Brumation Tip Outdoors

Eric Phillips

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Jul 19, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals. That is, they rely on external energy sources to control body temperature and cannot elevate their temperatures independently of environmental conditions. As a result, reptilian dormancy, or brumation, is different from mammalian hibernation because the metabolic processes are different. Not unlike mammals, reptiles may begin their dormancy stage in the fall. However, they do not enter a state of “sleep” as the mammals do. They go into a state of suspended animation. That is, their metabolism slows down dramatically, and still, they do not go in to a “kind of sleep” that mammals experience during hibernation.

I’ve found over the years that preparation is the key to successfully brumating Box Turtles outdoors. The more I’m prepared the easier the transition is for for my Box Turtles. In my region, I know by October my guys are slowing down, so at the end of September I am already taking a day to remove them from the enclosure, weighing and logging, and preparing the soil in multiple preselected sites in the enclosures. Loosening the soil with a shovel in a 3-4ft area down a 12-18 inches is ideal. The area where I live is all clay so I removed 50-75% of the clay and mixed in a part top soil, sand, peat moss, organic matter(leaves, grass clipping, etc) mixture to creat a more loose loaming soil.

In August and September, I also start bagging my grass clippings from mowing and start piling the clippings on the sites. Any leftover clippings are then placed at a designated stock pile for future need. I do this through October. I use the same method once the silver maple and oak leaves begin to fall from the trees. Below is a stock pile I have access to throughout the winter to add more leaf litter and grass clippings if need be.

IMG_1603.jpg IMG_1606.jpg

I’ve really found the leaf and grass clipping stock pile method useful come Jan/Feb. It’s like repairing a hole in blanket.

I stop feeding my guys 1st of October however I increase the soaks to a couple times a week throughout Oct. Come Nov. they are all pretty much down. This will be the last time I see them until middle to end of April.

In closing, if you have an area that you can stock pile some useful organic matter to continue to blanket your brumation sites, I would recommend it.

Good luck to those brumating their friends outdoors!


New Member
Oct 28, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Tomball Texas
Thank you I found this very helpful. Being a new Box Turtle owner I have search the web for everything under the sun and there is so many mixed views on what to do I have to say I'm a little confused.
Dec 4, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Birmingham, alabama
[QUOTE="Eric Phillips, post: 1545905,

Thank you. We did something similar - and the box chose an acrylic enclosure with substrate, then we covered him with pine needles and leaves.

I am concerned, though - it is not a "natural" way to hibernate.
There is a fairly large pen, the acrylic tank on its side (to ease entry) is sitting at the end of it.
The box (adult male) stopped eating in October and chose to go inside the enclosure and sleep there.

I am a little uneasy and want to unhibernate him and put him inside for the winter...

New Posts