Advice please (hibernation)

DixieParadise

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I live in central Texas and I had my EBTs all set into hibernate for the winter. Last week I thought everything was fine all had picked a spot and dug in when we got an unexpected high amount of cold rain that left 2 inches if standing water in their area and uncovered all of them. I have made some changes to the enclosure area and put in new dry leaves and substrate to help them out, but I am wondering would pacing. Would it be ok to put a tarp over their enclosure area? Just some thoughts and ideas please
 

mtdavis254817

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Re: Advice please

I put one over mine when we have a freeze


I also use a lot of bagged leaves I find on curbs
 

Yvonne G

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RE: Advice please

First of all, you should pick the high spot in the pen for them to hibernate. This way the water drains away from where they are dug in.

After my box turtles bury themselves, I mound leaves and garden trash over the area where they are. I have covered the trash mound with a tarp in the past, but it really isn't necessary. I don't do that anymore. I think that if the area gets too much sun, the tarp might act as a little greenhouse, causing the garden trash underneath to heat up. It's quite ok for box turtles to get wet during hibernation, just not standing water. You just want to be sure they are down deep enough, below the frost line. That's why I pile up leaves and garden trash over their hibernating spot.
 

terryo

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Mine are in the back of the garden on higher ground, and I have it covered with a piece of ply wood with pond liner stapled on it. It's like a big cave going back about three feet, filled with dried leaves and covered with pine hay. You don't want to put anything green in there as it will generate heat. We have very severe Winters here so mine are covered.

m7urzm.jpg
 

edwardbo

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Terry! Hello,you were my inspiration to become involved with turtles. You don't know how many times I've tried to envision a cross section of your cave. I also live on the east coast and it is so cold didn't think that the majority of forum members really understood how cold .( you can drive your cars on the ponds and lakes) now my question ; are your boxes really buried 3 feet down ? That is what the zone we are in indicates . Spoken and read (almost every post on here ) some experts say they just go under a couple inches ,sleep in frozen puddles .other accounts of boxies wintering under water ...... Diamondbp has told me he has seen native boxes walking around on frosted ground . I'm kind of a wreck over the whole thing. I just have to think about the millions of years that they have been doing it that my loved torts are going to be ok .thank you .
 

terryo

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Thank you! When I get the cave ready for the winter, I dig down and loosen the soil and mix it with some peat moss and the old leaves from last year. Then I top it off with almost two feet of leaves, and then a layer of pine hay. I really don't know how deep they dig, but they can go down three feet if they want to as the soil is loose enough. Some years ago one of the box turtles didn't go into the cave for some reason and I didn't see him under a shrub. The weather turned cold really fast, and I found him frozen under the shrub. So I can't imagine how any could survive not dug under. I'm very careful now, checking everywhere to make sure none are out. I really haven't had any casualties so far with hibernating.
You can't even see the cave or the garden in this picture, but they are under there.
iepkd1.jpg
 

DixieParadise

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That was my concern when the rain came. I was able to find 3 of them bit the one female who was buried I didn't find until morning in frigid water. I soaked her don't know if that was a good thing or not but I was worried that she would be frozen in the water. I was thinking the tarp over their 24 inch tall fortress would eliminate the water. After reading your reply Terry I remember this from an email from you.
 

terryo

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Pick the highest part of your enclosure to let them hibernate, even if you have to add soil to make it higher. My whole garden is like a planter made of stone, with plenty of weep holes in case of severe rain or flooding. The cave is all the way on one side and a little higher. I'm always afraid of flooding, so I cover the whole cave. It goes back about three feet. With all that snow melting as the weather gets warmer I really have to worry. By the end of the Winter I'm a wreck worrying about them, but they always seem to make it. You don't know how happy I am to see their little faces coming up for Easter.
 

diamondbp

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The key is drainage, relatively dry substrate, coverage of some sort, and the substrate must be loose enough for a super cold sluggish turtle to dig further into if necessary.

I can only speak for Louisiana winters which are WAYYY different from up north. We have vert "up and down" winters as far as temperatures, so it can be very confusing to the box turtles.

What I do every year is have separate areas of leaf litter and others of hay. It seems some of my box turtles prefer one over the other so I provide both. I usually lay a piece of wood over these areas on top of one brick (to prevent compaction) to prevent the rain from saturating the substrate.

With all that being said, I still find rebels that choose to hibernate elsewhere and they all end up doing just fine. We are just worry bugs lol. But I'm sure those northern winters are just brutal and cause for concern. But those wild boxies always find a way to make it through.

Good luck
 

TigsMom

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Hello from Arizona. Yes, tarps help alot. We just had 3 days of light rain that saturated the ground, the soil drains well in the enclosures (and I check on them often during rains) I'm not too worried about them now the ground should be dry in just another day or so, but I do check on them twice each day. When we get heavy rains, I cover the enclosures with tarps. There is a high wall on one side and a low wall on the opposite side, so the tarp is at an angle that runs the water off and away from the enclosures. Works really well for us. When we get freeze warnings, I cover the enclosure with an old bed spread and the tarp above. I don't leave the tarps over the enclosures unless they are needed, as I don't want them to get too warm on the many sunny warm days we have here (even in winter).
 

DixieParadise

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That answered my other question about making it too warm. You guys have helped much. I am going to work on some of what all have suggested. Thanks
 
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