Active before going into hibernation

Anthony Willett

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Hi,
I have a 7 year old tortoise that I’ve prepared for hibernation by starving her and bathing. I’ve put her in a non heated room at about 12 degrees C (for a couple days) where she doesn’t move much and just sleeps. But when I take her out and bathe her, she becomes quite active i.e walking around, and eyes wide open. Then when I put her back in the non heated room she’s still quite active and scratches around in the shoe box I’ve prepared for her. Can you hibernate a tortoise in this active state? Or is this quite dangerous. I feel like I’m forcing her to hibernate.
This is her first hibernation and was advised by multiple websites that she should hibernate for 3 weeks.

Thanks for reading.
 

zolasmum

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Hi,
I have a 7 year old tortoise that I’ve prepared for hibernation by starving her and bathing. I’ve put her in a non heated room at about 12 degrees C (for a couple days) where she doesn’t move much and just sleeps. But when I take her out and bathe her, she becomes quite active i.e walking around, and eyes wide open. Then when I put her back in the non heated room she’s still quite active and scratches around in the shoe box I’ve prepared for her. Can you hibernate a tortoise in this active state? Or is this quite dangerous. I feel like I’m forcing her to hibernate.
This is her first hibernation and was advised by multiple websites that she should hibernate for 3 weeks.

Thanks for reading.
What sort of tortoise is she ? Some tortoises should not hibernate at all - some can but it isn't essential for them to do so. After 7 years, she isn't really programmed to hibernate, and I would have thought it wouldn't really be necessary. I am not an expert, though, but only have the example of our 21 year old Hermanns to go by, and he has never hibernated, and is well and full of energy.
Angie
 

MichaelL

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12 degrees is a little too warm for brumation, and because of this the tortoise will move around more and burn energy.

Bathing usually causes activity since the tortoise warms up in the water so don't worry about her becoming active from bathing.

Around 4 degrees is the prime temperature for brumation and at that temperature there will be less activity and scratching. 3 weeks at 12 degrees, in my opinion, is not very dangerous since it is a relatively short period of time. If you were brumating her for let's say 8+ weeks at 12 degrees, that would be a major issue since she would burn through all her stored energy that she would need to survive.

Overall, I think you should try to find a cooler spot so she does not stay active and burn energy, but if you can't then it's not the end of the world since it is only three weeks at that warmer temperature.

Let's see what others say, though.
 

Anthony Willett

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What sort of tortoise is she ? Some tortoises should not hibernate at all - some can but it isn't essential for them to do so. After 7 years, she isn't really programmed to hibernate, and I would have thought it wouldn't really be necessary. I am not an expert, though, but only have the example of our 21 year old Hermanns to go by, and he has never hibernated, and is well and full of energy.
Angie
Hi
She is a Herman’s tortoise. Although I’ve never hibernated her she was sleepy late autumn but life got in the way and I had to delay my plans for her.
 

Anthony Willett

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12 degrees is a little too warm for brumation, and because of this the tortoise will move around more and burn energy.

Bathing usually causes activity since the tortoise warms up in the water so don't worry about her becoming active from bathing.

Around 4 degrees is the prime temperature for brumation and at that temperature there will be less activity and scratching. 3 weeks at 12 degrees, in my opinion, is not very dangerous since it is a relatively short period of time. If you were brumating her for let's say 8+ weeks at 12 degrees, that would be a major issue since she would burn through all her stored energy that she would need to survive.

Overall, I think you should try to find a cooler spot so she does not stay active and burn energy, but if you can't then it's not the end of the world since it is only three weeks at that warmer temperature.

Let's see what others say, though.
I should have probably explained it better. I put her in a 12 degree room to try and make her sleepy and reduce the risk of her getting a temperature shock when putting her in the fridge at 5 degrees. I bathed her before I was going to put her in the fridge but she just too active and I got nervous.
 

zolasmum

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Hi
She is a Herman’s tortoise. Although I’ve never hibernated her she was sleepy late autumn but life got in the way and I had to delay my plans for her.
Zola slows down a bit when it is cold and also doesn't eat as much, but he seems perfectly well, and he is such an important part of the family that I really couldn't risk anything going wrong while he is hibernating. What have you done previous years?
Angie
 

Anthony Willett

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Zola slows down a bit when it is cold and also doesn't eat as much, but he seems perfectly well, and he is such an important part of the family that I really couldn't risk anything going wrong while he is hibernating. What have you done previous years?
Angie
Previous years I have intended to hibernate her without a fridge in our attic but temperatures vary so much and it wasn’t appropriate. I’d finish the stage of winding her down properly but could never carry out the next task of putting her in a cold stable spot, I would then just overwinter her. But now that I’ve finally got my hands on a 66 litre fridge I feel I can do it better. I’d prefer to hibernate her in winter because her indoor enclosure isn’t as big as she wants it and she gets annoyed sometimes.
 

zolasmum

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Previous years I have intended to hibernate her without a fridge in our attic but temperatures vary so much and it wasn’t appropriate. I’d finish the stage of winding her down properly but could never carry out the next task of putting her in a cold stable spot, I would then just overwinter her. But now that I’ve finally got my hands on a 66 litre fridge I feel I can do it better. I’d prefer to hibernate her in winter because her indoor enclosure isn’t as big as she wants it and she gets annoyed sometimes.
That makes sense. I am sure people with more experience will be replying to you soon - I would think you need her to be pretty much asleep before you do anything. Have you weighed her since she stopped eating?
Best wishes from Angie.
 

Anthony Willett

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That makes sense. I am sure people with more experience will be replying to you soon - I would think you need her to be pretty much asleep before you do anything. Have you weighed her since she stopped eating?
Best wishes from Angie.
Hi,
She’s 798g (with empty bladder) and 851g (with full bladder). This got her a 0.18 (tortoise protection group) on the Jackson ratio which means she is a bit on the light side but still healthy. 0.19 was considered normal and 0.17 was light but healthy. Thanks,
Anthony.
 

Lyn W

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I think @Tom may be able to help you here.
I would be worried that if he is still active and not having food he is using his energy reserves needed for hibernation, but any food could rot in his gut and kill him if he has food now.
See what Tom advises.
 

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