Using a fridge for Hibernation

FomTarro

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Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
16
Location (City and/or State)
Maynard, MA
Hello!

I have a (4-6?) year old Russian tortoise who we are finally looking to hibernate this winter, after having had her for about a year and a half. We don't really know how old she is, but she's not a baby and she's still growing.

Following some recommendations we've found here, we purchased a minifridge for the sole purpose of tort chilling. That said, I have some questions about the specifics of this approach.

1) What is the ideal humidity for the inside of a fridge at hibernation temperatures?
2) Do I need to cut air-holes in the rubber seal of the door, or is the act of opening the door to weigh her daily sufficient for oxygen resupplying?

That said, if anyone has any additional advice about using a fridge for hibernation that they think is unintuitive and useful, I'm all ears.

Thank you.
 

Freddy90

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Apr 30, 2020
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Location (City and/or State)
Austria
Hello!

I have a (4-6?) year old Russian tortoise who we are finally looking to hibernate this winter, after having had her for about a year and a half. We don't really know how old she is, but she's not a baby and she's still growing.

Following some recommendations we've found here, we purchased a minifridge for the sole purpose of tort chilling. That said, I have some questions about the specifics of this approach.

1) What is the ideal humidity for the inside of a fridge at hibernation temperatures?
2) Do I need to cut air-holes in the rubber seal of the door, or is the act of opening the door to weigh her daily sufficient for oxygen resupplying?

That said, if anyone has any additional advice about using a fridge for hibernation that they think is unintuitive and useful, I'm all ears.

Thank you.



Not an expert on this topic but I'm currently hibernating my turtle in the fridge.

Dont cut holes. Opening the fridge exchanges enough oxygen normally. How big is ur fridge?
I open my fridge like every 4 days and weight my turtle every two weeks.
Personally I wouldn't weight him every day after all he should rest. Constantly touching him is probably annoying if he wants to hibernate.
Cant help u with humidity since my turtle is in water and it's always decently humid in my fridge due to evaporation.

Sorry for only this little help but I'm sure more experienced members will see this post and help u out more :)
 

Happytort27

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Apr 10, 2020
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CA
The only humidity will be whatever their breath provides. You do not need to cut any holes. They will get enough oxygen by you opening and closing the door. I think the fridge method is the best way of hibernating your tortoise. Do NOT let your tortoise hibernate in a self-dug burrow outside. It’s not safe, in my opinion.

I got all of my information from Tom in this thread. Scroll down to post #19 for a more in depth process of hibernating written by Tom:

 

FomTarro

New Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
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16
Location (City and/or State)
Maynard, MA
Thank you both. I would never even consider letting her burrow outside for the winter. She's so small that any animal could easily eat her, plus I live in MA which is (supposed to be) quite cold.

Good to know about the air exchange. Refrigerators aren't exactly designed for their contents to be actively consuming oxygen so I was thinking modifications might be needed.

Also good to hear a differing perspective on how often to weigh her. We read that she shouldn't lose more than 1% of her weight per week, so we wanted to be extra vigilant on that front. Plus, having never hibernated an animal before, we wanted frequent confirmation that she is indeed still alive 😅
 

gurgleblaster

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May 19, 2020
Messages
66
Location (City and/or State)
Charlotte
I have my tort in a self dug burrow on a raised tort table in a screened in porch with thermostats to control the heaters. She seems to do just fine there. As I spend most of my day working on the porch I can keep an eye on her as well. Fridge is good but torts do carry bacteria and for those who are immune suppressed I would not recommend fridge.

Edit: my porch is also on the second story predation is not an issue there.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Hello!

I have a (4-6?) year old Russian tortoise who we are finally looking to hibernate this winter, after having had her for about a year and a half. We don't really know how old she is, but she's not a baby and she's still growing.

Following some recommendations we've found here, we purchased a minifridge for the sole purpose of tort chilling. That said, I have some questions about the specifics of this approach.

1) What is the ideal humidity for the inside of a fridge at hibernation temperatures?
2) Do I need to cut air-holes in the rubber seal of the door, or is the act of opening the door to weigh her daily sufficient for oxygen resupplying?

That said, if anyone has any additional advice about using a fridge for hibernation that they think is unintuitive and useful, I'm all ears.

Thank you.
I never weigh mine during hibernation. Follow post number 19 in the link from Happytort for all the details.

Some mini fridges don't hold a consistent temp. While your tortoise is emptying its gut and getting hydrated with soaks, pack the fridge full of stuff like water bottles. This will help it hold a more consistent temp and operate more efficiently due to heat inertia. Put two or three different digital thermometers that record the high and low daily. Monitor these and make sure they are staying consistent and not fluctuating too much. For a Russian, I find 39F to be the ideal hibernation temp. This is colder than some other species, but they come from a very harsh climate, and they remain too fidgety when temps are allowed to climb higher. Adjust the control on your fridge to get this temperature and watch it for at least a week before putting the tortoise in.
 
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