Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

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ShelbyTheTortoise
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Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 22:44

Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

Post by ShelbyTheTortoise » 25 Nov 2018, 09:53

Hello, I am unsure whether to continue with the hibernation wind down of my 18 month old Hermann tortoise. I had committed to an 18 day wind down and an 8 week hibernation schedule after reading copious amounts of differing advice. I weighed her on day 1 of the wind down and she was at 0.194 on the Jackson Ration. Today is day 8 of the wind down and I've weighed her again and she's now at 0.167 on the Jackson Ratio, which indicates a tortoise in need of special care!! She has been pooing lots but being kept very well hydrated, drinking and bathing every day. My wind down schedule involves no food from Day 1. The first 5 days the heat and light stay the same then the next 5 days the light is reduced, then the next 5 days the lights are off then the final 3 days the temperatures are reduced before placing her in the fridge in the necessary container with the necessary temperatures. As I say I am now on Day 8 but wondering if it's safe to continue considering her weight or whether the weight loss is normal considering she's ad no food? Her exact weight went from 115g to 99g.

Thank you in advance for your help and advice.


Natacha

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

Post by Nina » 25 Nov 2018, 10:44

Hi Shelby,

Oh dear, I just wrote a reply and it disappeared so I'll try and recreate it!

I do think you are right to be concerned, because your tortoise seems to have lost about 14% of her body weight in 8 days and that is a lot.

Do you have a record of what she weighed, say, a month or two before you started wind down? If she had eaten a big meal and hadn't had a poo just before that weighing at the beginning of wind down then that could account for some of it and made her initial weight higher than usual (poos and food in stomach can weigh more than you think).

Also, just checking -- how much are you reducing the heat and light by for the second five days (you don't want to reduce it drastically as she still needs some hours of heat and light to move any food from her stomach through her system).

Re the Jackson Ratio, it is only meant to be a guide as to fitness for hibernation (not a bible), and it does depend greatly on how accurately you have measured her weight and length (SCL). It is very easy to measure the SCL incorrectly. Here's a guide on how to do it:
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... _p7deKYS9s Just be sure you are not measuring over the top of the shell. And here is a screen where you can enter weight and length and calculate the JR https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... te/171.asp

Given that you have measured weight and length correctly, I do think I would be nervous about continuing the wind down, especially with such a small tortoise. At 18 months she should be fine to hibernate, but if your calculations are correct then I'm not sure I would risk it.

Hopefully someone else will come in with some more advice, and please do let us know if you have any more concessions or concerns.

Nina

ShelbyTheTortoise
Posts: 8
Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 22:44

Re: Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

Post by ShelbyTheTortoise » 25 Nov 2018, 12:09

Hi Nina

Thanks so much for your reply and thank you even more for recreating your original reply, I hate it when that happens!!

Since we spoke I did even more searching on here and the internet generally. I was looking at your links about talks with the Evolution Reptile Centre and as they were open I gave them a call and spoke to a really helpful lady who gave me some more advice. It was nice to actually speak to someone?! She said, in line with their website advice, to ideally not hibernate until the tortoise weighs at least 400g. So with that advice coupled with my concerns about her weight I've decided to go back on my decision and not hibernate this year.

She has always been on the lighter side and not exactly a ravenous eater. She tends to turn her nose up at the things I know are good for her to eat and if I test her with a bit of iceberg or something 'bad' she's all over it!! Although after 8 days with no food she's tucking in very eagerly to her moistened Alpine mix right now!

I had looked at your measuring advice before so I'm pretty sure I'm doing it accurately. I am going to take her to the vet for a health check for peace of mind too.

Thank you again for your help,

Natacha

P.S. Do you have any more of those talks planned for next year?

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

Post by Nina » 25 Nov 2018, 12:55

Hi Natacha,

I think you're probably right in not hibernating her this year, but I'm surprised that someone at Evolution Reptiles told you to wait until she weighed 400g. Evolution Reptiles are a really good store and they give good advice (in fact I was in there yesterday getting some stuff), but really there is no need to wait until a tortoise is 400g. In the wild tortoises hibernate from year 1 -- they have no choice. It is true that smaller tortoises have fewer fat reserves and therefore hibernation can be more risky, but a very short hibernation will take that into account. I think I might ring them and have a chat, although I know they get their advice from a good vet and opinions amongst experts do differ..

It's good that she is eating again. And yes they do love lettuce -- it's an easy food and good for hydration, but it's classified as a wet food because it doesn't have much nutrition and goes through their digestive system a bit too quickly (tortoises are designed for slow digestion). But good for a treat and it's great that she is eating Pre Alpin. That is the only commercial food that we would recommend and its really good for her.

If you want to trick her into eating the better stuff, just cut everything up into teeny tiny pieces (for example iceberg lettuce) and wet it. Then cut the new, better food up into teeny tiny pieces and mix a small amount in with the chopped up favourite food. Because they are wet they'll stick together and when she goes for the lettuce (or whatever) she will get some of the new food with it. Then gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of the favourite not-so-good food until you are feeding all of the new, better food. It's something to try, but if she is eating Pre Alpin then she is getting a pretty good diet already (but the more variety the better). My torts took ages before they would eat the Pre Alpin, but they love it now.

Oh dear, I had no idea my talk was still on Youtube (but I've just had a look and it is). I would have thought that would have put you off -- my terrible American accent, and I talk too fast! :roll: :roll: Pete from Evolution Reptiles did ask me if I'd do another talk this year, but I had other commitments on the dates he suggested. I might do one again -- but not sure if I have anything more to say!

I do think you've made the right decision this year, and it's probably not a bad idea to get her checked out by a vet, just to be reassured (and don't forget to take a fresh sample of poo with you so that it can be tested for parasites). Given that she is eating and running around I think she is probably fine. I don't know where you live, but if you live anywhere near Evolution Reptiles then we have two great tortoise vets in our area: Martin Whitehead in Chipping Norton and Bruce Maclean in Oxford -- both are excellent.

Cheers,
Nina

ShelbyTheTortoise
Posts: 8
Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 22:44

Re: Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

Post by ShelbyTheTortoise » 25 Nov 2018, 13:42

Thanks so much Nina. I was only referring to the post/link mentions to the talks on this forum. I didn't realise they were on You Tube. I'll go take a look now!!

Thanks again for all your help, advice and support.

Natacha

ShelbyTheTortoise
Posts: 8
Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 22:44

Re: Ideal weight for hibernating my Hermann

Post by ShelbyTheTortoise » 25 Nov 2018, 13:47

Nina, I can't find your You Tube talk? Would you be happy to share the link?

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