Is tortoise hibernating itself?

jh0101

New Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2021
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
West, Nebraska
Hello all. I have had one Russian tortoise for 6 years that I’ve never hibernated. Eight months ago I adopted a second Russian that I have no information about its previous care, but it’s appeared in good health since. I don’t know it’s age, but she’s a few inches longer than my other female who would be 8-9 years of age. I would say 7 days ago (end of February) the newest tortoise seemingly burrowed inside it’s hide and has been in there since, unless I’ve taken it out myself. It hasn’t touched its food, except for a tiny nibble after I took it out a few days ago to soak it, since I was concerned it wasn’t eating. After the soak, it stayed under the heat lamp for a while then returned to it’s hide and has been there since. When I took it out for the soak it was active, it didn’t seem like it was under any duress or sick (the eyes looked fine, it’s legs pushed against my hand as strong as before, etc). It’s cage’s temperatures are right and it’s UVB lighting is fine as well. The hide she’s in is a essentially a 18” by 18” wooden box in one corner of the cage, and it has two entrances. It looks like she’s barricaded both openings with dirt, which she has never done before.

Could the tortoise be trying to hibernate itself, or should I be worried about something else? I thought maybe her previous owners maybe have hibernated her, and she’s trying to do it herself now? I will add, I live in the Midwest, so 2-ish weeks ago we were hit by that terrible cold, and it did affect the general temperature inside my house, nothing drastic - 6 or 7 degrees at most. The heat lamps stayed on as normal. Could this change in weather have affected it and caused it to try to hibernate? If it’s trying to hibernate, should I let it do its thing and it will come out of it eventually, or can I take it out of this state by trying to make it more active?

Thanks.
 

starfish

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Newquay
Hello all. I have had one Russian tortoise for 6 years that I’ve never hibernated. Eight months ago I adopted a second Russian that I have no information about its previous care, but it’s appeared in good health since. I don’t know it’s age, but she’s a few inches longer than my other female who would be 8-9 years of age. I would say 7 days ago (end of February) the newest tortoise seemingly burrowed inside it’s hide and has been in there since, unless I’ve taken it out myself. It hasn’t touched its food, except for a tiny nibble after I took it out a few days ago to soak it, since I was concerned it wasn’t eating. After the soak, it stayed under the heat lamp for a while then returned to it’s hide and has been there since. When I took it out for the soak it was active, it didn’t seem like it was under any duress or sick (the eyes looked fine, it’s legs pushed against my hand as strong as before, etc). It’s cage’s temperatures are right and it’s UVB lighting is fine as well. The hide she’s in is a essentially a 18” by 18” wooden box in one corner of the cage, and it has two entrances. It looks like she’s barricaded both openings with dirt, which she has never done before.

Could the tortoise be trying to hibernate itself, or should I be worried about something else? I thought maybe her previous owners maybe have hibernated her, and she’s trying to do it herself now? I will add, I live in the Midwest, so 2-ish weeks ago we were hit by that terrible cold, and it did affect the general temperature inside my house, nothing drastic - 6 or 7 degrees at most. The heat lamps stayed on as normal. Could this change in weather have affected it and caused it to try to hibernate? If it’s trying to hibernate, should I let it do its thing and it will come out of it eventually, or can I take it out of this state by trying to make it more active?

Thanks.
My Russian Tortoise is the same age, he has been with us since June 2020 he was fine till December this is our first winter as I was asked to take him in. He lives on a tortoise table with a basking light and a separate sleeping area, he has been out a few time to go under the lamp but has not eaten since December I have not seen him drink water but I put fresh water food out every day . If I lift him out of his sleeping area he seems strong will look at food then water but not drink or eat. I think I made him angry one day as I kept putting him next to food, he climbed on his food plate and literally spread the food everywhere and went back to bed, he has not been to the toilet at all in this time. If he is hibernating how long will it last. This is the first time I have been on this site so hopefully you will be able to to help us.
 
Last edited:

starfish

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Newquay
My Russian Tortoise is the same age, he has been with us since June 2020 he was fine till December this is our first winter as I was asked to take him in. He lives on a tortoise table with a basking light and a separate sleeping area, he has been out a few time to go under the lamp but has not eaten since December I have not seen him drink water but I put fresh water food out every day . If I lift him out of his sleeping area he seems strong will look at food then water but not drink or eat. I think I made him angry one day as I kept putting him next to food, he climbed on his food plate and literally spread the food everywhere and went back to bed, he has not been to the toilet at all in this time. If he is hibernating how long will it last. This is the first time I have been on this site so hopefully you will be able to to help us.
Just a quick update after my last post, my tortoise was in hibernation , he is now up and well and eating . So now I know for next time. Thanks for your reply 's it was very helpful .
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
20,647
Location (City and/or State)
UK
I wouldn't think he would be hibernating now unless your temps are far too low.
On the other hand if he is too hot he could burrow to cool down.
So first thing I'd do is check your temps.
Here is the caresheet for Russians in case you haven't found it - you can check the temp range there.

If you post some pics of his enclosure we can see if there's anything affecting his behaviour there.
You said he's on his own so it can't be bullying.
 

Lyn W

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
20,647
Location (City and/or State)
UK
Just a quick update after my last post, my tortoise was in hibernation , he is now up and well and eating . So now I know for next time. Thanks for your reply 's it was very helpful .
Did you have your own thread about this?
I'm glad he's fine but it doesn't sound like hibernating to me - maybe brumation? There are threads about hibernation you can read. Meanwhile I think you'll find the caresheet useful too
 

Cathie G

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Messages
8,783
Location (City and/or State)
Lancaster
Hello all. I have had one Russian tortoise for 6 years that I’ve never hibernated. Eight months ago I adopted a second Russian that I have no information about its previous care, but it’s appeared in good health since. I don’t know it’s age, but she’s a few inches longer than my other female who would be 8-9 years of age. I would say 7 days ago (end of February) the newest tortoise seemingly burrowed inside it’s hide and has been in there since, unless I’ve taken it out myself. It hasn’t touched its food, except for a tiny nibble after I took it out a few days ago to soak it, since I was concerned it wasn’t eating. After the soak, it stayed under the heat lamp for a while then returned to it’s hide and has been there since. When I took it out for the soak it was active, it didn’t seem like it was under any duress or sick (the eyes looked fine, it’s legs pushed against my hand as strong as before, etc). It’s cage’s temperatures are right and it’s UVB lighting is fine as well. The hide she’s in is a essentially a 18” by 18” wooden box in one corner of the cage, and it has two entrances. It looks like she’s barricaded both openings with dirt, which she has never done before.

Could the tortoise be trying to hibernate itself, or should I be worried about something else? I thought maybe her previous owners maybe have hibernated her, and she’s trying to do it herself now? I will add, I live in the Midwest, so 2-ish weeks ago we were hit by that terrible cold, and it did affect the general temperature inside my house, nothing drastic - 6 or 7 degrees at most. The heat lamps stayed on as normal. Could this change in weather have affected it and caused it to try to hibernate? If it’s trying to hibernate, should I let it do its thing and it will come out of it eventually, or can I take it out of this state by trying to make it more active?

Thanks.
Hello. I have a Russian and I'm no expert... but I do think they can feel that change in the weather. I don't hibernate and I will take my little guy out of his hide at least once a day if he ever tries to. I also just do regular care daily anyway during the winter. He does slow down but really if she was eating I wouldn't let her sleep for days. 🙂
 
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