Hibernating my Desert Tortoise

Denise1985

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When I picked up my Desert Tortoise to hibernate him, I notice that he has lost weight. Last year I hibernated him at 12.2 pounds. This year, he is 10.4 pounds and looks a little thin. That is a 15% weight loss. Is it safe to hibernate him? If not, what should I do?
 

Tom

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When I picked up my Desert Tortoise to hibernate him, I notice that he has lost weight. Last year I hibernated him at 12.2 pounds. This year, he is 10.4 pounds and looks a little thin. That is a 15% weight loss. Is it safe to hibernate him? If not, what should I do?

I would not hibernate him. You will need to make a large indoor enclosure and maintain summer temps and light cycles. Daily soaks should help.

If you don't feed Mazuri, I would get some and start. It is a great way to get nutrients and a little protein into an underweight tortoise.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Denise, and welcome to the Forum!

I have two female desert tortoises that I have to keep up every winter. One of them has an abscess on her nose that I just can't get rid of and the other one is chronically thin.

I put a sheet of rigid foam then a sheet of plywood down on the car port, then build a cinderblock house around the edge of it:

cinder block enclosure a.jpg cinder block enclosure b.jpg

I lined the inside with more rigid foam insulation then thin plywood over that to protect the foam from the tortoises.

Both of these tortoises have spent the winter in this temporary shelter for about 5 years now. It doesn't seem to bother them that they are contained in a smaller space (they are used to living outside in a very large yard).

There is a pig blanket across one end, a UVB Mercury Vapor bulb in the middle and a black light for overhead night time heat.

Giving them Mazuri is a good idea because it does pack on the weight, however, neither of these girls will eat it. I offer it daily and it goes uneaten. They pick around it and eat the greens and veggies. But I'm not giving up.

If your tortoise is used to living outside, you can't expect to set him up indoors in a little tub. He's going to need some space.
 

Ciri

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When I picked up my Desert Tortoise to hibernate him, I notice that he has lost weight. Last year I hibernated him at 12.2 pounds. This year, he is 10.4 pounds and looks a little thin. That is a 15% weight loss. Is it safe to hibernate him? If not, what should I do?

This is definitely a concern. That much weight loss is a sign of something wrong. It could be an infection, or a parasite, but I would not hibernate any desert tortoise who has lost 15% of their weight. They need to be at a comparable weight to the previous fall (assuming they were healthy at that time). For me, I would take the tortoise to a reptile specialist veterinarian as it is doubtful that he would survive hibernation at such a low weight. Please keep us posted as to how he does. I wish you all the best.
 
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