Refrigerator hibernation

Tanyabobanya

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Ha ok.. thank you Karen and Tom for all the help. I finally went down to the basement and quietly stuck my hand into Dribble’s box, touched his leg after nothing I could hear with my hand on his shell, and I heard the hiss and felt him tuck into his shell. It was a big relief. I’ll check on Free, who is below him today. I peeked in as much as I could and noticed the news paper isn’t covering him anymore. I should bring a piece down. I covered the digital temp display because in the dark it’s shining a bright blue light. Not much of a photo but I didn’t want the flash to wake them ..
 

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KarenSoCal

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I heard the hiss and felt him tuck into his shell. It was a big relief.
Yes, I know that relief.

Continue swishing the door daily or every other day, and reach in and touch maybe every 2 weeks.

So you've finally done it! Congrats on overcoming your fear and sticking with us! I believe Dribble and Free are going to be just fine. And now you can relax, too.

Reconnect with us in March (or anytime you need to), and we'll watch the weather and work through the process of getting them out. It's not scary like what you've already done :). It's actually fun.

Happy Hanukkah!
 

RosemaryDW

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Yesterday I got an email from a woman I met on fb who knows tortoises well and she told me they can and will suffocate in the fridge and to take them out. This of course sent me into a panic while lighting the first candle for hanukah.

I don’t know how far down desert tortoises dig in their burrows so will not advise there but Russians dig deep and pack the earth very solid around them and I do mean solid. A Russian certainly isn’t going to suffocate in a fridge. Frankly I think mine could go an entire hibernation without my opening the door but while I check and weigh her far less often than I used to, I expect I’ll never be relaxed enough to just stick her in and leave her without weight checks.

Some of us are just always going to be nervous about tortoise care; I certainly am. :eek: This year we moved to a new fridge and container and figuring out how to get the temps right wasn’t easy, even though we started well in advance. Two months and an exceedingly heavy packing crate later, things are as they should be; I’d checked on her a few times but realized yesterday we hadn’t weighed her in a month.

It’s never gotten easy but it has gotten easier.
 

RosemaryDW

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@RosemaryDW
Would you help alleviate Tanya's concern re' suffocation in a fridge? Her 2 DT's are already in a minifridge. Maybe post a pic of inside your tort occupied winter quarters?

I’m not sure my picture is useful these days. Until this year’s growth, Addy was in the mini fridge setup with water bottles just as shown by the materials at under “safer hibernation” posted by the Tortoise Trust, minus the air tubing: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm. It worked perfectly well.

This year my husband bought a beverage chiller not unlike Tanya’s. Overkill in my opinion but he claims he did it “all for me.” Okay, sure. I sent you to Home Depot for a dent and ding apartment-size fridge, not a spaceship. Lol

We did buy a heavy packing crate for her this year as well, she dug through so many things. I can’t see her but that means she isn’t seeing any light, either. And she dang well can’t get out of it. Too big for a mini fridge, though.

F5354B5B-D838-4C42-8850-BF5C46C0C54B.jpeg
 
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Tanyabobanya

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Yes, I know that relief.

Continue swishing the door daily or every other day, and reach in and touch maybe every 2 weeks.

So you've finally done it! Congrats on overcoming your fear and sticking with us! I believe Dribble and Free are going to be just fine. And now you can relax, too.

Reconnect with us in March (or anytime you need to), and we'll watch the weather and work through the process of getting them out. It's not scary like what you've already done :). It's actually fun.

Happy Hanukkah!

Hi Karen and everyone else who sees this!
I hope you’re all doing well, staying sanitized and as calm as can be.
It’s March and my 2 desert tortoises have been brumating/hibernating in a beverage cooler in our basement since mid /late December.
Any advice on when to take them out and how gradually?The advice I plan on following is to put them in lukewarm water but I'm nervous. I haven’t weighed them or taken them out at all. Once in a while I touched their back legs and got the hiss sound and pulling in. Each time I went to open the door for air I thought, what if they don’t hiss, don’t move, what if they aren’t alive and it’s my fault? Etc etc. thank you!!
Tanya
 

Tom

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Hi Karen and everyone else who sees this!
I hope you’re all doing well, staying sanitized and as calm as can be.
It’s March and my 2 desert tortoises have been brumating/hibernating in a beverage cooler in our basement since mid /late December.
Any advice on when to take them out and how gradually?The advice I plan on following is to put them in lukewarm water but I'm nervous. I haven’t weighed them or taken them out at all. Once in a while I touched their back legs and got the hiss sound and pulling in. Each time I went to open the door for air I thought, what if they don’t hiss, don’t move, what if they aren’t alive and it’s my fault? Etc etc. thank you!!
Tanya
What I usually do is wait for a stretch of weather that is going to be nice and sunny. No rain. When I see a stretch of 10 days in the near future with sun and temps in the 70s-80s I start the process of waking them up. I usually adjust the temp up on the fridge for a few days first too. I hibernate DTs at around 50, so I'll slowly bring it up to 55-60. After a day or two of that, I bring them out and soak them. I like to put them outside on a cool morning, again 50s or 60s, and let them warm up outside. I find that it helps to have a heated house outside for them too. This way, after waking them, I can keep nights in the low 60s if we have another cold spell, after I've already awakened them, and if we have several cold rainy days in a row, as we sometimes get in April or May even, I can put a heat lamp in the box to simulate some warm sunshine. This way, they get the best of all possible worlds.
 

KarenSoCal

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Hi, Tanya! I've been watching for you to resurface!

I wait til the weather is cooperative, just like Tom. I raise the temp in the fridge slowly, as far as I can go. Then I turn it off until the next day, and open the door.

By then he's at room temp, and ready to soak.

Last year I put him in a huge cardboard box for a week inside. I liked being able to watch him closely until he was eating. Other years I just put him outside. I block his burrows off until I'm sure he's fully awake, eating, and pooping. He has an igloo with dirt in it, and if it's cool I block him in with a bunch of shadecloth stuffed in the entrance. If we got rainy and cold, I'd bring him inside.

I don't have a heated house for him, but it's a great idea to help out with the colder nights. So far, I've just managed by bringing him in, since there's only one of him.

I'm going to wait til the middle of March to reduce the likelihood of a cold streak.
 

OvenJames

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I have a Russian tortoise who I'll be brumating in a fridge this winter... the temps are stable in the range from 36 to 40 degrees, and I feel he'll be safer than he would be in my garage or basement (from temperature fluctuations too high or low, predation, flooding, etc.), so that's what I'm doing.

There is a lot of dated or simply inaccurate husbandry information out there (Facebook is nice for chatting and sharing pics of your tortoise, but not really for reliable information), but I trust the people and experience here on TFO.

Good luck with your tort... let us know how things go.

Jamie
Thank you for sharing the useful insights. I also have a russian tortoise and planning to get more late this year. Your advice will be helpful for me
 

Tanyabobanya

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Hi Karen and everyone else who sees this!
I hope you’re all doing well, staying sanitized and as calm as can be.
It’s March and my 2 desert tortoises have been brumating/hibernating in a beverage cooler in our basement since mid /late December.
Any advice on when to take them out and how gradually?The advice I plan on following is to put them in lukewarm water but I'm nervous. I haven’t weighed them or taken them out at all. Once in a while I touched their back legs and got the hiss sound and pulling in. Each time I went to open the door for air I thought, what if they don’t hiss, don’t move, what if they aren’t alive and it’s my fault? Etc etc. thank you!!
Tanya


hi Karen and all,
It’s raining, we are quarantined, how is everyone doing with this insanity? I hope on the healthier side of not. I have been opening fridge door but because of rain haven’t made a move to take them out. I’m afraid to check if they are breathing and alive. What if they weren’t? I can’t leave the house and .. I’d be devastated. Praying all is well. Anyhow just checking in. 🌈
Tanya
 

KarenSoCal

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Glad to hear from you, Tanya!

I'm quarantined too, but actually, I don't much mind it. I am distressed about the overall situation, but the quarantine gives me the chance to just stay home.

Tanya, I have had our nightmare happen...I found Chug dead in his fridge on Wed morning. I am devastated; I have no idea what happened.

But there is no reason for you to be scared! I totally believe in fridge brumation in quirky climates like ours.

Last fall, you had your 2 in some enclosure in your basement. If you brought them out, can you put them back in there until it stops raining and warms up? You would want to have about 80 deg by day, and 60's by night, with a nice bright, warm basking light.

Hopefully they will only be in for a week or so. Decent weather can't be that far off, right?
 

Tanyabobanya

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Oh no! I’m so sorry. That’s awful.
it stopped raining but is not that warm out in the day, though sun is shining and warm when sitting in it. I don’t have indoor enclosures for them because I got rid of the 2 bookshelves I was using when I put them in fridge, they were falling apart. With all this time home, I seem to have less time to get anything done because online schooling for a teen and tween is no joke. I need to get something Somehow ASAP. I don’t know if homedepot or any place like that is even open.
Their outdoor enclosure is fine and actually grew lots of weeds and dandelion over this rain spell. I have 2 heat mats out there in boxes on each side that have ramps to getup to, but I took the ramps off because Free, the feistier one, decided to start climbing over the railing and free falling onto the dirt after years of using it as a hose away/sleep. After that theyused the space under the boxes (like lofts) to sleep, sometimes together, sometimes apart. If I put the mats directly on top of dirt would that be ok? And I need to put a wall in to create 2 separate spaces so they aren’t together. I put a plank of wood in that left enough space to use entire enclose but one of them knocked it over. I didn’t dig it deep enough into the dirt probably. I wish I could give them both back to my mom but she’s got the parents and one offspring, all adults, in her backyard.
I’lll lower fridge temp a little over 2-3 days? Please let them be ok. I really want to find them homes. If anyone out there is looking for a 5 year old desert tortoise please let me know. I am attached but in over my head. I have one baby from the same parents here as well. My mom says they’d be fine all together even if we get a dog, they can coexist. But it doesn’t seem right to me and I foresee dominance and if the baby is a female she’s in trouble. Sorry this got so long and I’m sorry for your loss!!
tanya
 

KarenSoCal

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Oh no! I’m so sorry. That’s awful.
it stopped raining but is not that warm out in the day, though sun is shining and warm when sitting in it. I don’t have indoor enclosures for them because I got rid of the 2 bookshelves I was using when I put them in fridge, they were falling apart. With all this time home, I seem to have less time to get anything done because online schooling for a teen and tween is no joke. I need to get something Somehow ASAP. I don’t know if homedepot or any place like that is even open.
Their outdoor enclosure is fine and actually grew lots of weeds and dandelion over this rain spell. I have 2 heat mats out there in boxes on each side that have ramps to getup to, but I took the ramps off because Free, the feistier one, decided to start climbing over the railing and free falling onto the dirt after years of using it as a hose away/sleep. After that theyused the space under the boxes (like lofts) to sleep, sometimes together, sometimes apart. If I put the mats directly on top of dirt would that be ok? And I need to put a wall in to create 2 separate spaces so they aren’t together. I put a plank of wood in that left enough space to use entire enclose but one of them knocked it over. I didn’t dig it deep enough into the dirt probably. I wish I could give them both back to my mom but she’s got the parents and one offspring, all adults, in her backyard.
I’lll lower fridge temp a little over 2-3 days? Please let them be ok. I really want to find them homes. If anyone out there is looking for a 5 year old desert tortoise please let me know. I am attached but in over my head. I have one baby from the same parents here as well. My mom says they’d be fine all together even if we get a dog, they can coexist. But it doesn’t seem right to me and I foresee dominance and if the baby is a female she’s in trouble. Sorry this got so long and I’m sorry for your loss!!
tanya
According to my weather report, on Mon it's supposed to be 80 here, and stay in the 80's for several days at least. Nights in the 60's.

If your forecast is close to that, even high 70's days/ high 50's nights, you could put them outside. Or if nights are too cold, put them out in day and bring them in at night. You could just put each one in a large cardboard box.

Re' your heat mats...I've never used one, but I understand they can get crazy hot. But as long as there is plenty of space to completely get off of it, maybe they could be used. Not sure about that though.
 

KarenSoCal

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Thank you.. yes forecast is same, I’m in Los Angeles
Great! First, reach in and feel each one move. Then that will be off your mind.

Then up the temp in the fridge 2 or 3 deg. for 24 hrs. Then do it again. Time it so whichever day you take them out is warm and sunny. Soak them really well every day until they are back in their normal routine. This can take a week to 10 days.
 

Tanyabobanya

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If it’s at 50 degrees.. is that too warm to be in the fridge? . I’ve lost track of days, I’m not sure when I should take them out. I’ve lowered it a couple degrees probably the last time I messaged you and before that another couple degrees. Nervous to check them.
 

Tanyabobanya

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I just read through this thread and it says to wait till 55/60 degrees so I’ll put the temp up a little and maybe by the day after tomrrow I can take them out. I’m worried I’ve left them too long in there.
 

KarenSoCal

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I just read through this thread and it says to wait till 55/60 degrees so I’ll put the temp up a little and maybe by the day after tomrrow I can take them out. I’m worried I’ve left them too long in there.
They should be fine. Yes, take them out day after tomorrow. They will probably be groggy and slow. It can take a week to fully wake u. They might not eat well for several days too. Main thing to do is soak them as soon as you get them out, and daily until they are in their normal routine. Nice long soaks.
 

Tanyabobanya

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They should be fine. Yes, take them out day after tomorrow. They will probably be groggy and slow. It can take a week to fully wake u. They might not eat well for several days too. Main thing to do is soak them as soon as you get them out, and daily until they are in their normal routine. Nice long soaks.

Forecast says rain today until Thursday. Do you think I should keep them hibernating until after rain?
 

KarenSoCal

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Forecast says rain today until Thursday. Do you think I should keep them hibernating until after rain?
If you no longer have anywhere inside to put them, then yes, keep them asleep.

Do you have a spare bathroom? You could put them in the tub for a couple days while they wake. Just put a space heater in the bathroom to warm it up for them.
 

Tanyabobanya

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Do you think they would be aggressive with each other in a bathtub? I don’t have a space heater.. oh I do have 2 heat mats. By Friday the rain stops, but back Sunday and then it looks clear. If it’s better to take them out sooner than that maybe I could put one in tub and one somewhere else. I really want to re home them with someplace amazing in the desert. My younger kid wouldn’t forgive me but I just want them to be happy. I still have the baby inside. I hope you’re healthy and not too stir crazy!
tanya
 

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