Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

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Khan’s Ma
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Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Khan’s Ma » 30 Sep 2020, 18:41

Hi there,

Knowing nothing about tortoises, I rescued a little Horsfield a few months ago. I was told he was two and a half, but the vet thinks he’s between five and eight! He’s got a bit of pyramiding, and had worms and nematodes, and was a bit malnourished when I got him. He’s now had a six week regime of worming, and is palpably stronger.

However, I’m still quite concerned about him. His appetite seems poor, and he appears lethargic. He’s 9.5cm long, and I weigh him weekly, and his weight fluctuates between 285-302g.

He only seems to eat when I entice him. I try to feed him as much good stuff and as little of the mediocre stuff as possible! He’ll eat sow-thistle, and various other flowers such as wild rocket occasionally (he goes off different foods very quickly), and sometimes dandelion leaves. He won’t eat plantains or other wild leaves at all.

I did wonder if his apparent fussiness might be to do with what his former owners gave him: he will eat romaine and radicchio lettuce fairly happily, but I understand they don’t have much nutritional value, so I don’t give them often. I know they also gave him broccoli, which I, of course, don’t. However, when I asked about his appetite, they told me that he often seemed to refuse food.

In terms of husbandry, he has an open tortoise table, 6x3 foot, with a mixture of coconut coir, organic top soil, and organic orchid bark. He has a combination bulb as well as and UVB bulb. Temperatures go from 35.7c on his basking rock, through 24.5 to, finally, 21.5 in his ‘private bedroom.’ There’s a hide in the hot corner by the basking rock, and one halfway down the table. There’s also plenty of safe plants, other rocks and a varied topography.

He spends most of his time buried in one of his hides or bedroom, and rarely does much exploration

What can I do to encourage him to eat more and exercise more? Obviously, it’s now autumn and we should be preparing for brumation, but I’m worried he’s too weak.

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 30 Sep 2020, 21:19

Hi Khan's Ma,

Welcome to The Tortoise Table, and congratulations on welcoming this little Horsfield into your family. I must say that from what you have described, I think you've made a lovely home for him.

I can't think of many improvements, except that 35.7 is really a bit too warm, and it is possible (although it's not highly likely) that this is causing some lethargy. Are you measuring the temperature directly under the lamp and at the height of his shell? I would try and get the temperature there down to about 30C (maybe 32C tops), and you can do this by raising the lamp a bit. Having said that, with colder temperatures coming in, the temperaturer will probably drop a bit anyway, as the room temperature has a big effect on the temperature in the table. 21.5 in the coolest area is fine, and you don't want any heat on at night.

The most likely cause of his lethargy and lack of appetite is the fact that it's coming up for hibernation time. You are correct to use the term 'brumation' because that is what they do, rather than true hibernation, but so many people refer to hibernation that we now do so as well. Horsfields have a particularly strong instinct to hibernate. Everyone is writing to us now to say that their tortoises don't want to eat or wake up in the morning, and my own Horsfields are not waking up at all in the morning, although if I wake them up and put them under the lamp they will still eat (but I know that many won't).

However, I don't think you should hibernate him this winter. Worming treatment knocks out a lot of the gut flora, and it's never wise to hibernate within several months of a tortoise being wormed, but also we recommend that you have a tortoise for about a year before hibernating, because you need to get to know him well enough to spot if he is a bit off colour, as it is really important that tortoises are in the best of health before hibernating.

So, you will need to try and over winter him (which can be a bit of a challenge). Basically you want to fool him into thinking that it is a bright summer's day. Here's a link to our article on overwintering; https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... 3TlGe3TW9s Have a read of it and see if there is anything that helps, and do come back with any questions.

I would definitely wake him up in the morning and put him under the lamp, and do that a couple of more times if he goes back to bed. Enticing him with favourite foods is good, and you can introduce new food by wetting his favourite foods, cutting up the new food into tiny pieces and sprinkling a little of it on the favourite food, so that when he goes for the stuff he likes he'll get some of the new food too. Then you can gradually increase the amount of new food.

Your set-up sounds good to me, and 6' x 3' is a good sized table. if you'd like to send in a photo of your table, we can maybe suggest a few tweaks that might make it more interesting in order to encourage him to stay awake. Tortoises do get bored if they can see from one end of the table to the other without interruption, so rocks, logs, and things to walk over, under and around can help. If the sides of your table are high enough you could even think about putting in a ramp up to a second level (mine have an upper level and they are always running up and down the ramp just to see if there is a treat for them 'upstairs'!).

Also, do bathe him several times a week, in warm water that comes up to his chin, in a container that he can't see out of, for 15 - 20 minutes, and that will ensure he stays well hydrated.

Hopefully you'll be able to get him going again, and staying awake this winter, and then next year he can have a proper hibernation (by the way, we have good guides to preparing for hibernation and various methods of hibernation, so whenever you are ready let us know and we'll send them along). In the meantime, here's a link to a care sheet for Horsfields: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Nina

Khan’s Ma
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Khan’s Ma » 30 Sep 2020, 21:56

Thank you, Nina, for such a long, well thought out answer! I really am very grateful, and Khan will be, too, although he doesn’t know it. I will study the care sheets and make the changes you suggest :)

Marsha

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 30 Sep 2020, 22:05

Glad to be of help, Marsha (and sorry for the typos in my post -- I've just corrected some, as I was typing quickly and didn't proof-read it). Please feel free to ask any questions -- that's what we're here for. Love the name Khan, by the way! If you can send a photo of the table, that would be great, because it's amazing how much the tiniest changes can sometimes make a difference.

Nina

Khan’s Ma
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Khan’s Ma » 08 Nov 2020, 18:13

Hi again Nina and everyone,

Since my original post, I have been following your advice on how to encourage Khan to eat the right stuff, and also getting creative in different ways. The result is that he has put on a good 10g, sometimes eats with minimal encouragement, is still awake and a bit more lively, all of which make me very happy :)

But I’ve got a few more questions...

First, I’ve been using Matsuri soaked in water to disguise various foods, so it’s not the main ingredient, but he is getting quite a lot of it - is that OK or does it have anything untoward in it?

Is it possible to over feed him? How would I know?

Have you ever heard of a tortoise who was just not very good at eating? What might cause it? Khan regularly goes to have a bite of something and completely misses, repeatedly.

I keep looking at his poor, deformed shell, with its deep grooves, and wondering if it’s painful, and if there’s such a thing as moisturiser for shells?

Lastly, as you suggested, Nina, I’m including pictures of the latest iteration of his tortarium (I’m coining a new word here). I do change positions of plants and caves from time to time. I believe that as tortoises get bored easily, and evolved to occupy large territories, they must appreciate a bit of a rearrangement. However, my partner argues that it might be confusing and anxiety-provoking. Can you settle this dispute? And make any other suggestions about the environment?
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Khan’s Ma
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Khan’s Ma » 08 Nov 2020, 18:25

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I had some issues uploading photos earlier, so here are some more...
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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 08 Nov 2020, 19:16

Hi Marsha,

Great to hear from you and thanks so much for the photos! Your set-up looks really good -- lots of interest for him. At the risk of causing a domestic dispute in your household, my opinion is that it is good to keep moving the 'furniture' in his tortarium (love that name) around. I think it provides some stimulation.

I can't think of anything that you should change in your tortarium, but if you want to be a bit adventurous you could build a ramp for him to climb up to a second level. I always have a ramp in my tables and my tortoise love running up and down it to see if there are any treats on top for them. You just need a ramp, covered with something like roofing felt (that sandpaper like stuff that they cover sheds wtih), and a little board on legs at the top that gives him an area to walk up to. You don't want it to be too big, because obviously the area underneath the top level is in shade. It can be used for sleeping, but torts don't need big areas to sleep in so if it's too big than that area underneath is wasted. It's just a thought, and not at all necessary. (I've attached a photo of one of mine at the top of the ramp about to walk down.

Regarding his eating. If he is regularly going for some food and missing it completely, it's possible that he has a problem with his eyesight, or is blind in one eye -- but that isn't really a long-term problem and I know if several tortoises who are blind and can mangage in captivity quite well. Lol, or he might just be a bit clumsy :D

Regarding the Mazuri -- it's not our food of choice, but we do know people who use it fairly successfully. I think that if you are just using a small amount of it to entice him to eat then that's not a problem. Regarding the amount he eats and the weight he puts on -- yes it is definitely possible to over feed him, and Horsfields have a particular problem in that respect. In the wild they tend to live in areas with long cold winters (during which they hibernate/brumate), and long hot summers when they aestivate. It's estimated that in the wild they are therefore only awake for about three months in the year, and only eat for about 20 hours during that time.

So they are sort of programmed to eat like there is going to be no tomorrow, and in captivity we have to monitor their growth to prevent shell deformities and other problems. The easiest way to do that is to monitor his growth by keeping regular records (which you probably already do), and aim for growth of between 1g - 3g or 4g per month on average (that's only an average and some months he will grow more and some less), but in that way his subsequent shell growth should be smooth and the 'bumps' he had will be hardly noticable. You can use some guidelines on amount to feed (as much as he can eat in 20 minutes, once a day; or enough leaves and flowers to make a little jacket to cover his shell, but the best way is to monitor weight gain. If you send me an email with your address ( to nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk ) I'll pop a complimentary copy of our Tortoise Observation Records booklet in the post to you, as that will help with keeping records for Khan.

Cheers,
Nina
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winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 19 Nov 2020, 17:03

Hi there,

I'm replying to your post about Khan as my question is related to yours so apologies for piggy-backing in on your post(!)

I'm new to the forum and am also a new tort mom, having rescued a Horsfield in July this year - I have a couple of questions about brumation that I could also really do with some advice on :)

Not long after adopting Winston, I found a reptile specialist vet near me as I thought it would be a good idea to take him in for a check-up to make sure he was healthy. Despite his previous owners having fed him a diet exclusively of Kale, along with occasional tortoise pellets and him having a VERY small vivarium enclosure, the vet said he is in really good health. The only thing she did other than giving him a clean bill of health was give him some worming medicine when I brought him in to her as he was spending time outdoors this summer. He had a tiny bit of pyramiding when I got him but it's smoothed out a bit as he's grown. I've just measured him again and he's now 16.5cm (shell length), and I weigh him every month and he's currently at 499 grams.

I spoke to the vet about brumation for this year and even went back to her to give him a brumation check-up about a month ago and she's assured me he's okay to do it this year. I'm also keen to do this as I feel it's probably best for him as I live in the UK. I'm just nervous as I'm a first time 'mom' and it'll be his first time brumating as well!

I've read the sheet on brumation which was really helpful in terms of wind down, refrigerator use etc. What I wanted to know is, is in terms of food is it best to taper down the feeding amount gradually leading up to when he starts to fast? He has a soak every day and does his business in the bath (poops every day and always does a wee with a decent uric acid deposit). It's part of his daily routine he's very used to, and I read about gradually cooling the soaking water as he leads up to brumation - question is, when I soak him just before he goes to 'sleep', won't he end up doing a big wee when he's brumating? Isn't this bad?

Apologies for the long winded post... and thanks in advance for any advice! :)

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 19 Nov 2020, 18:17

Hi, and welcome to The Tortoise Table. And many congratulations on rescuing this little Horsfield and giving him a good home!

Normally we wouldn't recommend brumating in the first year, because it's important to get to know your tortoise, so that you can spot if he is off colour in any way, but as you have had him checked out by a vet then I think it is probably OK. It is always a nerve-wracking time, and we will help you as much as we can.

Regarding cutting down on food gradually before he enters wind down, it is probably what would happen in the wild -- the days will be getting shorter and cooler and the tortoise will eat less, but I think most of us just feed as normal until the day we designate as the start of winding down and then stop food altogether. During the winding down period -- and for a tortoise of Winston's weight it is probably just about three weeks or a day or two more than that -- no food is given (but regular soaks are), and the hours of heat and light are gradually diminished until for the last few days there is no heat or light and the tortoise is in a dark room, preferably with the window open, so that he is cooled right down before going into the fridge.

Towards the end of wind down I would use just tepid or slightly cool water -- if it is too cold the tortoise's systems won't function and he probably won't drink. It's really important that a tortoise goes into brumation with an empty stomach but a full bladder, so that is why we soak them right up until the end. Most tortoises go through the whole of their brumation without weeing, and they are able to utilise the water in their bladder to keep from dehydrating. Occasionally a tortoise will wee in brumation, and if this happens you need to wake him up, because he will be in danger of dehydrating. As I said, usually it goes OK, but occasionally not. One of mine had a huge wee the night before she was due to go into the fridge, and I had a very anxious time desperately trying to get water into her. I did manage, but I gave her a slightly shorter brumation because I wasn't sure how much I managed to coax her to drink.

I've attached a template that someone on the forum has made for their winding down procedure, in case you find it useful. I always have a sheet to record the wind down, and I fill in the hours of heat and light in advance so that I have a schedule to work to, and I can also record weight loss during that period. I'm not sure it will come out as full size, but hopefully you can get an idea. I can also send you other guides to winding down and fridge hibernation if you want them.

Nina
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winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 23 Nov 2020, 10:05

Hi Nina,

Thanks so much :)

Any and all advice is very much appreciated so thank you very much for the Wind Down Template, I will definitely use it! Also, if you could send through the guides that would be fab. I did have a look at The Tortoise Trust guide to brumation, but reading the ones you recommend in addition to this would be really helpful.

I had two additional questions which I forgot to ask in my previous post -

1) My vet had recommended weighing Winston once a week once he's in brumation to monitor him. I also suppose that in doing this I'll be able to check if he's had a wee as well. What happens if when I'm weighing him, he wakes up? I worry that taking him out to do this might disturb him?

2) The substrate I use for his enclosure is fine grade Orchid Bark, is this OK to use for his brumation box? Or would you recommend an alternative?

Thanks again for your help :)

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 23 Nov 2020, 11:49

Hi again (sorry, don't know your name),

Really glad to help, and here are links to the sheets I was talking about (they use the term 'hibernation' as that is what is commonly used, but you are right to refer to it more accurately as 'brumation'. Lin has very kindly turned the .pdfs into url links that I can give you (for some reason I can't do that with my system, so here they are:
Preparing for hibernation: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... cedure.pdf
Fridge hibernation: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... Sept16.pdf
Box hibernation: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... OV2016.pdf
Waking up from hibernation: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 080608.pdf

To answer your first question. I don't think you need to weigh him once a week, but you can if you want. I try to minimize any disturbance, so I only weigh mine every 3 or 4 weeks, and I would wait a good two weeks before the first weighing, so that he has settled properly into brumation. Also, Horsfields are notorious for taking a long time to settle (I do remember once opening the fridge door to weigh one of mine after two weeks and there she was, eyes open, staring at me -- very unsettling). So I would give it a good two weeks and if her eyes are closed and she seems settled (don't worry if she has changed position within the box, as they do move about a bit throughout brumation). Then try and ensure that the room is dimly lit and weigh her as quickly as possible and put her straight back. If she is properly brumating she won't wake up at all -- it takes more that a minute or two for them to wake up, so there should be no problem.

Substrate. I actually don't know much about orchard bark. We tend not to recommend bark as a substrate in the tortoise table on the offchance that it could go mouldy if damp, but I do know that many keepers use it successfully. My view is that for a Horsfield, a topsoil/playsand substrate is best, because they are a burrowing species and that most approximates what they live on the wild. In the tortoise table enclosure we use ordinary sterilised topsoil, mixed with children's play sand, either 50/50, or many prefer a higher soil content, so maybe 60/40 or 70/30. It is cheap and you can buy bags at any garden centre or places like Homebase. And then you spray it every day or two to keep it from getting dusty. And make it as deep as possible so that he can burrow down and completely bury himself if he wants to.

In the fridge or box many people use that soil/sand substrate, and you can tell if there has been a wee because the soil will be a bit darker and clump together if there is a wee. It's probably OK to use your orchard bark if you want to, but it might be more difficult to tell if there is a wee. Many of us (including me), just use shredded paper, and that seems to work fine. LOL, I sit in front of the telly for several nights, happily shredding newspaper by hand. If you use shredded paper, don't make it too long, as you don't want anything to get wound around them. I can then just put my hand in the box and feel if the paper is wet or if there is any wee on the bottom of the box. I used to put a paper towel on the bottom of the box, so that if one of them had a wee, you could see a dark patch on the towel, but they invariably move around and then get under the paper towel, so there was no point and I stopped using it.

Nina

winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 23 Nov 2020, 13:13

Hi Nina,

Amazing, thank you so much! Apologies for not putting my name in my original posts - my name is Saurin (sounds like Lauren).

Thanks for the tips on weighing and substrate, and re the substrate for brumation. I like the idea of shredded newspaper for being able to tell if there is a wee by checking the bottom of the box. I will start collecting newspapers now haha :) I'll begin Winston's wind down from next week as I will buy his fridge this week and start tinkering around with getting the right temperature.

I have to admit, I'm going to feel so GUILTY when I start fasting him from next week- he is a little bit of a glutton and breakfast is his favourite time of the day! Seeing his little face looking up at me after I put him back following his soak is going to kill me(!) :( Tough love I guess!

Thanks very much for the links and for all of your help!
Saurin

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 23 Nov 2020, 16:28

Hi Saurin,

At 499g, Winston will be fine with only a three week wind down, and do be sure to bathe him often to keep him hydrated, as you want him to go into the fridge with a full bladder but an empty stomach. And yes, you will feel super guilty -- especially when several days or a week has gone by with no food and he looks up at you with pleading eyes, as if to say 'What have I ever done to you that you should treat me so cruelly?" And after several days or a week in the fridge, when you open the door and see his little eyes pleading with you from inside that box, you will want to turn yourself in to the local authorities for animal cruelty :o (they sometimes don't settle to sleep straight away in the fridge and that is normal but very disconcerting for you!).

Let us know how you get on, and please let us know if you have any questions or problems -- and good luck!

Nina

winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 23 Nov 2020, 20:42

Hi Nina,

Thank you :) I have a feeling I may be posting on here a bit due to first time Tort Mother jitters(!)

My husband and I have become pretty besotted by Winston and I'm such a softy with him that I have a feeling I'm going experience exactly as you've described below!

I will keep you posted on how it all goes. Fingers crossed no wees during brumation!

Thanks again for all of your help!
Saurin

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 23 Nov 2020, 21:53

I think you and your hubby have given Winston an excellent home, and he is going to thrive in your care. Please come back with any questions -- that's what we're here for.

By the way, someone posted a template that they made to use during the wind down period -- to record weight, poos and wees, baths, etc., just to keep tabs on things while winding down. Because you will be steadily reducing the hours of heat and light each day, it's useful to fill that in, in advance, and then you can know exactly how to adjust the timing each day. I don't have it separately, but it's about halfway down in this thread:
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/sit ... =12&t=2108 You can't print it off from there, but it could give you an idea of something to use.

Nina

winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 24 Nov 2020, 10:24

Hi Nina,

Thank you very much for that, I will make a spreadsheet and start filling it out now for when he begins his wind down next week.

It's funny, I think that guilt is kicking in early re his fast etc. as I understand tortoises really don't like change, so I have a feeling I'm going to be muttering 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry' whenever I look at him from next week until he comes out of brumation lol.

Thanks again for all of your help! :)
Saurin

winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 02 Dec 2020, 11:30

Hi Nina,

So today is Winston's first day of wind-down and I feel SO BAD :cry:

He keeps wandering around trying to find his breakfast/lunch and then he's chewing on the little logs in his table (he has three little upside down logs to walk over/ hide in) because he's hungry. Argh... tough love I know but it's SO HARD!!

I weighed him yesterday and he had put on 5g so he's now 504g(!) which is good because he's a nice hefty weight ahead of brumation, but I suppose that doesn't help as he's such a foodie so he's used to just chomping away every morning.

Hopefully after a couple of days he'll settle in to the fasting period. I will let you know how it's going- just needed to have a space to relay my nervous mum woes!

Thanks :) Saurin

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Nina
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 03 Dec 2020, 11:50

I know exactly how you feel, and this is the perfect place to relay your nervous mum woes, as you're among friends and like-minded people!
Do make sure that you bathe him regularly to keep him well hydrated, and that you keep a record of the decreasing hours of heat and light.

Did you get your fridge set up? It's a good idea to have it set up for at least a week before you put him in, and also to add some bottles of water inside, as that mass of water, once it gets cool will help to stabilize temperature fluctuations. I also put a little bowl of water on the bottom shelf, just to add a little humidity, as fridges are quite a dry environment.

Do you have a good thermometer so that you can monitor the temperatures? The best ones are the fridge/freezer digital thermometers that have a display unit that sits outside the fridge and a probe on the end of a long cord that goes into the fridge (I put my probes in with the tortoises through a little hole in the top of their boxes). Most of them have a Max/Min function that is very useful as you can see how hot or how cold it got since you last re-set the function. This is the sort of thing I mean: https://www.nisbets.co.uk/hygiplas-digi ... meter/f343 or this
https://caterspeed.co.uk/product/hygipl ... gKI5PD_BwE
You can get them lots of places. Also remember that it is usually a couple of degrees warmer near the top of the fridge than it is at the bottom.

Do let us know how you get on. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that while frequent bathing is important for tortoises, frequent glasses of wine are recommended for the tortoise keeper!

Nina

winstonwantstoknow
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Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 03 Dec 2020, 13:25

Thanks Nina, much appreciated :)

His second day today seems to be going a bit better, although he's still trying to chew on his logs and I caught him trying to have a munch on a spider plant and an aloe plant that are in his enclosure so I've had to take those out(!) Poor little dude now has a very barren looking table :( luckily it's only for a few weeks!

Winston does get short soaks every day in tepid water, he's used to it as part of his routine so I will continue with it up to when he goes into the fridge, but I'll decrease the temperature of the water as he gets closer to the end of his wind down. I like bathing him as he always drinks a bit and does a big wee and almost always poos so I can monitor everything.

I'm ordering his fridge this weekend so it will arrive on Monday- I've found this one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/stores/page/16 ... f_=ast_bln ... from my research this looks like a good one, decent size and no freezer compartment to cause any ill effects?

Thanks for the links for the thermometers- I will definitely buy one of these to monitor the temperature inside. And the tip re a dish of water inside, I will definitely do this! And I agree with you re the wine... it's so nerve wracking atm that I'll partake in one of those tonight I think :lol:

Thanks again :) Saurin
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Nina
Posts: 1592
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 03 Dec 2020, 13:48

Hi Saurin,

Yes that looks like a good fridge. It just occurs to me -- would you like a complimentary copy of our Tortoise Observation Records booklet? Send me your full address details to nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk and I'll pop one in the post to you. It's just a good wayto keep details of growth, hibernation, equipment changes, vet details etc.,all in one place.

Cheers,
Nina

winstonwantstoknow
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Nov 2020, 18:42

Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by winstonwantstoknow » 03 Dec 2020, 15:13

Hi Nina, thanks so much I will send you an email with my details in a moment.

Cheers! :)

Khan’s Ma
Posts: 6
Joined: 30 Sep 2020, 16:52

Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Khan’s Ma » 14 Oct 2021, 17:34

Hi guys,

So a year has passed and it’s brumation time again. I’m terrified.

Khan only weighs 313.9g and is 11.5cm long, which, according to the McIntyre ratio is a bit on the slim side. Is he fat enough to brúmate this year, Nina?

How did Winston do last winter, Saurin?

Thanks,
Marsha

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Nina
Posts: 1592
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Nina » 14 Oct 2021, 18:35

Hi Marsha -- great to hear from you! I hope Khan has had a good year in that super table you built him, and that he got some time outdoors in the sunshine too.

It's difficult to say if he is of a sufficient weight to brumate. The McIntyre ratio was developed on the basis of information gathered from about 20 people, so it wasn't a huge sampling and I wouldnt use that as a bible. Regarding his weight, looking back at the beginning of this thread he was around 300g last September, which means that he gained about 14g over the last year, which is rather light. Are you using the same scales (different scales can make a difference).

Does he seem healthy and have a good appetite? If so then I think you could give him a brumation, but I might make it shorter than normal, just in case. You could wind him down for about two and a half weeks, and then give him a hibernation of about 8 weeks, checking that he doesn't lose too much in his brumating.

Does he still have an appetite, or has he slowed down a lot and look like he wants to brumate? If he is still raring to go, I would delay winding him down until later, so that when he wakes up it isn't still the middle of winter, with fewer plants growing outdoors to feed him, but if he has gone into brumation mode, and you can't encourage him to stay awake for a bit longer then let us know.

Do you need the information on windown and hibernating/brumating (box method and fridge method)? If so let me know and I'll send it to you.

Cheers,
Nina

Khan’s Ma
Posts: 6
Joined: 30 Sep 2020, 16:52

Re: Rescued Horsfield - weight and brumation

Post by Khan’s Ma » 14 Oct 2021, 19:36

Hi Nina,

Thanks for replying so quickly and thanks for the compliment :) I’m planning to remodel the tortarium while Khan’s asleep, and make it fully bioactive, it’s only semi-bioactive at the moment. I did make him a shelf with a ramp, but he wasn’t a big fan.

The only thing that really livened him up was going outside. Khan managed to get a bit of sun, but not as much as he would have liked because we live in Yorkshire! It was really wonderful to see what a difference it made to his well-being. He quite enjoyed tormenting the mammals too, I think (we have a small tortoise/cat/dog-proof yard so he met them and chased them).

He only started to gain an appetite after he had started going outside quite regularly. He’s always been difficult to feed, and it is only now in the last few weeks that he will begin eating by himself, without having to be persuaded. So he is now eating with great gusto every day after his bath, and then going straight back under a rock.

So it sounds like I should keep him awake, then aim to pop him in the fridge after Christmas so he can wake up as the plants are coming up? Or am I mistaken?

As for scales, I actually delayed contacting you until our new, super-accurate ones arrived today. They make him 1.1g lighter than the ones we have been using since we got him.

I have downloaded all the information sheets you provided last winter, no need to send them again, thanks 😊

Thanks for all your help!
Marsha and Khan

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