Hibernation worries

Roodlepoo

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
Hi, I'm hoping for some advice on my 1yr old Russian's first hibernation please. I wasn't going to hibernate him this year as he is very young and also had quite a bad case of worms when I got him. (Luckily my vet prescribed medication and his last poo sample was clear of worms before he started to hibernate.) He had also put on nearly 15g in the space of 2 months taking him up to 77g on the 8th Nov. He started to slow down naturally and lost his appetite all on his own, it happened gradually over about a 3wk period but he was having regular soaks and I'm pretty sure that his gut is empty. I was leaving his heat lamp on during the day until recently but his bed is in the cool end of his table anyway but I have now switched it off. As I'm new to this I have been quite worried about him and if I'm doing things correctly for him so have been getting him out of bed a couple of times a week just to check that he looks OK, eyes, bum, shell and he seems fine. I weighed him on Dec 10th, he was 74g so only lost 3g in a month. Does this all sound OK to you guys? Is there something else I should be doing? Just want to do the best for my boy so any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks xx
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
For a true brumation (the correct word for what torts do), his temp needs to be lowered to around 40°F (4-5°C) in order to slow his metabolic functions and respiratory rate. This slowdown is how they survive for months with no food or water.

Between not being cold enough and you waking him so often, he is using up his body resources too quickly, and could die.

I'm just figuring that since you didn't mention actively cooling him, that it wasn't done. If you did chill him, good!

I must stop for now. Someone else will make suggestions on what you should do at this point. Personally, if he is not at proper temp, 4-5°C, I would discontinue brumation.

@Tom
@RosemaryDW
@jsheffield
 

Roodlepoo

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
For a true brumation (the correct word for what torts do), his temp needs to be lowered to around 40°F (4-5°C) in order to slow his metabolic functions and respiratory rate. This slowdown is how they survive for months with no food or water.

Between not being cold enough and you waking him so often, he is using up his body resources too quickly, and could die.

I'm just figuring that since you didn't mention actively cooling him, that it wasn't done. If you did chill him, good!

I must stop for now. Someone else will make suggestions on what you should do at this point. Personally, if he is not at proper temp, 4-5°C, I would discontinue brumation.

@Tom
@RosemaryDW
@jsheffield
OK thanks, someone else has suggested I should start to gradually wake him up too so I'll do that thanks again xx
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
Your tortoise is very small for hibernation. Personally, I wouldn’t choose to hibernate one that small.

Karen is correct about the hibernation temper. Your tortoise hasn’t done so.It has just been inactive.

You need to take charge here and convince this tortoise that summer has arrived.

1. Check the temperatures.
Your tortoise must be able to bask at 35-37C/95-100F at tortoise level directly under a basking lamp that is hanging vertically.

Your tortoise mustn’t get too cold at night. If temperatures drop below 18C/65F then your tort will take too long to warm up in the morning to get active. A ceramic heat emitter and thermostat may be required. Don’t use a red bulb for night heat; they’re not suitable for tortoises.

Respiratory infection is usually caused by the combination of cold and damp. Tortoises need warmth and humidity to be healthy. This is another reason that temperatures mustn’t be allowed to drop too far.


2. You are trying to recreate Summer
Temperature isn’t enough. The lights must be on and bright for 12-14 hours. Use a timer so they come on and go off at the same time each day. You may need additional LED lighting at this time of year to make the enclosure brighter without affecting temperature.

3. Preventing dehydration and weight loss
In periods of inactivity (except for proper hibernation) it is essential to soak your tortoise daily for at least 30 minutes in warm water. Get the temperature right and your tort will wallow and enjoy the warmth.

Link this to the natural activity cycle of your tortoise. Haul him out first thing every morning and pop him in a large flat bottomed bowl with high sides; a washing up bowl is ideal. The water should be deep enough to just come over the join between the shell and the plastron (undershell)

Feed greens wet and offer them immediately after the soak. Hopefully your tort will take some early on in the day.

Your tortoise may well do little else for the rest of the day, but starting the day with a soak will help prevent problems.

Photos of your enclosure and lighting will help us to offer more specific advice concerning your tortoise
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
Thank you for your photograph.

Your Russian is only a baby and needs a closed chamber not an open table like that. You can’t possibly achieve the temperature and humidity he needs to be healthy.

Some people use a portable greenhouse tent like this to close an open table
43B00E05-FA92-4ABE-A86B-689E58EAF6D6.jpeg

Please read this thread and compare it with what you are doing. You have some changes to make.
 

Roodlepoo

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
Thank you for your photograph.

Your Russian is only a baby and needs a closed chamber not an open table like that. You can’t possibly achieve the temperature and humidity he needs to be healthy.

Some people use a portable greenhouse tent like this to close an open table
View attachment 314012

Please read this thread and compare it with what you are doing. You have some changes to make.
Will do, many thanks 😊
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Greetings. Just wanted to pop in here and recommend that, in addition to what JoesMum has said, that you take a look at getting a new/better temp gauge and also place it in a better location. Those types of analog pet store temp gauges are notoriously inaccurate. Plus, you have it right beneath the lights. While we are at it, those really large stones are just taking up space In the enclosure, making it much smaller.

✅ Better gauges - https://www.acurite.com/shop-all/weather-instruments/thermometers-and-hygrometers.html

Good luck.

Next change... maybe the substrate. 😀😀
 

Roodlepoo

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
United Kingdom
Greetings. Just wanted to pop in here and recommend that, in addition to what JoesMum has said, that you take a look at getting a new/better temp gauge and also place it in a better location. Those types of analog pet store temp gauges are notoriously inaccurate. Plus, you have it right beneath the lights. While we are at it, those really large stones are just taking up space In the enclosure, making it much smaller.

✅ Better gauges - https://www.acurite.com/shop-all/weather-instruments/thermometers-and-hygrometers.html

Good luck.

Next change... maybe the substrate. 😀😀
Thanks for your reply, his substrate is a mixture of top soil and coco coir, what should I change it to?
 

RosemaryDW

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Newport Coast, CA
Welcome!

You can see he is a little dry from all the ridges he already has on his shell. Normally a captive raised tortoise will have a much smoother shell. It hasn’t hurt him but you want to correct the humidity as mentioned above. Lots of people in the UK use a grow tent as shown above. You can also close off what you have for now. Here is a fairly long and thorough thread about baby care: https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threa...or-other-herbivorous-tortoise-species.107734/. The indoor enclosures for babies look a bit overwhelming but they are actually pretty easy to hack. You can make a specific question in the enclosure subforum if you need help. Take a look down at the bottom for a few specific items for heat and temp checks.
 
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