I only have an outside enclosure for my Russian Tort and the winters are to cold where I live to let them hibernate outside. Should I just build an inside enclosure for them to live winter long or hibernate them in my small fridge at 40-45 degrees?
If this is the first year or less of owning your tort you should not hibernate them until next year. Have a fun year of knowing them and that they are actually well. You can though after the first keep them up every winter or hibernate. You don't have to hibernate.
Hi Slothboss! Where are you located? It's hard for me to imagine a climate that has a colder winter than Afghanistan, where so many of these tortoises are imported from.
Also, is your Russian wild caught (imported) or was it captive bred?
Whether you must hibernate is up for debate but if you have a wild caught tortoise that has been hibernating previously, the question is more complex. My wild caught tortoise is used to hibernating. She's not going to change her ways and I'm not going to force her. She hibernates in a fridge.
Again, hibernation is a debatable topic. There is no single right answer and you have time to research and make a decision.
I live in the Ohio River Valley and it dropped to -7 degrees last winter. I understand that when hibernating them in a fridge it needs to be 40-45 degrees. My tortoise is captive bred so that's why I'm seeking other opinions.
I'm not sure we know all there is to know about how Russians manage cold temperatures in the wild; the steppes where they live get quite cold in winter, temps can go as low as where you are. In those areas, however, the tortoises are theoretically able to burrow very far down into the earth where the temps are less brutal.
At any rate, I wouldn't leave my tortoise out in that weather either!
Russians do need to be kept quite cold or they won't go into hibernation. There are plenty of different opinions out there and most reflect 45 degrees and under, as you've already noted. I did so much reading last year that I can't remember which threads/articles I found most persuasive but the outcome was 38-40 and that's what we tried to keep. With a cheapish dorm fridge, we averaged 38-42. Our Russian remained fairly active around 45, both going into and coming out of hibernation so I'm glad we chose the lower range of temps.