Hermann tortoise , Information, Care , Hibernation, Hatchlings for sale
 


When and How to Hibernate your Tortoise


When  to hibernate.

I hibernate my adult Hermann's tortoises from December until early April
(if April looks like being a cold month I leave them until mid April).
I start to wind down my adults in November.
I would aim to end hibernation with younger tortoises around March / April so young tortoises need to be kept in their indoor enclosure with full heat and light until you begin your wind down.
This is where the fridge method of hibernating is best because you have complete control of
when you start and when you finish.
I make the decision to hibernate my adult tortoises in August .
I weigh them and record if they are a healthy weight (re:Jackson ratio) to hibernate.
If they have had no health problems over the year then they are OK to consider hibernation.
I do this first check in August because tortoises are at their peak.
More checks are needed prior to hibernation if your tortoise is ill do not hibernate.
In September and early October you will find that your tortoise is eating less so they can
lose a little weight over these months thus making them appear a little light re: Jacksons ratio.
If you are hibernating for 8 weeks January and February are the coldest months and the
hardest to find weeds so these are ideal for hibernation.



Hibernation Method.


I use and strongly recommend Hibernating your Hermann's tortoise in a domestic fridge.
A domestic fridge can keep a steady temperature of around 5*c.
It sounds shocking but you will have complete control (with careful planning) over the hibernation conditions thereforeallowing your tortoise to have a natural sleep without the risks that our UK weather can throwat them.
The weather in the UK is too unpredictable we can have days in February where the temperature can rise well above 10*c. 
Lots of tortoise keepers are using this method now with great results.
The ideal fridge to use is a larder fridge (one without a freezer compartment)
The most important thing is to be sure that the fridge temperatures are stable.
This can only be assured with careful monitoring. Be aware that a fridge in an outbuilding
that is subjected to varying temperatures is likely to reflect those changing temperatures inside
the fridge eventually.
So protection will be needed to prevent a outbuilding from going to cold.
Maybe with a frost guard heater.
Once you have decided where to place your fridge it's time to monitor the inside of it where the tortoise will be.
This is done using a max/min thermometers with probes.
Measure the temperature in different places inside the fridge because it will vary,
and you will need to find the ideal spot for your tortoise (5*c).
A empty fridge will not be as stable in temperature as a full one and therefore adding lots of mass will help keep the readings stable (see middle photo below. The plastic bottles filled with water).
While you are monitoring temperatures it's a good idea to place the hibernation box inside to
mimic the time when your tortoise is in there.
Once you add things to the fridge, the temperatures will rise and take a while to fall and settle again so the trial run needs to be as near to the real thing as possible.
During the trial run, adjust the fridge thermostat
(dial with numbers usually going from 1-6, The higher the number, the colder the temperatures)
As you adjust the dial, the fridge will take some time to settle and stabilise (as much as 48 hours)
and this is why plenty of forward planning is needed.
You can use various things to house the
tortoise inside the fridge. I use a cardboard box (shoe box) with air holes.
You could use something more sturdy such as a wooden box.
I have even seen tortoises placed on newspaper directly on the shelves.
Tortoises are more comfortable with something to dig/bury into.
A sand/soil mixture can be used. I use shredded paper. Newspaper is softer.
I then use the max/min thermometer with the probe in the box with the tortoise.
You can see in the photo below the thermometers are placed on top of  the fridge so they can be read.




  
Click to enlarge