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RE: Hibernation question

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Posted by: GregKnoell at Wed Aug 13 18:03:49 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by GregKnoell ]  
   

It is important to make sure they donít experience temps in the 50-60ís for a few days then 60-70ís for a few days, kinda back and forth, on and off. This puts a strain on their immune system. It slows the immune system down, yet is still temperatures where bacteria and viruses can grow and multiply. If you can keep them in the mid 40ís you greatly decrease the risk of pathogens overwhelming the tortoiseís slowed immune system because these temps are too low to allow these pathogens to reproduce.

For many tortoise species this can be avoided outdoors by providing them the ability to bask in the sun. The air temp may be in the 50ís or 60ís but a tortoise sitting in the sun can thermoregulate enough to increase immune function by raising their body temperature.

The problem with Russian tortoises is that they almost always desire to hibernate regardless of temperatures. In spite of mid range or fluctuation temps they will refuse to bask and choose to stay buried or covered. Here in Phoenix the thin desert air does get cold, into the low 30ís sometimes but still warms up into the 60ís and 70ís during the warmest parts of the day. To avoid the risks of my Russian experiencing this back and forth I have used the refrigerator and have had no issues.

I hibernate my Russian tortoises in a refrigerator that stays in the low 40s. If you keep them indoors you can definitely cool them in this fashion to help them with their fertility. You can begin hibernation when the tortoises start becoming less active and hide more. Their biological clocks kick into gear and they may try to dig burrows in their cages. As Cliff said in his post, donít feed them for a couple weeks, soak them often, and stick them into the fridge. I cease feeding the 1st week in November and put them into the fridge around the middle of the month.

I put them each into their own Rubbermaid shoe box with aspen bedding and soft hay or grass. I have successfully cooled them in the family fridge by covering them with a towel to keep their shoe box dark blocking out the light that comes on when the door is opened. I currently have a fridge that I use exclusively for cooling my Russians. I weigh them before I put them down and about once a month after that to make sure they are not loosing too much weight. Temps in my fridge stayes about 41-43 degrees and seems to work great. Donít know if it is necessary but I make sure to open the door about twice a week for a minute to allow adequate air exchange. They are kept down for about 16 weeks. After that period I warm them up by placing the tortoises into their cages/pens and leave them alone for a day or two. I then give them a good soak to rehydrate them every couple days and begin feeding them about 4-5 days after they emerge and boy are they hungry!

Hope this helps!

Greg Knoell
www.TheColoredDragon.com


   

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