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Common Mistakes

The mistakes made by most people hibernating many years ago
(and unfortunately still a percentage today) were to either:


(1) Hibernate a tortoise that was suffering from an illness or is under weight.

Like the rest of a tortoise's metabolism the immune system also dips when hibernating.
Any slight ailment that the tortoise may have will only get worse when it hasn't got it's normal
aggressive immune system that a warm, active tortoise has.
A Hermanns tortoise who is under weight re: the 'Jacksons ratio' should not be hibernated.
An under weight tortoise  may be a sign of an undetected illness or has simply not put
on enough fat reserves to carry it over the hibernation period.

(2) Feed the tortoise just prior to hibernation.

A tortoises metabolism when in a state of hibernation is almost completely shut down,
its heartbeat slows down to virtually nil, its senses shut off and its bodily functions also
cease including digestion this is the key factor here. Any food which is therefore inside
the tortoise's gastric tract will not be digested and simply rots.
This in turn causes severe internal problems from the gasses produced from the rotting food.

(3) Hibernate at temperatures above 10*c

A tortoise has an inbuilt mechanism which tells the tortoise to wake up when
the surrounding temperature reaches 10*c. In their natural environment they will have
buried into the ground where the temperature remains a fairly constant 3 to 7*c over the
winter period, only reaching 10*c with the onset of Spring. At 10*c a chemical reaction
happens inside the tortoise a massive release of glucose from the liver glycogen is released 
and flushed into the blood stream. This gives the tortoise an initial energy boost sufficient for
it to start moving, basking and eating again. However a tortoise has only so much of
this energy boosting product available, so when in artificial hibernating situations where the
temperature is often allowed to rise to 10*c and above the tortoise will have to use up it's
supply and will be lifeless on awakening.


(4) Hibernate at temperatures that drop below 0*c

Tortoises subjected to temperatures of 0*c or below will literally freeze to death.
Even in the best cases the tortoise will end up being blind due to the fluid in the eyes freezing.

(5) Not offer protection against predators

Tortoises hibernated in flimsy cardboard boxes and placed in sheds or outbuildings or
when left to hibernate naturally outside were often subjected to rodent attacks.