Hopefully getting another tortoise

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Hannah
Posts: 4
Joined: 01 Nov 2017, 08:04

Hopefully getting another tortoise

Post by Hannah » 31 Jan 2021, 11:50

Hi, and I hope you're all well. I'm sorry to say that my old fella has died in hibernation. I think he was about 80. I'd love to give a tortoise a new home and will keep looking at the section on the website, but I wanted to ask from what age can you keep a tortoise in the fridge for the whole winter...16 weeks? When I inherited Fluff (my brother bought the tortoise for my Mum so had the honour of naming him) he was already old, and I had him for four years, but he had always lived outdoors, even hibernating outdoors at Mum's. I have nowhere to keep a tortoise table at all, so outdoor living and then a long hibernation is the only option. Also, something I've been meaning to ask for ages...are flowers as nutritious as leaves, say from the same plant? Just something I've wondered over the last few years!
Thank you,
Hannah

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Nina
Posts: 1515
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hopefully getting another tortoise

Post by Nina » 31 Jan 2021, 13:40

Hi Hannah,

I'm so sorry to hear that Fluff didn't make it through hibernation -- you must have been devastated. I remember you bought that neat Ink bird gadget too. Did he have a proper winddown before going into the fridge (four weeks with no food at all but well hydrated)? I only ask because we have recently heard from someone else who lost their tortoise because they didn't know that they must go into the fridge with an empty stomach and a full bladder, and if they wee in hibernation you must wake them up as they are in danger of dehydrating. I'm sure you did all the right things though, and that his time had just come. If you're nervous about hibernating in future we can send you a full guide on how to prepare a tortoise (which is crucial) and the hibernation itself.

I'm afraid that it is really not advisable to keep most tortoises in the fridge for 16 weeks, although very large tortoises could stay that long. People used to hibernate tortoises for even longer, but we know now that a tortoise's immune system gradually becomes compromised during a long stay in a fridge, and this makes them prey to illnesses. It goes by size rather than by age, and current thinking is that for small tortoises 8 - 10 weeks is recommended, medium sized tortoises 12 weeks or so, and very large tortoises can go 14 - 16 weeks. So it depends on the species you have, as to how large that tortoise is. I have adult Horsfields (which are not a large species) and I hibernate mine for about 12 weeks and no more. So if you bought a young tortoise of a species that gets larger, like Spur-thighs, then it would be at least 10 years before you would be able to keep him in the fridge for as long as you are hoping to.

Even if you hibernated for 16 weeks in a fridge it would be recommended to have some form of heat available to the tortoise after he wakes up, because in this country we can get frosts up until the middle of May. The problem is that tortoises are ectothermic -- their body heat is determined by the outside temperature and they don't produce their own body heat like mammals do, and they must have warmth for their body processes to function. For example, they need a temperature of around 24C - 26C just to digest their food, and most people have a place where their tortoises can warm up in the morning before going outside -- either indoors in a table or under a good lamp, or outdoors in a tortoise shelter. I guess there is a reason why tortoises aren't indigenous to this country -- we just don't have the best climate for them.

If you don't have a lot of room indoors, there are all sorts of tables that make good use of space -- for example an L-shaped table can be not too wide and can go around a corner, and I've also seen triangular tables that fit into corners too. Would that be at all possible?

I'm sorry not to be more encouraging, but every year we hear of tortoises that die in hibernation for one reason or another, and if they are outdoors 24/7 then there are increasing reports of tortoises being killed or badly injured by rats or foxes, which is something that wasn't such a problem years ago, so more protection needs to be given nowadays.

Regarding flowers vs. leaves -- yes they are just as nutritious (obviously depending on the species), and tortoises do love flowers. What they need is a high fibre/low protein diet, and appropriate flowers and leaves provide this.

I'm so sorry that you have lost Fluff, and I do hope you can find a way to give a home to another tortoise. Please let us know if you need any advice or would like a care sheet for a particular species.

Nina

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lin
Posts: 848
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Hopefully getting another tortoise

Post by lin » 31 Jan 2021, 21:28

Hi Hannah.
I have read your message with both interest and sadness and would like to extend my sorrow over Fluff, may he rest in peace.
Have you thought about offering a different kind of pet a nice home, one that is less demanding than a tortoise. Tortoises do take up so much time, I know, and money and as you have found its so hurtful when they do pass. Just a thought that you could consider before taking the plunge with another tortoise.

Lin




Hannah wrote:
> Hi, and I hope you're all well. I'm sorry to say that my old fella has died
> in hibernation. I think he was about 80. I'd love to give a tortoise a new
> home and will keep looking at the section on the website, but I wanted to
> ask from what age can you keep a tortoise in the fridge for the whole
> winter...16 weeks? When I inherited Fluff (my brother bought the tortoise
> for my Mum so had the honour of naming him) he was already old, and I had
> him for four years, but he had always lived outdoors, even hibernating
> outdoors at Mum's. I have nowhere to keep a tortoise table at all, so
> outdoor living and then a long hibernation is the only option. Also,
> something I've been meaning to ask for ages...are flowers as nutritious as
> leaves, say from the same plant? Just something I've wondered over the last
> few years!
> Thank you,
> Hannah

Hannah
Posts: 4
Joined: 01 Nov 2017, 08:04

Re: Hopefully getting another tortoise

Post by Hannah » 01 Feb 2021, 15:20

Hi ladies, and thank you for your kind words and advice. I am at a loss as to why he died...he had an empty stomach, was a good weight and had daily soaks for a month before the fridge....yes, controlled by the ink bird device, which is great. I have a small conservatory which I heated for him after hibernation, with a lamp, to get him warmed up and eating. He hated being in there, though, and constantly tried to dig through the walls! He had to put up with it, but it couldn't be a long term home. Outside he had a greenhouse (which he was kind enough to share with me) with a ramp for access to a nice big compound, 20 feet x 10 feet. Anyway! I did my best for him, and hope he's in a lovely tortoise afterlife with lots of hollyhock flowers (but not the leaves, please!).
Thanks again, and I'll be in touch if I need any advice. Thanks for all you do,
Hannah

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Nina
Posts: 1515
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Hopefully getting another tortoise

Post by Nina » 01 Feb 2021, 15:54

Hi Hannah,

It sounds like you provided him with a wonderful home -- greenhouse, conservatory, lovely big compound -- he must have been very happy with you! It's really sad that he has passed away, but you already have the makings of a great home for another tortoise, and you wouldn't have to hibernate them for 16 weeks if they could take up residence in your conservatory and then the greenhouse on cold days after they wake up from hibernation. All they would need is a little combined heat and UVB lamp rigged up in the conservatory to bask under and they would be fine.

Do keep an eye on the ads for tortoises that need rehoming on our Forum and Facebook page, and don't hesitate to contact us if you have any problems or questions.

Nina x

Teddy28
Posts: 150
Joined: 06 May 2017, 10:57

Re: Hopefully getting another tortoise

Post by Teddy28 » 01 Feb 2021, 15:57

Hi Hannah, just read your sad tale. My condolences to you xx

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