Brumation Tip Outdoors

Eric Phillips

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2014
Messages
1,092
Location (City and/or State)
Ohio
Reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals. That is, they rely on external energy sources to control body temperature and cannot elevate their temperatures independently of environmental conditions. As a result, reptilian dormancy, or brumation, is different from mammalian hibernation because the metabolic processes are different. Not unlike mammals, reptiles may begin their dormancy stage in the fall. However, they do not enter a state of “sleep” as the mammals do. They go into a state of suspended animation. That is, their metabolism slows down dramatically, and still, they do not go in to a “kind of sleep” that mammals experience during hibernation.


I’ve found over the years that preparation is the key to successfully brumating Box Turtles outdoors. The more I’m prepared the easier the transition is for for my Box Turtles. In my region, I know by October my guys are slowing down, so at the end of September I am already taking a day to remove them from the enclosure, weighing and logging, and preparing the soil in multiple preselected sites in the enclosures. Loosening the soil with a shovel in a 3-4ft area down a 12-18 inches is ideal. The area where I live is all clay so I removed 50-75% of the clay and mixed in a part top soil, sand, peat moss, organic matter(leaves, grass clipping, etc) mixture to creat a more loose loaming soil.

In August and September, I also start bagging my grass clippings from mowing and start piling the clippings on the sites. Any leftover clippings are then placed at a designated stock pile for future need. I do this through October. I use the same method once the silver maple and oak leaves begin to fall from the trees. Below is a stock pile I have access to throughout the winter to add more leaf litter and grass clippings if need be.

IMG_1603.jpg IMG_1606.jpg

I’ve really found the leaf and grass clipping stock pile method useful come Jan/Feb. It’s like repairing a hole in blanket.

I stop feeding my guys 1st of October however I increase the soaks to a couple times a week throughout Oct. Come Nov. they are all pretty much down. This will be the last time I see them until middle to end of April.

In closing, if you have an area that you can stock pile some useful organic matter to continue to blanket your brumation sites, I would recommend it.

Good luck to those brumating their friends outdoors!
 

shari_antonucci

New Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Tomball Texas
Thank you I found this very helpful. Being a new Box Turtle owner I have search the web for everything under the sun and there is so many mixed views on what to do I have to say I'm a little confused.
 
Joined
Dec 4, 2018
Messages
35
Location (City and/or State)
Birmingham, alabama
[QUOTE="Eric Phillips, post: 1545905,

Thank you. We did something similar - and the box chose an acrylic enclosure with substrate, then we covered him with pine needles and leaves.

I am concerned, though - it is not a "natural" way to hibernate.
There is a fairly large pen, the acrylic tank on its side (to ease entry) is sitting at the end of it.
The box (adult male) stopped eating in October and chose to go inside the enclosure and sleep there.

I am a little uneasy and want to unhibernate him and put him inside for the winter...
 

norma.b

New Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
St Lucia ESTUARY KZN South Africa
I am also new to brumating a tortoise. I have a wild raised hingeback which I think is a female adult that walked into my garden. It was near the end of Summer so thought to keep her till spring then take her into a nearby game reserve. I am in Northern South Africa. I found her in my garage under a folded tent about two weeks ago after not seeing her come for any food for about a month. Soaked her and brought her indoors and have kept her in a large cardboard box she only ate some cucumber, small piece of tomato and some lettuce. I think she had a drink while soaking and she passed a firm stool plus urates. Then she decided to go back to sleep for 2 weeks now. I put a heater in her room every day for about 3 hours, late afternoon and put a UV lamp on above the open box for about 4 hours in the mornings. Should I soak her again and wake her up. The strata is pet (hamster)wood shavings or must I let her just sleep. I do leave water and some food in her box every night in case she wants some in the early morning but she is not waking.
 

DoubleD1996!

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2021
Messages
289
Location (City and/or State)
Memphis
Reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals. That is, they rely on external energy sources to control body temperature and cannot elevate their temperatures independently of environmental conditions. As a result, reptilian dormancy, or brumation, is different from mammalian hibernation because the metabolic processes are different. Not unlike mammals, reptiles may begin their dormancy stage in the fall. However, they do not enter a state of “sleep” as the mammals do. They go into a state of suspended animation. That is, their metabolism slows down dramatically, and still, they do not go in to a “kind of sleep” that mammals experience during hibernation.


I’ve found over the years that preparation is the key to successfully brumating Box Turtles outdoors. The more I’m prepared the easier the transition is for for my Box Turtles. In my region, I know by October my guys are slowing down, so at the end of September I am already taking a day to remove them from the enclosure, weighing and logging, and preparing the soil in multiple preselected sites in the enclosures. Loosening the soil with a shovel in a 3-4ft area down a 12-18 inches is ideal. The area where I live is all clay so I removed 50-75% of the clay and mixed in a part top soil, sand, peat moss, organic matter(leaves, grass clipping, etc) mixture to creat a more loose loaming soil.

In August and September, I also start bagging my grass clippings from mowing and start piling the clippings on the sites. Any leftover clippings are then placed at a designated stock pile for future need. I do this through October. I use the same method once the silver maple and oak leaves begin to fall from the trees. Below is a stock pile I have access to throughout the winter to add more leaf litter and grass clippings if need be.

View attachment 223129 View attachment 223130

I’ve really found the leaf and grass clipping stock pile method useful come Jan/Feb. It’s like repairing a hole in blanket.

I stop feeding my guys 1st of October however I increase the soaks to a couple times a week throughout Oct. Come Nov. they are all pretty much down. This will be the last time I see them until middle to end of April.

In closing, if you have an area that you can stock pile some useful organic matter to continue to blanket your brumation sites, I would recommend it.

Good luck to those brumating their friends outdoors!
This is dope. I do something similar. I use cypress mulch and pile it around the tree in their enclosure. Then I fill the entire enclosure to the brim with fallen leaves. I usually stop food in late November early October as well. Another thing I do is use kiddie pools. I cut a hole/doorway, fll it with mulch underneath(and a brick if need be to prevent sagging)and the box turtles usually go inside. I then take a board with a brick to keep them inside, even though they don't get up until the end of march. And lastly I just cover everything in leaves. As soon as it warms up the turtles get a drink and the males start chasing the females.
 

TurtzInMyYard

Active Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2021
Messages
85
Location (City and/or State)
AL
I'm just learning about box turtles. I retired 5 years ago and I see box turtles in my yard pretty frequently. Last spring I came across 3 of the tiniest turtz I've ever seen. They were all 3 within 2-3 feet of each other. I suspect they hatched inside the nearest flower bed as I had seen a turtle frequently go in and come out. They were EXTREMELY cute.

As spring fell into summer, I began to wonder; am I seeing the same turtle over and over again, or, are they different turtles? This spring I began marking each turtle that visited. The count at this point in time is 9 different turtles.

T-Rex was a late comer to the group. Every time a turtle emerges, of course I have to run out and check to see 'who' it is. About two weeks ago, I was sitting on my back porch and realize there were two turtz about 15 feet away, near the Hostas, in which they love to hide. I could see my mark on one of them, it was "Drop" and I just assumed the other turt was a resident as well.

Suddenly I realized there was some commotion going on. Initially, I thought the scuffle might be of a territorial nature as I have no idea how to sex them. As I watched them, it dawned on me, "Hey, that's an unmarked unit out there". He was mounting Drop. They stayed hooked up for over two hours! I could not believe it. Well, that turt looks so much like a T-Rex, he now wears a T on the back of his shell. For a turt who didn't show up until late summer, he sure visits alot now. I saw him try to mate with Stripe, so now I now she is a female.

I would have thought mating season was over by now. He was a bit late to the party, I guess. I am seeing them less and less. I was just thinking, I bet they are getting ready to hibernate, which I now know is the wrong term.

I feed them everyday they show up. They love watermelon, apples and cantaloupes. I have something to look forward to next spring ---to see who shows up, who doesn't and who is new.

Thanks for the info on bromation. I'd love to know where my turtz hole up for winter.

Oh, and by the way, do turtz travel underground in tunnels? There are tunnels in certain areas around the house. I thought maybe it was a mole or something, but my friend insists, the turtz are to blame. Thoughts?

Thanks ~~
 

DoubleD1996!

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2021
Messages
289
Location (City and/or State)
Memphis
I'm just learning about box turtles. I retired 5 years ago and I see box turtles in my yard pretty frequently. Last spring I came across 3 of the tiniest turtz I've ever seen. They were all 3 within 2-3 feet of each other. I suspect they hatched inside the nearest flower bed as I had seen a turtle frequently go in and come out. They were EXTREMELY cute.

As spring fell into summer, I began to wonder; am I seeing the same turtle over and over again, or, are they different turtles? This spring I began marking each turtle that visited. The count at this point in time is 9 different turtles.

T-Rex was a late comer to the group. Every time a turtle emerges, of course I have to run out and check to see 'who' it is. About two weeks ago, I was sitting on my back porch and realize there were two turtz about 15 feet away, near the Hostas, in which they love to hide. I could see my mark on one of them, it was "Drop" and I just assumed the other turt was a resident as well.

Suddenly I realized there was some commotion going on. Initially, I thought the scuffle might be of a territorial nature as I have no idea how to sex them. As I watched them, it dawned on me, "Hey, that's an unmarked unit out there". He was mounting Drop. They stayed hooked up for over two hours! I could not believe it. Well, that turt looks so much like a T-Rex, he now wears a T on the back of his shell. For a turt who didn't show up until late summer, he sure visits alot now. I saw him try to mate with Stripe, so now I now she is a female.

I would have thought mating season was over by now. He was a bit late to the party, I guess. I am seeing them less and less. I was just thinking, I bet they are getting ready to hibernate, which I now know is the wrong term.

I feed them everyday they show up. They love watermelon, apples and cantaloupes. I have something to look forward to next spring ---to see who shows up, who doesn't and who is new.

Thanks for the info on bromation. I'd love to know where my turtz hole up for winter.

Oh, and by the way, do turtz travel underground in tunnels? There are tunnels in certain areas around the house. I thought maybe it was a mole or something, but my friend insists, the turtz are to blame. Thoughts?

Thanks ~~
Box turtles don't really dig tunnels. They're more like cavities or crevices against some sort of structure such as the base of the tree. I know a lot of people who respond to this will discourage you from marking them, but people do this for field research all the time to collect data. Instead of drawing like large letters, I recommend doing something subtle like color coded dots on one of the rear scoots and keep a booklet for ID. You don't want someone stumbling across them, thinking they are captive pets and taking them in and trying to find the owner, which goes down another rabbit hole. And some may discourage you from feeding, which you shouldn't do much, but then again they won't become souly dependent on you as a source of food because they will forage. They usually will brumate under logs or the base of the tree. Any place they can dig below the frost line.As regards to mating, most turtles and tortoise are solitary creatures, not all believe it or not. There for they don't come across each other often other doing the breeding season. Due to the fact they see your home as a potential place to get a free meal when things are scarce, it becomes a common place to congregate. When they encounter each other, they may take the opportunity to mate. The female may hold her eggs until next spring, and lay a few more clutches, or she may lay and the babies will overwinter in the nest until spring. Hope this helps. I'm no pro, these are just things I've observed over the years. Also, here's a pic of the captive babies I hatched...for no reason at all other than it being cute🤣
 

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DoubleD1996!

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2021
Messages
289
Location (City and/or State)
Memphis
Box turtles don't really dig tunnels. They're more like cavities or crevices against some sort of structure such as the base of the tree. I know a lot of people who respond to this will discourage you from marking them, but people do this for field research all the time to collect data. Instead of drawing like large letters, I recommend doing something subtle like color coded dots on one of the rear scoots and keep a booklet for ID. You don't want someone stumbling across them, thinking they are captive pets and taking them in and trying to find the owner, which goes down another rabbit hole. And some may discourage you from feeding, which you shouldn't do much, but then again they won't become souly dependent on you as a source of food because they will forage. They usually will brumate under logs or the base of the tree. Any place they can dig below the frost line.As regards to mating, most turtles and tortoise are solitary creatures, not all believe it or not. There for they don't come across each other often other doing the breeding season. Due to the fact they see your home as a potential place to get a free meal when things are scarce, it becomes a common place to congregate. When they encounter each other, they may take the opportunity to mate. The female may hold her eggs until next spring, and lay a few more clutches, or she may lay and the babies will overwinter in the nest until spring. Hope this helps. I'm no pro, these are just things I've observed over the years. Also, here's a pic of the captive babies I hatched...for no reason at all other than it being cute🤣
Actually, instead of marking, just take pictures to ID.
 

TurtzInMyYard

Active Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2021
Messages
85
Location (City and/or State)
AL
Actually, instead of marking, just take pictures to ID.
Thanks for the great information. Indeed I have read or seen videos that discourage 'marking' the turtles. Initially, I painted a pink dot on the one I call, Drip. She's the first turtle I saw after I decided to mark them. I put it where on the rear of her shell. Well, her pink dot became a 'drip', thus, her name. The next turtle, I marked with a pink dot also-- at the front of her shell and she is named Drop. Another wears a pink dot right on top. Her name is Spot. There is another wearing a narrow pink stripe on her dorsal line. Her name is Stripe. I am not terribly creative when it comes to names until I get to know them better. I have been photographing them to study, as I feel pretty certain after brumation, most, if not all of the pink marks will have been worn away by the time spring comes back around.

So, there is method to my madness and there won't be a need to remark next spring. I do have one with an amputated right front foot. I do not know the sex. T-Rex chased it off. I wondered if maybe it was a male that lost its foot during a battle with another male? It's all so very interesting to me.

Those who tend to discourage such things as marking, often are the same ones who ask for data on back yard turtles. Well, I don't have fancy marking techniques, so pink paint will have to do. As to the feeding, here's my take on that. I have observed and interacted with them enough to realize, they are smart little critters. They know what to eat, and when to eat. I have been 'late' getting to the coliseum to offer an apple wedge before and when I'm late, they have already been eating little snails and worms. I know how late I am according to how much apple they eat. If they eat it all right away, then I know I'm not too awfully late. If they eat only part or half, then I know they have already eaten their fill. I do not worry in any way about what I feed them. When Drip has a craving for apples, she will make an obvious appearance. If I see Drop and offer her one and she just leaves...I also know she has had her fill. It's just things I have learned about my herd. What DO you call a group of turtles? I just say herd because my grandmother used to tell my grandfather, "Well, now you're getting along about as fast as a herd of turtles.

I'm sure I'm a bit naive and uninformed about much, but, I have been observing the wildlife in this forum and it is a CERTAINTY that what I get wrong...will be pointed out, and not in elegant fashion.

I find that amusing as well. I believe you have offered me information in a much different and far more effective manner than I have seen some of the 'experts' be able to achieve. Kudos to you...and thanks so much.
 

DoubleD1996!

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2021
Messages
289
Location (City and/or State)
Memphis
Thanks for the great information. Indeed I have read or seen videos that discourage 'marking' the turtles. Initially, I painted a pink dot on the one I call, Drip. She's the first turtle I saw after I decided to mark them. I put it where on the rear of her shell. Well, her pink dot became a 'drip', thus, her name. The next turtle, I marked with a pink dot also-- at the front of her shell and she is named Drop. Another wears a pink dot right on top. Her name is Spot. There is another wearing a narrow pink stripe on her dorsal line. Her name is Stripe. I am not terribly creative when it comes to names until I get to know them better. I have been photographing them to study, as I feel pretty certain after brumation, most, if not all of the pink marks will have been worn away by the time spring comes back around.

So, there is method to my madness and there won't be a need to remark next spring. I do have one with an amputated right front foot. I do not know the sex. T-Rex chased it off. I wondered if maybe it was a male that lost its foot during a battle with another male? It's all so very interesting to me.

Those who tend to discourage such things as marking, often are the same ones who ask for data on back yard turtles. Well, I don't have fancy marking techniques, so pink paint will have to do. As to the feeding, here's my take on that. I have observed and interacted with them enough to realize, they are smart little critters. They know what to eat, and when to eat. I have been 'late' getting to the coliseum to offer an apple wedge before and when I'm late, they have already been eating little snails and worms. I know how late I am according to how much apple they eat. If they eat it all right away, then I know I'm not too awfully late. If they eat only part or half, then I know they have already eaten their fill. I do not worry in any way about what I feed them. When Drip has a craving for apples, she will make an obvious appearance. If I see Drop and offer her one and she just leaves...I also know she has had her fill. It's just things I have learned about my herd. What DO you call a group of turtles? I just say herd because my grandmother used to tell my grandfather, "Well, now you're getting along about as fast as a herd of turtles.

I'm sure I'm a bit naive and uninformed about much, but, I have been observing the wildlife in this forum and it is a CERTAINTY that what I get wrong...will be pointed out, and not in elegant fashion.

I find that amusing as well. I believe you have offered me information in a much different and far more effective manner than I have seen some of the 'experts' be able to achieve. Kudos to you...and thanks so much.
No problem, but I'd say keeping pictures is the best I'd. You can hang them on your wall as well. I know some people can come off a bit harsh on the forum, because they're so excited to share the knowledge they have, but it can be a turn off and often scares people away the way the info is delivered.
 
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