My turtle decided to hibernate - too late?

landonewts

New Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Portland OR USA
A few months ago I adopted an Ornate Box Turtle from the shelter where I work. She was rescued from an unheated shed, where she had been living with 6 other tortoises in a plastic wading pool. She may be between 5-10 years old, at her size she is fully grown.

I got her a proper habitat - a tortoise box with a water dish just her size, full spectrum light, ceramic heater and "night" heater. She has a bark house on one side (the warmer side) where she was spending most of her time, and an enclosed/covered spot on the other side. Substrate is Eco Earth and sphagnum moss. I mist once or twice a day. I've been very careful to give her all the right care, Lucky for me, she was readily eating everything offered - fruits, veggies, hard cooked eggs, calcium-dusted crickets and super worms.

Four days ago she went into the covered/.cooler area of her habitat, buried herself in the substrate (also under a pillow of moss) and won't come out. She's alive and responsive, I check on her daily, but I'm worried since most turtles and tortoises hibernate/brumate in the fall, and it's almost February. My plan had been to let her recover this year, eat and get healthy, and see about hibernating her this coming Fall.

I'm concerned that she isn't yet healthy enough to stand a full three month hibernation. I am a little reluctant to dig her out, though. Although I am sure her "clock" is off. I can't get her in to see a vet for a couple of days. So... asking the forum for any wisdom you can share. What would YOU do?
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
19,752
Location (City and/or State)
CA
if she is trying to hibernate obviously she's either too cold or the light cycles too short those are really the only reasons why they try to hibernate. if she's warm enough she's not going to hibernate so I ask you what temperature is it she being kept at please?
 

landonewts

New Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Portland OR USA
I have a couple of thermometers, both designed for turtle/tortoise habitats. One is the "point and shoot" kind, the other a combination thermometer/humidity gauge.

Looks like temps range around 80-85 during the day, depending on where she is in the box. (In her bark house, where she spent most of the day, it was probably more like 75.) I had read that it's good to have temperature zones, and keep it between 75-85 in the habitat.

I had been turning off the ceramic heater and the full-spectrum at night and just using the "night" heat lamp at night. Maybe I should leave the ceramic heater on 24 hours a day?
 

landonewts

New Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Portland OR USA
I am going to install a timer on the lights and heat, and have taken her out of her hiding spot for now. She is under the heat lamps having a snack of berries, kale hard cooked egg and worms. Tomorrow it's off to the vet. Would still love any advice the forum has to offer, though!
 

lisa127

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
4,323
Location (City and/or State)
NE Ohio
Keep uvb lighting on for 14 hours a day and provide gentle heat at night.
 

landonewts

New Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Portland OR USA
Thanks, everyone!

Took Scully to the vet, and the vet agrees that more heat and light, along with a different diet, may help. He also told me that in my climate/zone (Portland, OR) it's impossible to hibernate/brumate a Western Box Turtle naturally, and he sees no benefit to doing it artificially. He recommended "summer" conditions all year 'round. So I am altering her habitat, adding some more heat lamps, and trying an enhanced diet. She's now eating a lot better, and looks great.

Thanks, forum!
 

Turtlemamaof4

New Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2016
Messages
4
I have not found that to be true. I'm in Northern CA and my outdoor boxies hibernate each year. Last year, I worried about one who waited until January to hibernate and I tried to " talk him out of it" with a bunch of different techniques. Eventually I gave up and put him back in his happy place (outdoor habitat) and under he went. At the end of March, right on schedule, out he came. But to be honest, I don't go too crazy with thermometers and light. Nature seems ok for a habitat with good light balance. Just an opinion though. Sounds like you have experts on board! Hoping for happy healthy turtles for you!
 

landonewts

New Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Portland OR USA
I have not found that to be true. I'm in Northern CA and my outdoor boxies hibernate each year. Last year, I worried about one who waited until January to hibernate and I tried to " talk him out of it" with a bunch of different techniques. Eventually I gave up and put him back in his happy place (outdoor habitat) and under he went. At the end of March, right on schedule, out he came. But to be honest, I don't go too crazy with thermometers and light. Nature seems ok for a habitat with good light balance. Just an opinion though. Sounds like you have experts on board! Hoping for happy healthy turtles for you!

Thanks for this perspective. I'm not sure our climate up here in Portland is as friendly as NoCal, though. But I was wondering if anyone on the West Coast had had luck hibernating their box turtles outdoors.
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top