How to properly hibernate my two desert tortoises

Melissa0617

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Hi, I first want to say thank you for everyone on this forum. I am a proud custodian owner of to gopherus desert boy tortoises. Yea thanks to this forum I found out the truth about my tortoises not being females lol. Any way I do live in the desert and they have an outdoor habitat that I have divided in 1/2 after finding out they are boys. Though my honest concern is the winter and this will be there 1st winter in there new outdoor habitat. They both have outdoor burrows. Though we do unfortunately get roof rats and mice in the winter. I read some horrible stuff. So I would like if anyone can please give me advice on how to build / buy to keep them safe in my garage during hibernation vs outside. I don’t want to worry about them every day all winter. Plus my one buddy dug so far I can’t ever see him only if he decides to come out. Thank you again:)
 

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thelifeofbuttons

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Hi! How is it going with your DTs? Did you ever get an answer to your question about hibernation? I also have two CDT and once they have settled in for their winter nap (which for me, was just about two weeks ago), and the temps start dropping rather low at night (~50*F), I move them each into two large rubbermaid bins with Orchard grass for them to burrow down into. The lids have holes for plenty of ventilation. And that's where they will stay until March/April... Around the end of February, I start listening and checking for regular movement. It's pretty wild how mine have always hunkered down and even with really hot days and weeks that pop up during out winter, they stay asleep until Spring. So, that's my experience... Hope that helps. Good Luck!
 

Tom

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Hi, I first want to say thank you for everyone on this forum. I am a proud custodian owner of to gopherus desert boy tortoises. Yea thanks to this forum I found out the truth about my tortoises not being females lol. Any way I do live in the desert and they have an outdoor habitat that I have divided in 1/2 after finding out they are boys. Though my honest concern is the winter and this will be there 1st winter in there new outdoor habitat. They both have outdoor burrows. Though we do unfortunately get roof rats and mice in the winter. I read some horrible stuff. So I would like if anyone can please give me advice on how to build / buy to keep them safe in my garage during hibernation vs outside. I don’t want to worry about them every day all winter. Plus my one buddy dug so far I can’t ever see him only if he decides to come out. Thank you again:)
I didn't see your post the first time around. Scroll down to post number 19 in this thread for all the info: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/looking-for-an-rt-hibernation-mentor.128790/
 

thelifeofbuttons

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Tom

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Great post, as always Tom. Thanks for linking it. I've never heard of using a fridge for hibernation. Are you talking about an actual kitchen fridge or freezer?
Fridge. Freezer is too cold. It needs to be around 45-50 for DTs to hibernate. Above ground in SoCal is too inconsistent. Many die when the temps fluctuate too much.
 

thelifeofbuttons

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Fridge. Freezer is too cold. It needs to be around 45-50 for DTs to hibernate. Above ground in SoCal is too inconsistent. Many die when the temps fluctuate too much.
okay. interesting. Recently we replaced our roof with a foam roof (1962 flat roof) and it's amazing how much consistent the temp in our garage is...it's cool in the heat and not freezing when the temps drop below 40. I've been impressed. Nonetheless, you're right...it's 85* outside right now, and still 70* on the floor of my garage. Yikes! I'd like to learn more about the refrigerator, so I just started googling it. I think my warning bells go off in my head with all the time I heard to never play in fridge as a kid, as one could suffocate. Is that not an issue? I actually have a functional yet unused fridge in our garage, literally sitting next to the rubbermaid bins where our CDT tortoises are napping. I don't have a fridge thermometer for it, but I'll run and get one so I can monitor the interior temp for a week or so, before I commit to that situation. Thanks for the information, and I'll go back to reread you post, and do some more research.

Also, since I have you, I have been looking all over the forum for your plans on a heated outdoor house for Sulcatas, and the only link I could find is from 2013, and does not show your photos. Do you have an more up-to-date link? I'm hoping to power through building something this weekend, before the holiday.
Thank you!
 

thelifeofbuttons

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okay. interesting. Recently we replaced our roof with a foam roof (1962 flat roof) and it's amazing how much consistent the temp in our garage is...it's cool in the heat and not freezing when the temps drop below 40. I've been impressed. Nonetheless, you're right...it's 85* outside right now, and still 70* on the floor of my garage. Yikes! I'd like to learn more about the refrigerator, so I just started googling it. I think my warning bells go off in my head with all the time I heard to never play in fridge as a kid, as one could suffocate. Is that not an issue? I actually have a functional yet unused fridge in our garage, literally sitting next to the rubbermaid bins where our CDT tortoises are napping. I don't have a fridge thermometer for it, but I'll run and get one so I can monitor the interior temp for a week or so, before I commit to that situation. Thanks for the information, and I'll go back to reread you post, and do some more research.

Also, since I have you, I have been looking all over the forum for your plans on a heated outdoor house for Sulcatas, and the only link I could find is from 2013, and does not show your photos. Do you have an more up-to-date link? I'm hoping to power through building something this weekend, before the holiday.
Thank you!
@Tom Nevermind about my comment about the Sulcata House... I found it!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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okay. interesting. Recently we replaced our roof with a foam roof (1962 flat roof) and it's amazing how much consistent the temp in our garage is...it's cool in the heat and not freezing when the temps drop below 40. I've been impressed. Nonetheless, you're right...it's 85* outside right now, and still 70* on the floor of my garage. Yikes! I'd like to learn more about the refrigerator, so I just started googling it. I think my warning bells go off in my head with all the time I heard to never play in fridge as a kid, as one could suffocate. Is that not an issue? I actually have a functional yet unused fridge in our garage, literally sitting next to the rubbermaid bins where our CDT tortoises are napping. I don't have a fridge thermometer for it, but I'll run and get one so I can monitor the interior temp for a week or so, before I commit to that situation. Thanks for the information, and I'll go back to reread you post, and do some more research.

Also, since I have you, I have been looking all over the forum for your plans on a heated outdoor house for Sulcatas, and the only link I could find is from 2013, and does not show your photos. Do you have an more up-to-date link? I'm hoping to power through building something this weekend, before the holiday.
Thank you!
In the old days, fridges were airtight, and the doors latched from the outside. Nowadays, they all have some ventilation and the doors don't latch at all. My first few years using a fridge I used a tube from a ball point pen to allow air through the seal of the for on my fridge. Then I took apart a couple of old one to make into incubators and saw the hidden areas where air can get in and out. I stopped using the pen body to break the seal and never had any problems.

70 is definitely too warm.

In this thread I talk about how to how this species and get a little bit into hibernation. It was always a problem for me due to our erratic weather in spring and fall. One day its a high of 50 with a low of 30, and two days later its a high of 90 with a low of 48. Same thing in spring when I'm trying to bring them out of hibernation. I get them up, soaked and warmed in March or April when temps are warm and sunny, and then we always have that cold rainy spell in May for a week or two. The box shown in my care sheet does several things. It allows me to keep them outside full time, but I can thwart Mother Nature's best efforts to kill my tortoises with crazy weather. It keeps them safe from predators at night. It keeps them from getting too cold at night or too how on summer days. I'm able to set ambient where ever I want it for the time of year, and the lights allow my tortoises to warm up and pass food out of the gut before hibernation, and also bask and get warm during the cold spells in spring after hibernation. Wild DTs live mostly underground with out these wild temperature swings we get on the surface. These boxes help tame down the extreme temps and allow me to manage things as needed.
 

thelifeofbuttons

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All very good information. thank you! I've read through the different posts, and I will try out the refrigerator after I can be sure of the temperatures. And yes, our weather is erratic. I'm in Thousand Oaks, so just over the mountains from the ocean. I don't think we get as cold as you do at night, maybe just a couple nights each year dipping just a few degrees below 30*F. I appreciate what you said about not worrying about respiratory infections, if the temperatures are reliable for them. That makes a lot of sense, and disputes one of the main comments I see from people saying the marine and fog we get is not suitable for CDT, and so we shouldn't keep any in this area. Anyway, thank you, again. Always trying to do right and better by my tortoises.
 

Melissa0617

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Joined
Jul 21, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas Nevada
Hi! How is it going with your DTs? Did you ever get an answer to your question about hibernation? I also have two CDT and once they have settled in for their winter nap (which for me, was just about two weeks ago), and the temps start dropping rather low at night (~50*F), I move them each into two large rubbermaid bins with Orchard grass for them to burrow down into. The lids have holes for plenty of ventilation. And that's where they will stay until March/April... Around the end of February, I start listening and checking for regular movement. It's pretty wild how mine have always hunkered down and even with really hot days and weeks that pop up during out winter, they stay asleep until Spring. So, that's my experience... Hope that helps. Good Luck!
Hello and Ty for responding , I’m sorry I never responded I’m still learning how to use this forum. I wanted to ask do you keep them in a warm place? Honestly I ended up placing them in the house in the garage with an entire set up and lights and uv. I soak them every few weeks and don’t let them go into full hibernation. I did this because the vet said the first year I have them I shouldn’t until I know there pattern and I can prepare next year. It’s very stressful and I hope I’m doing the right thing. They only eat once in a while now too. They seem ok but....
 

thelifeofbuttons

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5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Messages
47
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello and Ty for responding , I’m sorry I never responded I’m still learning how to use this forum. I wanted to ask do you keep them in a warm place? Honestly I ended up placing them in the house in the garage with an entire set up and lights and uv. I soak them every few weeks and don’t let them go into full hibernation. I did this because the vet said the first year I have them I shouldn’t until I know there pattern and I can prepare next year. It’s very stressful and I hope I’m doing the right thing. They only eat once in a while now too. They seem ok but....
Hi! No worries... I'm always slow to respond, as I don't always see my notifications. Anyway, how old are your CDTs? It can be so stressful! I've also read it's good to keep them awake if they are sick/injured or you get to know their habits, but it's certainly not as easy as it sounds. Does our vet specialize in CDTs? Finding a vet who knows specifically about tortoises and CDTs is tricky in its own right. If they are older, and have been hibernating for many years before you owned them, it could be really tricky for them to "stay awake" so I'm sure they are just fine, but their biological clocks have slowed down their behaviors because they are in winter mode. Even in warm spring, coming out of hibernation, my two are very slow to get back into the swing of life, and as the weather warms their food consumption and movements increases as well, and overdrive in summer. I hibernate mine in a bin in the garage, but like Tom mentioned further up, our weather can be so erratic here in SoCal, last week it was 90*F then a few days after that, our power was shut off due to 65mph winds, and then this week, we got snow in Malibu Canyon. It's bonkers! I now realize, after researching more, I need to move to hibernating in a refrigerator. My temps are not nearly low enough consistently to be healthy for them...it should be around 40* consistently to maintain an adequate environment for hibernating. I will say this though...they sleep through it ALL. Once they decide to hibernate, they are zonked out until April. I'm sure they will be just fine, although they probably are not nearly as appreciative as they should be for all the hard work your doing tortoise mom. ;)
 

Melissa0617

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Jul 21, 2020
Messages
18
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas Nevada
Hi! No worries... I'm always slow to respond, as I don't always see my notifications. Anyway, how old are your CDTs? It can be so stressful! I've also read it's good to keep them awake if they are sick/injured or you get to know their habits, but it's certainly not as easy as it sounds. Does our vet specialize in CDTs? Finding a vet who knows specifically about tortoises and CDTs is tricky in its own right. If they are older, and have been hibernating for many years before you owned them, it could be really tricky for them to "stay awake" so I'm sure they are just fine, but their biological clocks have slowed down their behaviors because they are in winter mode. Even in warm spring, coming out of hibernation, my two are very slow to get back into the swing of life, and as the weather warms their food consumption and movements increases as well, and overdrive in summer. I hibernate mine in a bin in the garage, but like Tom mentioned further up, our weather can be so erratic here in SoCal, last week it was 90*F then a few days after that, our power was shut off due to 65mph winds, and then this week, we got snow in Malibu Canyon. It's bonkers! I now realize, after researching more, I need to move to hibernating in a refrigerator. My temps are not nearly low enough consistently to be healthy for them...it should be around 40* consistently to maintain an adequate environment for hibernating. I will say this though...they sleep through it ALL. Once they decide to hibernate, they are zonked out until April. I'm sure they will be just fine, although they probably are not nearly as appreciative as they should be for all the hard work your doing tortoise mom. ;)
Hi, well I have two males, one is 5 years old and the other is 10 years old. I live in Las Vegas and I completely understand with the weather situation. We actually had snow today here in Las Vegas. Actually yes her in Vegas Lone animal hospital specializes in exotic pets and the one doctor I go to specializes in CDT's. Im not going to lie it has been a lot of work trying to make sure they stay awake and have the right temp. in the garage. I have the baskin lights and heat lamps with the UV . I have been soaking them every 3 to 4 weeks . I have a beautiful outdoor habitat I built that i hope next winter they can hibernate. Im not sure if you read my previous posts but i also found out that I had two males when I offered to be a custodial care taker I was suppose to have a female and male lol so they don't fight. Well towards the end of the summer I noticed they weren't being very nice to one another so I had to separate them too. So in return makes the whole situation a little harder and more space lol. Well thank you for chatting and responding. Im looking forward to the warm weather again.
 
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