The winters here are too wet to allow outdoor brumation. I box mine up in dry leaves. They live outside, and stop eating on their own. Once they dig in and I don't see them coming out to sun anymore, I dig them up and put them into a dry cinderblock shelter and cover them with dry leaves. When the night temp in the spring is 50F or above steadily, I open the lid and allow the morning sun to shine in. After a couple weeks I see that they're all on top of the leaves, so I soak them and put them back in their yard.
Years ago, when I first got into Russians, I had gone to SoCal to a big importer store and purchased 30 Russians at $5 apiece. I shared them with another club member. I had my 15 outside and I allowed them to hibernate outside. In the spring, only 5 came up. I lost all the rest of them, I'm assuming because it was too wet for them to be outside. Ever since then I have brought them up to the cinderblock shelter and have had no further losses.
So sorry to hear you lost so many! Mine hibernate in their outside enclosure. They bury themselves inside shelters, so they stay dry. They have been doing it for years, Late October to late February, and come up ready for the sun. I just want to compare stories. Thanks!
It is damp near the beach where I am and also not very cold.
As a result, ours hibernates in a fridge. I’m very glad of it today, as it’s been raining steady here for two days and the place where she likes to hibernate on her own is flooded (again).
She’d certainly love to dig her own spot outside and in fact hibernated in our yard when we first found her; dug down while we were trying to find the owners.
The preperation is not so different, I suppose. She slows down and stops eating when the days get shorter and gets anxious looking for a “good” spot. Once she starts digging in earnest, she gets boxed up for the fridge! Basically she runs this part of the show.
Her date to go down is typically late October/early November depending on how much sun we’re getting. We bring her out when I see a week of good weather on the forecast for February.