The Winding Down Period
As already mentioned, no food should be left in the stomach
of a tortoise when put into hibernation.
To make sure that your tortoise's
stomach is completely empty a starvation of the tortoise prior
to hibernation is
essential. The starvation period and hibernation length will vary
depending of the age
of your tortoise.
I would not hibernate a hatchling for more than 8 weeks and I
would not hibernate a adult
more than 20 weeks. The hibernation lengths below
are a guide.
If everything is going well with the hibernation and the tortoise
has not lost too much
weight then you could leave him for a little longer.
is the good thing about fridge hibernation YOU are in control.
|Age||Starvation / wind down||Hibernation length|
|Hatchlings 1st winter||14 days||Max 8 weeks|
|2nd winter||18 days||8 weeks|
|3rd winter||20 days||8 weeks|
|4th winter||22 days||12 weeks|
|5 years||26 days||16 weeks|
|6 years +||28 days||Max 20 weeks|
The tortoise is to be given NO food during any stage of the
wind down period.
It is very important that they are given ample opportunity to
drink and are kept fully hydrated.
Bath your tortoise every other day which as
well as hydrating your tortoise it will also
encourage it to empty it's bowels.
I do recommend bathing 1 -3 year old tortoises every day. The wind down period should be split into 4 stages.
At the beginning of the wind down tortoises need to have day
length and temperatures
that are the approximately the same as summertime. This
will keep their digestive system
working fully and therefore pass any recently
eaten food through their system.
You may find that your tortoise is slightly
slower than they were in the summer.
You must keep temperatures the same as stage 1 but in lesser
Therefore you should be turning the heat/UV lamps on a little
later in the morning and off a
little earlier in the evening. This will
simulate their shorter day lengths in the wild.
Towards the end of stage 2 make
the the daylight shorter still making it a gradual process.
By stage 3, you will find that your tortoise is coming out
from his hiding place less and less.
You can now leave the the basking lights
off and just have background heat available using a
frost guard heater or a
tubular heater if in a outbuilding or your central heating if its in your house.
During the beginning of stage 4, any background heating
should be turned down to a bare minimum.
You will probably find that your
tortoise is not coming out at all now and is inactive.
Towards the end of this
stage, give your tortoise its final bath (not warm enough to stimulate
tortoise) and make sure he is thoroughly dried. Place the tortoise in the box
using for hibernating. Then place the box in a cool place such as an
unheated room or a safe
outbuilding which will more closely match the fridge
temperature (as long as your tortoise isn't
passing anything in his bath water)
your tortoise should be ready to go into the fridge.
Make sure you weigh and
make a note of your tortoises weight before it goes into hibernation.
|Age of tortoise||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3||Stage 4|
|Hatchlings 1st winter||4 days||4 days||4 days||2 days|
|2nd winter||5 days||5 days||5 days||3 days|
|3rd winter||5 days||5 days||5 days||5 days|
|4th winter||6 days||6 days||6 days||4 days|
|5 years||7 days||7 days||6 days||6 days|
|6 years +||7 days||7 days||7 days||7 days|