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RE: hibernating my torts

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Posted by: tglazie at Wed Feb 13 15:47:33 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tglazie ]  
   

The idea is not to use your food and beverage fridge. The idea is to buy one and use it solely for the tortoises' hibernation needs. This is the only way to hibernate tortoises safely. Take it from someone who has seen far too many other keepers lose their animals to unseasonable weather. The key to successfully hibernating tortoises is temperature control. You can get a small Hartley fridge for under 200 dollars that will suit your animals just fine. First off, buy the fridge and place it in a cool place with a relatively constant temperature. I put mine in the garage, where the temp runs between sixty to seventy degrees. I have a digital thermometer that I place inside the fridge that you can buy at any Home Depot or Walmart or Target (ensure to buy one with a maximum/minimum temperature reading, so you can record over a day the temperature derivations). Try to get the temperature between forty to fifty degrees. Russians are insanely resilient, so this can drop down into the thirties so long as it doesn't fall below freezing. Over fifty degrees, and your Russians will start to burn energy and will become restless. They will die this way if you leave them for eight to twelve weeks, so ensure that the temperature is below fifty degrees farenheit. Allow your fridge to settle over at least three days to ensure temperature fluctuation is to a minimum.

Meanwhile, prepare your tortoises for their big sleep. Ensure that they eat no food for two weeks. Soak them daily during this period and keep detailed notes on all excrement and urine voided at this time. The animals should have been healthy and feeding prior to this endeavor. Do not hibernate tortoises with respiratory illnesses, infections, unhealed injuries, or heavy parasite loads (i.e. don't hibernate any newly acquired tortoises! This is why russians should generally be purchased in spring or winter, so that effective treatment for parasites and protazoans can take hold before hibernation can take place). Once your animals are in the seasonal habit of hibernation, they will start to cut off activity and feeding themselves. However, some will continue to be active. Regardless of your animal's behavioral tendencies, follow the guidelines as stated above.

Once your animals are prepared for the big sleep, wait for a cool night in the forties or below. Place the animals outside and allow them to go into a sleep for the night. If the weather where you live is too inhospitable, then keep the animals in a tortoise table in a basement or garage. Warm them with a heat lamp during the morning, then cut this off at three or four in the afternoon, allowing the animals to sleep. Once the temperature has dropped into the fifties or forties, transfer the animals to previously prepared containers filled with peat moss. I use rubbermaid shoe boxes with holes drilled in the lids (usually six to ten holes is sufficient). I fill these with peat moss, place the tortoise into the container, then cover the tortoise with additional peat moss, leaving the area around the front legs and face uncovered (they do need to breathe, afterall). After the animals are prepared, snap on the lids, put them in the fridge, and give them 24 hours to settle. After this, check on the animals once per day. Ensure that you open the fridge at least once per day to ensure adequate oxygen flow. Physically check the tortoises once every three days to ensure that the animals are not losing weight or have not become listless. Most tortoises react to a touch of the front leg even when in a state of deep hibernation. If your animal does not do this, then something is possibly wrong and it will have to be ressurrected. I have never encountered this in a refridgerator setup, however, though I have encountered it numerous times in a basement or outdoor setup. With this setup, keep your animals for a minimum of eight weeks under. When the time comes to wake them, choose a sunny day for their return to the pen. Place them at night in their sleeping quarters, and they will awaken the following morning to sunshine. Soak them once they emerge. Should they not emerge by midday, force their emergence. With any luck, your animals will start eating within three days. If they are not feeding within five days, take them to a vet. Once again, I've never seen this happen with refridgerator hibernated animals. Good luck, and if you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask me or anyone else on this forum.

T.G.


   

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<< Previous Message:  hibernating my torts - banjobert, Mon Jan 28 19:52:18 2008