 week wind down would be correct. They both feel solid ( not like empty shells). What do you think? B

#14 wizzasmum

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 06:48 PM

Hi I've just retread the Tpg and if recommends juveniles under 35g at start of wind down should be over wintered but hatchlings over 35g should follow a 2 week (I assume 10 day) wind down which I think considering how slow they are would be more appropriate for my 2. Given that my two are juveniles were around the 35 g at start ( they both weighted 32g today so I'm thinking measurement error for phoebe's starting weight I will check again when I wake them later) that a 2 week wind down would be correct. They both feel solid ( not like empty shells). What do you think? B


This is why the five day week idea is so worrying. Ten days is certainly not enough. If you are having to dig your torts up each day then this is not a good wind down. My own advice would be to remove some substrate and any hides so that your tortoises cannot dig down. I would then keep them on a normal feeding regime for this winter. High temps in the day dropping to as low as possible for indoors overnight. It's very possible that they are not in the best of health and I would not like to give the advice to hibernate this year for that reason alone. How much weight have they gained since you had them in April?

#15 Blegge

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 11:53 PM

Hi Sue they were 17g and 18 g when I got them. They've steadily grown and have lovely smooth shells. Until about 8 weeks ago they were both really lively, I have tried to keep them up but they just go and dig down I guess the only way to stop that would be to remove the depth of the soil and their hide too. I've had no concerns about their general health as when they started to slow w down I contacted my breeder with lots of photos and qu stolons and he advised that all was normal. I'll get in touch with him again. Bx

#16 wizzasmum

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 06:37 PM

Wow, that's incredibly small to sell babies! The weight gain has been good. At the end of the day it has to be your choice, we can only advise cautiously.

#17 Blegge

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 07:28 PM

I've totally taken your advice Sue. I've removed all of their hides and reduced the soil to about 1cm depth. I bathed them and put food out again and they've both eaten a small amount. They've been the most active I've seen them for weeks and have pounded round the enclosure clearly looking for their house -awhihh. I am so much happier and hopefully will successfully get them through the winter now. Although I do feel awful for removing they're favourite places. I'll keep you informed as we go. Thanks again it's been so good having you to turn to. Brenda x

#18 wizzasmum

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 10:43 PM

It might be that as they adapt to winter life, you will be able to re-add some soil. Just play it by ear, but don't let them get stressed. If they won't adapt it might be a good idea to let them dig in in the New Year and let them do their own thing for a couple of weeks, then introduce lots of bright light and heat and see if they react as though they've been in hibernation, it sometimes works. You would have to water the substrate though and keep their weight static Ti simulate hibernation growth.

#19 Blegge

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 10:58 PM

Gosh it's all so complicated. Let's hope they settle. Xx

#20 wizzasmum

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 12:01 AM

Just try to think of what they would do in the wild, it becomes clearer lol




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