Relocating & Hibernation?

boxiemomma

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Hello:

I currently live outside Columbia, SC and will be relocating to Central, Maine (Avon area). I have had my boxies (2 males) for about 20 years and they live and hibernate outside year round in a great pen we built for them, we've never had any health problems with them they are both pretty strong and healthy because they live outdoors as they are suppose too. Question is will I be able to relocate them with me to a harsher winter climate and hibernate them in it? Yes we always prepare the soil and do leaf piles, my biggest concern is below freezing temps and the ground being able to freeze? Does anybody on here have any experience with anything like this? Thanks
 

mark1

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the plant hardiness zone is 4b -5a ? the northern extent i'm experienced with is 5b-6a , it's also as far north as i'm aware they naturally occur ...... i doubt they occur in 4b-5a , the reason probably being the short active season , possibly the ground temps , depth and length of time it stays frozen .......could they survive it left to their own devices ? maybe , maybe not a severe winter ....i'd think they'd need to go from a 4 month hibernation to an 8 month hibernation .with some help lengthening their active season , and preventing them from becoming frozen , i'd think they could handle it without too much problem ...... definitely more work than you been used too , you might not be able to just forget about them until they pop back up in the spring .......eastern box turtles do not dig down very deep , i'm certain they can freeze to some extent without issue , i think the duration and percent frozen is where fatal comes in ........ i got a NA wood turtle from southern florida in may and hibernated him the first winter he was here , they hibernate here at least 7 months ......
 

wellington

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Michigan has Box turtles. If you have the same kind that is native to Michigan and if you are the same zone then they would survive as long as you provide proper area for them to dig into. Also if you move soon enough for them to get used too their new digs and comfortable to hibernate. Otherwise you may have to keep them up or hibernate them yourself the first year.
Google search Michigan Box turtles and temp zone.
 

mark1

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i believe you will not find box turtles in michigan in 4b , you may find them in 5a , , in 5a i believe it will be very rare , and the zone will be bordering 5b ....... i believe the last eastern box turtle's reported in the UP of michigan was in 1977 , 1 in houghton and 1 in baraga , both have 5b plant zones in them .... it's a tough environment for them and it doesn't take much to extirpate them when they are surviving in such a borderline environment ....in lower michigan , last reported in wexford 1960 , isabella 1964 , clare 1994 , leelanau 1979 , benzie 1981 , these counties are 5a ....... i believe in michigan you will find them thriving in counties that are 6a ..... rare to extinct in 4b-5a .......... can they survive in 4b-5a , possibly , do they do well , doesn't appear so to me ......... i keep R.P. manni outside in northeast ohio until november , you never know until you try .........
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boxiemomma

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So the question becomes will they be able to survive taking all the hibernation pre-cautions, getting soil overturned and ready, large large leaf piles over soil etc....ok so they may be able to. So that question is now this, how will losing 2 months Mar-April that they come up from hibernation now in SC affect them? Will they come out because that is what they are used to? Would they stay down because their instincts are telling them too? I was always under the impression that the light cycle played a large roll in them coming out? If that is the case and that starts to happen in April-May, and the temps are ok but then fall at night can they survive? DO they just head on back into the leaf pile and wait it out? Don't get me wrong we have cold here in SC, they have been through snow and ice storms, but it doesn't last long like it will in Maine. I am grappling with the fact that they have been my babies since they were babies - 20 years of our lives and I would be devastated if I took them and something happened because of weather. And on the flip side if I had to re-home how do I make sure they are going to someone who cares and will care for them as I have? They came to us with some issues and I am not sure we will find anyone who want to take that on? And FYI, that latter of those options is the LAST thing I want to do....
 

Cherryshell

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Would putting them in some sort of container and sticking them in a mini-fridge during the colder months not work? I know its not as ideal as letting them do it on their own but having originally grown up in Mass, I can only imagine the winters are that much more brutal in Maine.
 

ZenHerper

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^ that

Doing these kinds of "experiments" with cherished family pets rarely works out well.

I would work out a way to keep them indoors part of the year. They could keep their schedule, be kept for their Winter rest somewhere safe and climate controlled, and then allowed to wake up on their natural Spring schedule.

As already noted, this is not a native species that far north, and there are reasons for that. Chiefly being that they do not over-winter below the frost line in mud or underwater.
 

jeff kushner

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I can appreciate the question and I'm shocked by the knowledge that guys here have on the zones. We did not have box turtles in Ann Arbor @ our apple orchard--roughly Newport drive/Bird rd along the Huron river in the early 60's. We did have a "Black turtle" about a foot long, "Tom" that would come out each year and hang out in the dog kennel so there were turtles, just never saw a box turtle until I came to MD.

My suggestion if really concerned for their safety would be to drop them off at a friends on your way North. There are several solid keepers that would ensure their well-being but it's hard to part with a decades long friendship too.

Good luck.....and enjoy Maine....beautiful up there!

jeff
 

mark1

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i don't think they come up until the ground temp has been near 50 for a week or so ., i don't believe daylight is a factor ....... i'd think that'd be mid to late may in maine .... i also think they'd be down by the end of september or early october ............

a limiting factor in the range of turtles is ground temp and successful nesting i'd think more so than dying from hibernating ...... there are turtles and tortoises whose active season is maybe 3 months of the year ...... as far as frost line , eastern box turtles in their northern most range do not dig below the frost line , i've not seen evidence of them ever going beyond 6"-8" below the surface , most don't go that deep , there is no doubt they are exposed to below freezing temps on a regular basis ..... i've also never seen them not come out of hibernation before the last frost here ....... mine been out for 3 weeks , and eating , it's going to snow tomorrow night ......

i believe if you give them a really good sunny hibernacula , and shorten their hibernation a bit they'd do fine ....... i would def consider letting them begin hibernating outside , dig them up before the ground freezes hard , put a temp probe under their leaf pile , put them in a fridge for a month or so , wake them up keep them in the house until it's good to put them out ....... SC snow and ice storms will be a bit different than not getting above freezing for 2-3 months ........ longest i think we've gone below freezing here was like 4 weeks , the ground gets like rock .......

myself , i would pick them a sunny spot for their pen and hibernacula , i'd cover the pen when it begins to get really cold , i'd leave them out as long as i could and still be able to find them . i'd bring them in , either put them in a fridge , or wake them and keep them in house for a couple months , put them back out when it's warm enough in their pen for them to be active ......... i've found if you let them hibernate as little as a month , they go through the winter indoors as if they had hibernated the full season ......

this makes a huge difference in ground and air temp , mine contain ponds(water) and lots of large rocks , acting as heat sinks .......... even when it's below zero , a little sun and it's like a whole different climate inside them .....i'd guess it's like 2 plant zones warmer........i believe it's doable JMO........

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jeff kushner

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I like Marks structure....and an excellent hypothesis on one of the chief limiting factors to the range of Box turtles. I would also suggest that none of us has ever seen a box turtle going below the frost line, here in MD it is roughly 30"!!

The idea of the structure is to extend livable climates, kind of what we do inside our own homes.....Mark has simply shown an expensive and easy to construct that same "climate extension" for his friends!! Very cool!


I do both both heat loads and numbers, for a living. The heat loading of the sun and lack of heat-shedding of Marks structure would support his claim of possibly 2 zones warmer It in fact, would result in rough numbers, a 40F delta on a 30F day, meaning properly sealed, the inside should approach 70F when it's freezing outside. That delta drops with the temp non-linearly. However, even in the dead-middle of an Ohio winter @ 5F, it's still well above freezing inside, as long as the sun is out......but remember that heat is stored as well and releases as it becomes cooler inside so the substrate will remain warmed for some period of time, depending on the make up and it sounds like Mark addressed that as well with his selection of ground make-up.

Now if I could only keep leaves out of my pond, w/o something that covers it up.... I'd be golden<LOL>!



jeff
 

boxiemomma

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This is our set up. Funny as I had just mentioned to my husband maybe we could contract something with heavy plastic that could be hung on it in winter and then Mark posted his. We are seriously considering an indoor set up but I'd rather they do what they do and not keep them up year round. Maybe on occasion run a heater in there to boost warmth?
 

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boxiemomma

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They love hiding under their shelf. Qnd the dried leaves have to be replaced but when we threw in the branches last spring they loved the cover of it :)

Each me has their own side as they don't really dig each other lol. We built this so we can get in as we're getting older to upkeep it. We would take the top structure with us for the move and build a new bottom. Each side is 4'x8'. They love to eat....lol 😆
 

boxiemomma

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Shells have been this way since we acquired them. We keep a very watchful eye, whe. They were younger if then flipped they couldn't right themselves, as they've gotten older they can now manage to. But at the same time if they ever did and could not get back that could be serious, especially if they were in the sun. Hence all the precautions to make the habitat safe and non-flippable for them
 

mark1

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I like Marks structure....and an excellent hypothesis on one of the chief limiting factors to the range of Box turtles. I would also suggest that none of us has ever seen a box turtle going below the frost line, here in MD it is roughly 30"!!

The idea of the structure is to extend livable climates, kind of what we do inside our own homes.....Mark has simply shown an expensive and easy to construct that same "climate extension" for his friends!! Very cool!


I do both both heat loads and numbers, for a living. The heat loading of the sun and lack of heat-shedding of Marks structure would support his claim of possibly 2 zones warmer It in fact, would result in rough numbers, a 40F delta on a 30F day, meaning properly sealed, the inside should approach 70F when it's freezing outside. That delta drops with the temp non-linearly. However, even in the dead-middle of an Ohio winter @ 5F, it's still well above freezing inside, as long as the sun is out......but remember that heat is stored as well and releases as it becomes cooler inside so the substrate will remain warmed for some period of time, depending on the make up and it sounds like Mark addressed that as well with his selection of ground make-up.

Now if I could only keep leaves out of my pond, w/o something that covers it up.... I'd be golden<LOL>!



jeff
your definitely correct with the 70 on a sunny 30 degree , and above freezing on a 5 degree day , actually from what i seen about right on ...... takes some venting to keep that from happening ...... thankfully over the winter months we seldom get sunny days , with the lake here we are pretty much gray from november to march , but it's even warmer than outside under the cover on overcast days ....i don't cover the pens until the really cold weather is here , i try to wait as long as possible , been a brutally cold job at times ...... .. i actually don't cover the box turtles , they are no problem here , they naturally occur here , i will throw a tarp over them jan. feb ..... ........ i started covering the ponds to keep them from freezing , it was taking a large amount of electricity to keep them from freezing too much ...i try to keep the water temp above 33 deg and below 50 deg in dec. , jan , feb , the other months i let it be whatever it is .......... with the cover electricity is almost not needed , just night time during long below freezing stretches ........ controlling the water temps in them does require some effort , alternating venting and heating .......... the reason i think it'd work for box turtles is the ground inside the covered pens very rarely is frozen solid , and then just the surface , there are plants in the covered pens that survive the winter staying green , which the ones outside the pen do die back in the winter ...... i have to think a hibernacula in one of them would be warmer and not too warm even here .... the ground is more stable temperature wise than the water ........ i've hibernated hatchling wood turtles in a home depot cement mixing tub , i think like 30 gallons of water in one of these pens for their first 3 yrs outside ...... definitely still a learning process , probably always will be ............
 

mark1

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This is our set up. Funny as I had just mentioned to my husband maybe we could contract something with heavy plastic that could be hung on it in winter and then Mark posted his. We are seriously considering an indoor set up but I'd rather they do what they do and not keep them up year round. Maybe on occasion run a heater in there to boost warmth?
i doubt heat would be necessary , you need to control the temps as best you can , temp probes in the leaf pile at ground level , air temp inside the pen .......... the ground is pretty stable under a large leaf/grass pile .......... a basking spot in the spring , a mercury vapor , infra red or che during the day would probably help them in the spring to get active a little earlier ....... i've used infra-red heat bulbs outside before and they will find and use them ..........it's not that exact of a science and really not very hard to hit decent parameters , imo ......
 

boxiemomma

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So is there anyone on this forum is SC or NC? My husband and I after alot of thought (and we go back and forth everyday, so this post could be premature but i have to start a rehoming search to have a Plan B) have really concluded that moving our EBT's to ME will not be best for them, and we unfortunately have to go to care for a sick family member. They are used to their life in the South and doing what they do, hibernation wise etc. If there is anyone out there in the area who is established and not going anywhere. They are very special to us so whoever they go to has to love the breed as we do. I'm sure that is everyone o. This forum lol.....

This is very very hard for us 😪😪 we love our guys, so no negative comments please. We are trying to do whats best for them. If we took them and they died or got sick we'd be devastated, they have had outstanding health the whole time we've had them, except when we "rescued" them, but we did all we could to give them a great life and they have that and we want it to continue. Taking them there woukd rob them if the Mar - Oct, Nov time they are up enjoying life before going down to hibernate.

If you think you'd be interested let me know.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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So is there anyone on this forum is SC or NC? My husband and I after alot of thought (and we go back and forth everyday, so this post could be premature but i have to start a rehoming search to have a Plan B) have really concluded that moving our EBT's to ME will not be best for them, and we unfortunately have to go to care for a sick family member. They are used to their life in the South and doing what they do, hibernation wise etc. If there is anyone out there in the area who is established and not going anywhere. They are very special to us so whoever they go to has to love the breed as we do. I'm sure that is everyone o. This forum lol.....

This is very very hard for us 😪😪 we love our guys, so no negative comments please. We are trying to do whats best for them. If we took them and they died or got sick we'd be devastated, they have had outstanding health the whole time we've had them, except when we "rescued" them, but we did all we could to give them a great life and they have that and we want it to continue. Taking them there woukd rob them if the Mar - Oct, Nov time they are up enjoying life before going down to hibernate.

If you think you'd be interested let me know.
On the contrary! You will not hear negative comments here because you chose to put your boys’ well-bring first. In fact, I commend you. It just shows how selfless you are. Good luck finding a next home for them!
 
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