Hibernation

Post your pictures and any questions here of European tortoises e.g. Ibera Spur Thigh, Ibera Graeca, Marginated, Hermanns, Kleinmanni and we include the Horsfield tortoise. Also, do add pictures of Mediterranean tortoises you have seen in the wild.
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Karon
Posts: 2
Joined: 04 Nov 2018, 11:54

Hibernation

Post by Karon » 04 Nov 2018, 12:11

Hi Lin and Nina,
Thank you for a great site, It has been of great help to me for quite a while now but this is the first time I have needed to post.
I have two 8 year old Hermans tortoises and one of them is causing me some concern at the moment! They are both kept separately in the same shed, 30 degrees under lamps, 20 degrees at the cooler end of shed, heater on stat for cold nights. They have both slowed down considerably in the last two weeks, the male is still eating smaller amounts but the female very little and is loosing weight. i am bathing them both daily and placing the female back under her lamp but she just removes herself and digs back in the soil! She has always been ready for hibernation earlier than the male but has never stopped eating this early. I normally start wind down at the end of November but due to her weight loss I was wondering if I should give in and have an earlier hibernation this year. She weighed 598g on 19th October and is now down to 582g. They have had a great summer and have been outside most days since last hibernation, feeding on weeds and seem fit and healthy. I would be most grateful for any advice!
Thank you, Karon

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Nina
Posts: 522
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hibernation

Post by Nina » 04 Nov 2018, 12:34

Hi Karon,

Thanks for contacting us (and for the compliments too!).

Well, it sounds as if your conditions are good, but your little female has just decided to hibernate earlier this year. I'm not sure where you live, but we have had some very cold weather here, and even though it is warm in their shed, they often do sense when it gets darker earlier and when the temperatures have dropped outside. You could try to get her going again -- some really bright lights, and waking her up every morning -- or several times a day -- and putting her under the lamp, but as it is only four weeks earlier than you usually start winding her down, I think I might just give in and wind her down now.

Tortoises have such strong willpower, and such a strong instinct to hibernate that sometimes it can often be very difficult to turn them round. If you really do want to keep her awake for a while longer you could have a read of our article on overwintering, as some of the techniques there might be useful. https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... 97m9uKYS9s

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Nina

Karon
Posts: 2
Joined: 04 Nov 2018, 11:54

Re: Hibernation

Post by Karon » 04 Nov 2018, 15:39

Thank you Nina for your prompt reply. I have installed a lamp with bright bulb in the shed which has made a big difference and hopefully tomorrow will encourage Heidi to stay up a while longer and eat! I will set up my fridge in preparation in case I need to start hibernation earlier, my next challenge will be to adjust the fridge temperature to try and maintain 5 degrees on two shelves!
At the moment Heidi weighs 582g and Hamoun 679g. I was planning wind down of four 5 days weeks, do you think that will be ok?
I am so pleased I found your site, you both seem very knowledgeable and have a very nice approach in your response to questions raised - thank you.
Karon

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Nina
Posts: 522
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hibernation

Post by Nina » 04 Nov 2018, 17:45

Hi Karon,

Good luck with encouraging Heidi to perk up. I have Horsfields, and when they get into hibernation mode it is really difficult to turn them round, but I think Hermanns are a bit easier in that respect.

I think four five-day weeks should be OK. That is about what I do (I do maybe about three days longer than that, but I don't think it matters), and my Doris and Dolly are about the same weights as your Heidi and Hamoun. Just make sure that the beginning of the wind down has good high temperatures so that their digestive system gets that food pushed through their system.

I find it almost impossible to get the same temperature on two different shelves of the fridge, and the higher shelf will always be a degree or two warmer, so I aim for 5C, but settle for between 3C - 4C at the lowest and around 7C - 8C at the highest. I find that the very top of the fridge can be a good 3 or 4 degrees warmer than the bottom, and it's really frustrating. I do have lots of bottles of water in the fridge, cooled well in advance, as that stops big fluctuations in temperatures, and last year I switched the boxes on the shelves once or twice during the hibernation so that one tortoise didn't always have a slightly higher temperature than the other. I have a thermometer probe in each of the boxes, and the units that sit outside on top of the fridge have a max/min function, so that I can always see what the highest and lowest temperatures have been since I last checked.

I think that no matter how long you've been hibernating tortoises, it's an anxious time, and inevitably each year one of mine does somthing silly -- like having an enormous wee on the day that they are due to go in the fridge, so I have to keep her out another couple of days and try and get her rehydrated. They are definitely more stress producing than children!

Nina

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