Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

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brummy_tort
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Joined: 24 Apr 2017, 11:41

Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

Post by brummy_tort » 20 Jan 2018, 17:50

Hi everyone its been a while

some may remember last year I attempted to hibernate my horsfield called Pastie. unfortunately after just 1 week he lost around 20g so had to abort. This year has been far more successful. Started winding down 23rd November, weight 487g.

Hibernation day was 16 December and his weight was 446g. Week 2 was 447g and week 3 449g. Occasionally heard short scraping sounds and each time he was weighed he had dug down into the soil in one particular corner and had a small amount of soil on his face and other parts which explained the extra weight. Today is day 35 or 5 weeks. Weight was again 447g so it appears he has not lost any weight at all. On previous weighing sessions his eyes have been shut and touching his feet made them wiggle. However today after brushing some soil from his shell and feet before weighing he made a hissing sound a couple of times and pulled his head in. I know the sound is the air coming out of his lungs, but he usually does that when he is spooked and awake. His front legs did move a bit too. His eyes were still shut so maybe it was just a reaction to being bought out to be weighed. Or perhaps he has had enough?

Having no experience of hibernating a tortoise this far I just want to know whether this is normal behaviour? he has never been hibernated before and I thought perhaps a period of 4-6 weeks would be sufficient. The temperature at the back of the hibe box where the probe is situated ranges from about 3.5 to 4.5 degrees and its probably half a degree warmer at the front where he prefers to be.

Its still not clear to me whether the 10% weight loss is to be taken from when winding down starts or the day he goes in the fridge. if its from when winding down started then his minimum weight would be 439g. I prefer to think that its from when they go into the fridge. Thankfully he does not seem to have lost any weight at all which is the complete opposite to what happened last year.

So howe long should I continue the hibernation? Do they occasionally do a bit of scraping whilst in the fridge during this period? What do you experts think?

sorry for all the questions, but just want to make sure I am doing everything correctly.

Nina. Just read through your reply to the post about rockos weight. did you risk putting dolly in the fridge. Talk about bad timing, just a few days before she was supposed to go in too.

Kind wishs Darren

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Nina
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Re: Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

Post by Nina » 20 Jan 2018, 18:23

Hi Darren,

Great to hear from you, and I'm so glad that Pastie has settled well into his hibernation! And it does sound like he has settled in well -- the fact that he hasn't really lost any weight is great. I wouldn't worry about the movement or the scratching around in the corner. In the wild if they are hibernating in the earth they dig down further if it gets colder and in the fridge I find that they do move around a fair amount (especially Horsfields).

The fact that he gave a hiss and pulled in sharply is a bit unusual, but not unknown -- how long was he out of the fridge for when he did that ? Pulling his legs in is fine though, and to be expected, so I wouldn't worry. The fact that his eyes were shut and he hasn't lost weight indicates that he is doing really well. I would be tempted to give him two or three weeks more, as long as weight, etc. seems good, and he hasn't properly woken up with eyes open. He should be all the better for that extra time.

Yes, I was so worried about Dolly losing all that weight in one go just before hibernation, and no explanation for it, but I did put her in on 24th November. She lost six or seven grammes in the first week and then nothing since then, and it's been 8 weeks, so I'll leave her in for another two weeks I think. I usually leave them in for 12 weeks, but I think I will take Dolly out at 10 weeks this year, just in case. It's so hard to know what is right, even if you've been doing it for years!

About how much weight can be safely lost in hibernation, it's interesting as I've just had a look and some of the advice seems to be changing. Whereas before the advice was not more than 10% over the whole period, now I am seeing groups like the British Chelonia Group and The Tortoise Trust saying that they can safely lose 1% each month that they are hibernating, but if they lose drastically more than that then you should wake them up. So I reckon that means that Pastie could have safely lost 5g in the five weeks you've had him in hibernation, and he hasn't even come close to that. Here's a link to a Tortoise Trust article on hibernation: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/n ... ation.html

Regarding duration, the Tortoise Trust is now recommending about 8 - 10 weeks for small tortoises and no more than 16 weeks for large ones (and I think Pastie would qualify as a small tortoise), so you could try him maybe on 7 weeks this time as it's his first hibernation, or if he seems to be doing really well then go for 8 weeks. Let us know you you get on.

Nina

brummy_tort
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Joined: 24 Apr 2017, 11:41

Re: Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

Post by brummy_tort » 02 Feb 2018, 12:15

Hi

Just a quick update about Pastie. As this is his first time hibernating I thought 2 months might be too long so decided to bring him out after 6 weeks.

I took him out of the fridge on Sunday morning and let him thaw for an hour before putting him in his enclosure. He very slowly walked over and sat under his lamp for an hour or so. Gave him a bath, although had to change the water as there was quite a lot of soil stuck to him. Once clean he weighed 445g which is 1g less than when he went in 6 weeks ago so I would say that's a pretty good result.

After observing him the past few days he seems back to normal and has a healthy appetite and spending most of the time under his basking lamp.

I have bathed him every day since, but he's a bit flaky on top of his head which might just be normal shedding or maybe he is still a bit dry?

anyhow very pleased and hopefully his first proper hibernation has done him some good. next time I will keep him in longer if all goes well again.

Darren.

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Nina
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Re: Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

Post by Nina » 02 Feb 2018, 12:38

Wow, that is brilliant news, and it means that now you can stop taking those antidepressants and drinking all those gin and tonics that were prescribed for the anxiety (well, maybe don't give up the G andTs) !
It sounds like he had an excellent hibernation, and I think that next year if all goes well you can keep him in for at least 8 weeks. Give him a little tickle under the chin and a 'well done' from me. The flakiness on top of the head sounds like normal shedding to me.

Nina

brummy_tort
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Re: Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

Post by brummy_tort » 02 Feb 2018, 13:59

Blimey. just weighed him after his bath and he's 498g So since coming out he has gained 52g in 5 days. urrm maybe i gave him too much food. Although only been giving him lettuce with pre Alpin ( chopped up dried weeds ) Then again he might be drinking more water during his baths? Ah well he had a good little trot around the house earlier after the bath so maybe he burned off a few grams. lol.

Darren.

peregrin
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Re: Horsfield hibernation 2nd try

Post by peregrin » 12 Mar 2018, 06:22

that is brilliant news
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