What to do when they wake up

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Kahlidandpal
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What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 03 Mar 2021, 15:14

Hello, I was given 2 boys last summer aged 8 and 10 and they have been in the fridge since mid November. I have just read the posts about them dying if left too long so I would like advise about what to do please. They have a heated sleeping area in the garden. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated, thank you

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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 03 Mar 2021, 16:56

Hi Kahlidandpal and welcome to The Tortoise Table.

If they have been in the fridge since mid-November then it is time to wake them up. Current thinking is that for medium-sized tortoises (what species are yours?) that 12 weeks is about right, but a week or so longer is possible.

Do you have an indoor area with a heat lamp and UVB light where they could warm up? Here is a link to some good instructions for what to do when you are waking a tortoise from hibernation: http://www.tortoise-protection-group.or ... 080608.pdf .
So wake them up slowly and bathe them in nice warm water for at least 15 - 20 minutes in a container that they can't see out of (like an old washing up bowl) in water that comes just up to their chins (or where the top shell meets the bottom shell). And I would continue to give them baths every day or two for the rest of the week and thereafter a couple of times a week, as you would normally do.

Regarding their heated area outside -- what country do you live in? If you are in the UK, then it is too cold for a tortoise to be outdoors without heat at the moment, but if you have an insulated and heated area outside, and the temperature can reach at least 26C - 28C during the daytime, then they should be fine (tortoises need a temperature of around 26C for their digestive systems to work properly). Is there heat at night out there? Normally, during the summer, there is no need for heat at night, but if the temperature drops below about 12C at night then that could send them back into hibernation, and is dangerous because once they have woken up they need to stay up for the rest of the year (I can explain why if you are interested).

Sorry to have gone on so long, and I hope that some of this information helps. Do please get back with any more questions, or if you have any problems (and it would be great to know how you get on).

Nina

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 04 Mar 2021, 18:39

Thank you Nina, yes, their house in the garden has an insulated and heated part for them to sleep in. My husband has put electricity supply down that end of the garden especially for it and we have thermostats. Should I just take them out of the fridge and leave in the box till they get up to room temperature? I haven’t read the link yet so maybe it will tell me in there. Also, do I offer them food straight away after their bath?

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 04 Mar 2021, 18:43

I’ve just read the link ... it’s very helpful and seems to be exactly what I needed to know. Thank you 😊

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 04 Mar 2021, 18:45

Please can I ask you what do you recommend using for them to sleep in? Last summer we used straw when they were outside but in the fridge it’s just a grey substrate. What do you think is best?

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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 04 Mar 2021, 18:59

Hi,

Glad you found the article helpful, and it's great that you've got an insulated and heated area for them outside. Do check before you put them out there, if when we have sub-zero temperatures that the temperature will not drop below the mid-20s in the daytime and no colder than about 12C or 14C at night.

Regarding substrate, I think it is always best to use a substrate that would approxiimate what they would have in the wild, and although I don't know what species yours are, most tortoises prefer a soil-based substrate, and in the wild they tend to live on sandy soils. So what we use is a mixture of ordinary sterilised topsoil and children's play sand, and you can buy bags of both of those at garden centres, places like Homebase, B&Q, etc. You then mix them with slightly more topsoil to playsand, so say 60/40 or 70/30 (and some people mix them 50/50). Something like straw is easy to change, and light in weight, but it's not natural to them, and if it gets wet (from wee, etc.) it can grow mould, which could cause respiratory problems. And I would make the substrate at least four or five inches deep if possible, so that they can dig right in and bury themselves if they feel like it. Does that sound OK?

If you tell me what species you have, I can send you a link to a care sheet for that species, if you would like one.

Best,
Nina

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 04 Mar 2021, 19:41

We were given them last year from someone who had them outside all the time but were not able to keep them. I think they are Hermans.

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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 05 Mar 2021, 08:38

Here is a care sheet for Hermanns, but if you want to be absolutely sure, send us some photos of them (from the top looking down and also from the side so that we can see the heads and shell) and we'll give you an ID. Also, if you are not completely sure of their sex, send us photos of their undersides, clearly showing the tail and we will sex them for you
https://www.tortoise-protection-group.o ... 014New.pdf

Nina

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 05 Mar 2021, 08:49

Thank you so much. I am so glad I found you ... I have tried to find out this stuff online but you have gone above and beyond anything else I’ve found. I really appreciate it. We are going to get them out tomorrow when we are both here so I will try to work out how to send a photo.

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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 05 Mar 2021, 09:38

Aww, that is so kind of you to say that. I know what it is like, as I struggled when I got my first tortoise, and there is an awful lot of misinformation out there. One of the reasons we started The Tortoise Table was because of the conflicting information (especially about diet) and we wanted to help other tortoise keepers.

Am really looking forward to seeing photos of these two handsome chappies when they wake from their long slumber. Have you checked on their weight and things while they have been in the fridge, and also that they haven't had a wee (if they wee in hibernation then you must wake them up as they are in danger of dehydrating). I'm sure they will be fine and will wake up full of energy and raring to go!

Nina

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 05 Mar 2021, 11:55

We did weigh them before but I was afraid to weigh them during incase they woke up. I have checked them twice a day throughout their sleep. I'm going to try to attatch a picture from last summer ... please forgive me, I was told they like strawberries for a treat. :shock: [attachment=0]turttles.jpeg[/attachment]
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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 05 Mar 2021, 12:56

What a sweet photo! Ha, ha yes, they do love strawberries, but they aren't good for them because the digestive systems of tortoises don't cope well with the natural sugars in fruit, and it can upset their gut flora (and tomatoes count as a fruit too). I always think of it like giving a baby lots and lots of chocolate -- they would love it but it's not really good for them. :D

I can't really ID them from that photo - it's a bit far away. They do look quite different, both in shape and colouring, but individual members of a species can look different. When they're out of hibernation and you are taking photos, the best ones will be:
lookng straight down from the top
side view showing the head
photo from the back end, with legs extended, so that we can see if they have spurs on the upper part of their back legs
photo of the underside clearly showing the tail

It sounds to me like you're really looking after them well, and they're lucky to have found a home with you! What are their names, by the way?

Nina

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 05 Mar 2021, 13:32

The big one is named after a singer called Kahlid and the other one was Came which is Japanese for Tortoise but I call him Herman because it suits him. The big one tends to bully the little one and bites him occasionally. I will keep an eye on him.

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 05 Mar 2021, 13:38

Ok, so I can’t spell ... 😭 I’ve never written their names before. It’s Khalid and Kame :oops:

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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 05 Mar 2021, 15:44

I like those names! Much more interesting than my Doris and Dolly (but they were named because they're like two little spinsters, very well mannered and not great risk takers -- although Dolly has pulled some amazing escape adventures). They send greatings to Kahlid and Kame (lol they're still in the fridge too, but due to come out in a couple of days).
Nina
[attachment=0]IMG_5905 [Desktop Resolution].JPG[/attachment]
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IMG_5905 [Desktop Resolution].JPG

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 05 Mar 2021, 16:13

Tortoises are amazing climbers (which is why you need to make any outdoor enclosure escape proof). Although it looks like their bodies are not designed for climbing, here are a couple of photos of what they are capable of if given half a chance.

Nina
[attachment=0]Tortoise climbing wall.jpg[/attachment][attachment=1]Tortoise climbing fence.jpg[/attachment]
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Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 06 Mar 2021, 11:25

Wow! Mine are both alive ... 😁
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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 06 Mar 2021, 11:50

Yippee! So glad that they've come through with flying colours. Do give them both a nice long bath in warm water up to their chins (or where the top shell meets the bottom shell), at the temperature you would bathe a baby in, and in something they can't see out of (like an old washing up bowl), for 15 - 20 minutes. That will help to rehydrate them, and I would continue to give baths once or twice a week throughout the year.

We're having some cold nights now, so if you do plan to put them into their heated area outdoors, make sure that the temperature doesn't fall too low at night. I have one of those little weather station things, where you have a sensor outdoors (mine is in my greenhouse), and then a display unit in the house that tells you the temperature, humidity, etc. of the outdoor one, so you can check at any time. Something like this (there are loads but I just googled and this one seems reasonable): https://tinyurl.com/527t5nje

Nina

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 06 Mar 2021, 12:49

Thank you ... yes we have that ability 😁👍

Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 06 Mar 2021, 12:51

Here is Khalid’s tummy. He has a funny growth but it’s not changed since hybernation.
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Kahlidandpal
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Kahlidandpal » 06 Mar 2021, 12:52

Here is Herman’s tummy .. can you tell if they are both boys?
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Nina
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Re: What to do when they wake up

Post by Nina » 06 Mar 2021, 13:42

It looks to me like Khalid has a serious prolapse and that is his penis. If it hasn't gone back after a very short time you really need to see a vet. This is because his penis is in serious danger of drying out and becoming necrotic, which could mean amputation. You can try a very strong solution of sugar mixed with water, and applied on the penis -- as that will often cause it to shrink a bit and go back in. If that doesn't work then applyng vaseline or ky jelly will keep it soft nad lubricated until you can see a vet. If you'd like to talk on the phone about this I will PM and email you my phone number, and I'm home now.

Nina

I'm afraid that if it hasn't gone back in by now that this is rather urgent and I've just Pm'd and emailed you my phone number. Can you let me know if you got it?

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