Help - our Hermann has been dug up from hibernation by an animal!

harrowtyke

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Bradford England
New to the forum - hi!

last summer we inherited a Herman’s after its owner decided it would be best living with us. This beautiful creature has always hibernated due to the UK climate and this winter was no different. She hibernated for her first winter here around October time.

This morning to our horror we’ve found her dug out from her hibernation place and on her back on our garden lawn. Looks like an animal (maybe a badger) has dug her up and then left her.

She seems fine but is still asleep, although she was clearly disturbed as her legs have moved. We’ve put her back where she hibernated but she’s exposed. See photo.

question is - what do we do now? It’s still pretty cold here but I’d expect her to be out of hibernation soon. Do we dig her back down to continue hibernation or bring her inside for the rest of winter?Or perhaps leave her outside but in an insulated box?

thanks

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Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
You should not be allowing your Hermanns to hibernate outside in the UK. The climate is too cold. They usually survive the winter but that doesnt mean its appropriate, and I know torts that didnt survive the winter, your basically entrusting your tort to a life or death survival struggle every year, especially now it is dropping below freezing more regularly. Then there is the obvious risk from predators, rats, etc. . . . I have had this argument before with people from the UK, please dont do this to your tort anymore, They should never be exposed to air and ground temps below 5c and we have had worse than that several times this winter alone.

In future if you hibernate your tort, hibernate in a cardoboard or wooden box with some substrate like coco-coir or similar and keep the tort in a temperature controlled fridge or at the very least in a secure but unheated part of your house or garage if you have one.

If it were my tort, I would wake it from its hibernatio and bring it inside. As your leaving it ouside all winter though, I suspect you probably dont have an indoor enclosure for it though?
 

harrowtyke

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Bradford England
No we don’t have an indoor enclosure - all we did is mirror what the previous owner did and the tort has always lived outside and hibernated in the garden. She’s 50 years old so guessed that’s what she was used to. Thanks for your advice however, I’ll do some further reading and try and work out best way forward for her.
 

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
Start with this - The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum

Please dont make the mistake of thinking that because your tort has lived 50 years this way that it is ok. Animals in the wild can survive some pretty terrible conditions, as a responsible pet owner you shouldnt recreate those terrible conditions for them, your goal should be to give them as perfect a life as possible, imo.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Welcome to the forum!

I would bring her in. First, put her in a cardboard box with some newspaper on the bottom. Then shred some paper and fill the box around her and over top of her. Close the box and put her in like a shed or garage or even a cold room...as long as there is no chance of freezing. If you don't have a garage or shed, do you have a room of your house that you could shut off the heat and open a window? This is only for Sunday and maybe part of Monday. You have a bit of shopping to do.

(I'll continue in a new post...)
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Then tomorrow, go shopping. You need a large plastic bin...the biggest one you can find, and also as deep as you can. Make sure to get the lid for it.

Swing by the pet store and get some substrate. Fine grade orchid bark is perfect. Here in the USA it's called Reptibark. I think it's called that in the UK too.

Next you need a light for basking and heating. An incandescent flood light bulb is the best. That would come from the hardware store. Note it's a flood, not a spot.

To hold the flood bulb, maybe you have a dome fixture? Using a bin, a dome would be the best to use. You will probably need to get this at the pet store, too. Make sure to get it with a ceramic socket, not plastic. The flood bulbs are pretty hot. The dome may come in handy some other time, and ceramic is more versatile.

The next issue is nighttime heat. For that you need to get a CHE (ceramic heating element), and a thermostat to control it. You would pick up both these items at the pet store.

I think that's the minimum you can get by with for a short term, temporary enclosure. You will cut a hole in the plastic bin lid slightly smaller than the diameter of the dome fixture. Line the hole with a few layers of aluminum foil to keep the plastic edges from melting. Then sit the dome with the flood bulb over the hole. You can cut a hole in a cardboard hide for him. Add food and water dishes and he'll be good til the weather cooperates.

You will want to warm him up slowly. For the first couple days just close the windows of his room and turn the house heat back on. Then you can turn on his flood bulb for a little while. Just go slow. Offer food and water and he'll be his old self in about a week.
 

Yossarian

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
I think its best to wake the tort now rather than let it continue to hibernate, mainly as a precaution. There are some things that can put them at risk during hibernation and since it was disturbed, potentially by a predator, I would err on the side of caution and slowly wake it as Karen explains.

Just thought I should explain why would wake it, I wasnt very clear earlier.
 
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