1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

5 year old marginated tortoise help

Discussion in 'Marginated tortoises' started by kyle123, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    Hi I have a 5 year old marginated tortoise that lives by itself on a 1.3m by 0.6m tortoise table. He has lived indoors his whole life and he seems to be pretty bored. He only comes out of his hide away area when I give him food and he basks rarely or explores his enclosure. He doesnt seem to be ill so I was wondering if there was a way I could get him to move around a bit more and have more fun. I could buy him another tortoise to play with if that would help but I dont know.
    Any help would be appreciated thanks
  2. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    541
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    San Antonio, TX
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Don't get another tortoise, first off. That's completely inadvisable. Marginated boys are jerks, and another tortoise in that small space will suffer greatly. The other thing, 2x4 feet is way too small. 1.2 by 2.4 meters is an agreed upon minimum on this forum, despite the fact that I, personally, feel this is too small for a marginated tortoise. From the info you've provided, this is a big reason why he isn't active, because he has no space in which to be active. I generally keep my marginated males in 2.4 by 5.5 meter outdoor runs, which keep the animals from pacing the fences, seeking escape. This also depends upon the tortoise, though, and my biggest male, Big Gino, has the run of a 23 by 7 meter run, given that I've never been able to keep him from expressing his escapist instincts in a smaller enclosure. And he makes use of that space. Every morning and evening, he's running about the place. His legs are strong and powerful, he digests food like a mustang in it's prime, and he's never had a health issue in his life. All tortoises require space, but those in the genus Testudo generally require a disproportionate amount of it, in my experience. They seem to do best when given a large area over which to roam. Now, you don't necessarily have to do what I do. But your fella would do well if you doubled the space he currently occupies, at the very least.

    T.G.
    WithLisa likes this.
  3. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    I cannot increase the size of his enclosure as he is allready on the largest worktop in my house sadly. As you say the other option is to move him outdoors but beacuse of the english weather this isnt possible for about half of the year as it would be too cold for him so my only option is to have him inside in the winter on the table but place him outside in the summer. What kinda temperatures can I start putting him outside next year then?
    thanks
  4. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    541
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    San Antonio, TX
    In this case, I would recommend he spend as much time in a large outdoor enclosure as is possible. Whenever the weather is in excess of 12C and sunny, he can go out. If the day is cloudy, you can put him out if the weather is warmer than 18C. You can also boost temps artificially outdoors by setting up a greenhouse, which would be perfect in your area, given how dreary and rainy England can be. With a greenhouse setup, you can even set up lamps and heat panels within the greenhouse to further warm the environment. However you do this, more space is absolutely essential.

    T.G.
  5. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    Yeah I will do that for him next summer the greenhouse is a great idea thanks. One last question I have seen alot of diffrent recomendations on hibernation time I what would you recomend from your experience for him?
  6. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    541
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    San Antonio, TX
    Well, it isn't absolutely necessary to hibernate your tortoise, so let's get that out of the way first. However, there are any number of reasons you may want to do so. Many feel that it is more natural this way. I suppose there can be an argument for that. I've generally done it for two reasons, first of which is that it is a happy coincidence that most of my tortoises are on a very reduced maintenance schedule when I am busiest at work, so that's nice for them and for me. The brumation cycle also helps with breeding, and my tortoises produce babies every year, so I do enjoy that aspect of it. Whether or not you want to brumate your beast is up to you, but if you decide to go down that road, there are many things to consider.

    I've answered this question a number of times, so I'm copying and pasting a lot of this from other responses I've given regarding brumation. I've edited a lot of it to suit this particular topic, so let me know if you have any questions. I'm a big proponent of refrigerator brumation. This will involve getting a fridge. The best fridges are the medium sized drink fridges used by convenience stores, with the clear glass fronts. These aren't always readily available, however, so the secondary option would be to acquire a regular size home fridge. Don't get a minifridge. The reason you want the regular size home fridge is for the temperature stability such a large fridge can offer. In addition to the fridge, you will require a large rubbermaid tote into which you can drill six to ten quarter inch holes into the sides near the top. You can fill the bottom with any digable medium. I use peat moss that I've set out to be exposed to the rain and other elements to ensure that it is clear of any possible contaminants, but you could just as easily use top soil or topsoil with leaf litter compost. Any of these things should work. Anywho, all of this should be ready and in working order before you start your winter time countdown.

    I don't allow my margies to get too settled into the idea of winter's approach. What I mean by this is that any night that drops into the fifties, I bring them indoors, into an indoor enclosure. If we suffer an autumn rain where the temps drop into the wet sixties or lower, I bring them indoors, fire up the lights on a series of indoor enclosures, and keep them awake. Winters here in South Texas are short, often warm, and always unstable and entirely unpredictable. Eighties with twenty degree drop at night is not unusual, nor is eighties with a forty degree drop at night. As a result, I generally don't put them into brumation until late November/early December. As Tom mentioned, this may be different for you, given that we don't live in the same place. Regardless, once November has begun, I stop feeding my guys. They still go out on warm days, stay indoors on cooler days with a photoperiod to reflect the shortening day lengths, and I soak them at least once per day, twice on Saturdays and Sundays when I'm either off or closing my shop early. They usually have very little appetite at this point, though they may partake of late growth natural graze outdoors, but this isn't a common sight. Regardless, the constant soaking generally leaves them quite ready to empty themselves in preparation for the deep sleep.

    At the month's end, I pick a day that is dry and sunny during the day and cold and dry in the evening, usually in the forties is good. These days are common in late November/early December, so I just pick my day, let them bed down outdoors at night. Between midnight and two in the morning, I venture out, place my hiding tortoises into their fridge tubs, weigh each tub and record the date and weight for each animal, and then I move them into the fridge, stacking each crate into the fridge. I then take the tubs out to weigh them once per week, looking for significant weight loss. If an animal loses more than five percent of it's weight, I bring that animal back to operating temps. However, I've only had to do this once, and it was with a Russian that I brumated in a mini fridge. Don't be an idiot like I was and use a mini fridge. Most tortoises lose a surprisingly small amount of weight during this whole process. They're really evolved to deal with these conditions.

    As this will be your fella's first brumation, I wouldn't make it a long one. Four to six weeks for the first one should cover it, unless something goes wrong, in which case cut it short. Better safe than sorry. If things go well this first go around, push it to eight weeks next year, then twelve weeks the year after that. I always keep mine around twelve weeks. December, January, February. By February's end, the weather here in South Texas stops being so cool on/flame on, and the danger of sudden freezes is generally behind us. Don't get me wrong, we had a freeze in April back in 2014. I was furious. All the new growth on my mulberries died overnight, and a whole bunch of seedling chickory melted into the dirt. They came back three weeks later, but man, that was a drag. Anywho, off topic. When I pick the day for emergence, I choose a day that will be sunny but have a cool morning. I then take the tortoises outdoors before first light and place them in the opening of their sleeping quarters. All of my sleeping huts consist of night boxes with clear plastic flaps in the door way. I place them just behind the plastic flap. When the sun hits the entrance to that door way, the tortoise will slowly awaken. Most of them eventually walk out to greet the sun. I always like to put a glazed tortoise shell in Graecus' enclosure when he wakes up (long story, but my uncle brought back a glazed tortoise shell some street vendor was selling in Morocco, thinking I liked tortoises so, yeah). It's funny, given that Graecus is so pugnacious that he will attack that thing, thinking it's a tortoise. Even when he's weak from emergence from the hibernaculum, the fist thing that crosses his evil little mind is, "I've got to ram that tortoise that has invaded my territory." Sorry, off topic. Once their core temperature has stabilized by the day's end, I give them a long soak in luke warm water, refreshing the water continually over the course of an hour. Most of them are actually interested in eating by that point. I soak them every day for a half an hour for two weeks following emergence, and this generally ensures that they will enjoy themselves to the fullest extent in the coming spring.

    Sorry for the long post, but there's a lot to this, and I'm not sure if I've covered everything. If you have any questions, just let me know. Where I live, you can't brumate a tortoise any way other than this, in my opinion. I've met so many people who have tried other forms of brumation with Russians and some of my baby margies, and they're often visited by tragedy. I can't stress enough how critical fridge hibernation is toward minimizing the mortal risks of doing otherwise.

    T.G.
  7. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    That answered pretty much every single question i could ask. I think i will start hibernating him mid december and wake him up mid january. Thankyou very much for the help im alot more confident going into hibernation now.
  8. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    541
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    San Antonio, TX
    Glad I could be of assistance. Remember, the big thing for brumation is hydration. Make sure to soak him every day for three weeks to a month before putting him into the deep sleep. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    T.G.
  9. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    Will do thanks
  10. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2015
    Messages:
    967
    Likes Received:
    581
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    Austria
    If you don't have space for an adequate indoor enclosure (as do I) I would recommend to hibernate him for about 4 months and keep him outside the rest of the time.
    JoesMum likes this.
  11. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    What is the summer temperature like in Austria to be able to keep it outside the whole time?
  12. WithLisa

    WithLisa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2015
    Messages:
    967
    Likes Received:
    581
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    Austria
    The climate is more continental, so summers are a few degrees warmer but I guess spring and autumn are more or less the same as in England.
    Since the temperatures in Vienna are not quite mediterranean my tortoises do need a cold frame, but in my opinion that's much easier than keeping them indoors. They even hibernate in the cold frame. ;)
  13. kyle123

    kyle123 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location (City and/or State):
    England
    Yeah keeping them indoors all year round is awkward
Similar Threads: marginated tortoise
Forum Title Date
Marginated tortoises New to keeping marginated tortoises Jul 21, 2018
Marginated tortoises Advice for Marginated baby tortoise Jul 26, 2017
Marginated tortoises Questions about size and age in marginated tortoises Jun 30, 2017
Marginated tortoises I'm new please help ! Marginated Tortoise Jun 4, 2017
Marginated tortoises New to Marginated Tortoises - Similar to Leopards? Feb 28, 2017

Share This Page