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Can a Russian Tortoise Survive a Winter in the North if Hibernating?

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by Animals1315, Oct 9, 2019 at 12:04 AM.

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  1. Animals1315

    Animals1315 New Member

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    I lost my Russian Tortoise outside this July. He somehow managed to get off the deck. He's left me urinates every now and then. And eaten a bunch of stuff. I have tired everything to lure him out but he keeps avoiding me like on purpose. I've come out at all times of day in kinds of weather to hopefully catch him but I'm only finding his surprise stuff. Anyways I live in upstate New York and the weathers getting colder and I can't find any answer anywhere online. If he happened to have made a burrow which I'm sure he did by now. And it's deep enough and he were to hibernate in it would he survive the winter? I heard that where they live in the wild has extremely "harsh" winters what I found from research. He's extremely smart. Is it possible or is he just going to die no matter what?
  2. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I think that if he can find/make a burrow deep enough that temps don't go below freezing, he should be able to survive the winter. We used to live in the ADKs, and our temps got down to 30F or more below zero in the depths of winter, and that cold penetrated quite deep into the ground if we didn't have a lot of snow on the ground to insulate things.

    I think it's possible he may survive, but I wouldn't count on it.

    Jamie
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  3. method89

    method89 Active Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Not an expert opinion: It would depend on where in upstate NY as temps and conditions vary all over the state and it would depend on where the burrow was. From what I've read it appears tortoises have a decent shot if they are kept dry throughout the hibernation.

    Best of luck finding him before this even becomes an issue.
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  4. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Welcome!

    It does depend on the temps where you are. It definitely gets very cold where he’s from (lower than 20F at times); if he’s got a deep burrow he could be fine.

    I’d be more concerned about dampness than cold as he’s from a desert terrain that is dry whether it’s hot or cold. If he’s chosen a spot with decent drainage, that’s a plus.

    He was eating well, which is a good indicator of general health.

    No tortoise is ever guaranteed to survive hibernation but he’s surely not guaranteed to die; Russians are very tough.

    I know this is awful; our Russian hibernated in our yard while we were still looking for her original owner. It was a surprise and a relief to see her pop up, even though we knew tortoises successfully hibernate in our area. If you can, put your mind toward how you can make your deck safer for next year. Because if he does show up it’s going to seem out of nowhere to you; you want to be ready. :)
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  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Yes. It is possible for them to survive a winter there.
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  6. Animals1315

    Animals1315 New Member

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    well a lot of the ground in the yard is extremely dry and very rocky. Could never find a way to even get it wet even when it snows. I figured the come out of nowhere thing too. And next time he can just sit in his zoo med tortoise house and complain and be out only with extreme super vision. I've had him for years so I'm actually quite surprised that it took me this long to even loose him in the first place. Got him in 2013.
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  7. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    The first year I had Russians I allowed them to brumate in the ground outside. Needless to say, out of the 15 I had, only about 6 or 8 of them came up in the Spring. (This was 15 or so years ago and my memory isn't the best) The safest way to allow your Russian tortoise to brumate is in the house, either in a refrigerator, or a box of shredded paper. Now-a-days, my Russians are in a cinderblock house on the carport. There's a layer of leaves in the bottom, then the tortoises, then I fill up the area with more leaves. This area is cool, quiet and safe. It doesn't freeze, but the temperature stays in the low 40sF.

    It's just not safe for a brumating Russian tortoise to be allowed to get wet. If it snows in your area, chances are good the ground won't be wet, and the snow will act as an insulator for the tortoise. I hope it turns out ok for you.
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  8. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I’m glad to hear it’s dry and rocky.

    I’m pretty sure more than half of the Russian owners on this forum have a tortoise that escaped from elsewhere, mine did. They roam for miles in their home country and need secure, large enclosures to be at their best. He’s probably got forty or fifty years to go and he’s going to keep trying to get out every year. :) Mine is testing the perimeters of the yard very regularly just now, hoping to find some “better” hibernation space, it’s just what they do.

    I hate to jump on when you are stressed out but the Zoo Med house is far too small for a Russian. They need a LOT of space to walk around in, it’s what they’re designed for. Four by Eight is the minimum recommended size for an adult Russian. A little later you might take a look at the Russian care sheet or just check out the enclosures sub forum.
  9. Animals1315

    Animals1315 New Member

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    I'm intending to eventually get him something bigger and make a larger one just hasn't happened yet. I also take him out quite a bit. I just have no idea how he got off the deck. And I know everyone's lost there lost tortoise at least once. So I knew it was bound to happen eventually. We had one of those cement mixing tubs before but I needed something with a lid since I recently acquired a cat and she liked trying to use his dirt as a litter box. I had gotten the tortoise house for when he was to be outside on the deck to get sun for when I'm not around and take him for at least a good hour walk in the grass later in the day and a full day on weekends.
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