Getting 35 Year old Adult Male DT - questions on options for Brumation

GreenKnight33

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Oct 14, 2021
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California
Saturday Oct 23rd, we'll be getting a 35 year old Male Desert Tortoise.
From reading the Forums, I’ve heard it could take several weeks for them to get used to their new surroundings, but by then we’re hitting November (45 at night, 85 in the day) in So Cal.
We will be getting him checked by the Vet the following Monday morning – btw – what do people recommend how best to bring your DT in when seeing the vet? Just a box or plastic tote?

Options

If Vet says he’s not healthy then, is prevailing Desert Tortoise wisdom to NOT brumate this year.
  • If so, then is best option let him stay outside during the day (with Cinderblock burrow and shade provided), and then if night get’s too cold, get it a shelter like a dog igloo…something with a door?
And then if she says he’s perfectly healthy, is the advice then, since I'm also in So Cal, to let him get used to his area for several weeks and then slowly work towards brumation (is there an ideal time to bring them to brumation?) Tom's helpful article mentions December and noticed listed his location as Socal.

A challenge is that my garage is insulated so it ranges from 50-70 when we get our SoCal 'winter'. That's outside of what I'm reading is brumation within the 45-55 range. With a double box setup, could I use freezer packs on the inner side of the box (so not touching the DT) to help cool the temperature in the box? And of course, two weeks of no food so there’s nothing in their system. Plus I’ll be giving him soaks every other day to make sure he’s hydrated.

Thank you in advance for all your advice!
 

RosemaryDW

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Welcome!

I think it would be helpful to share just where you are in SoCal. If I recall correctly Tom lives near(ish) the central valley. Somewhere hot anyway. Not at all like where I’m at, which is on the coast.

Actually I think it would be more helpful to know how he was being housed before you get/got him. You don’t want to jump into next steps without knowing that.

I take my tortoise to the vet in something leakproof. Because she invariably goes to the bathroom when stressed. And I tend to make it dark if I can; no need for her to feel any more exposed than she already is. Last time I just put a canvas bag over the box until we got there.
 

GreenKnight33

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Thank you Rosemary for your response. I'm over in the Hawaiin Gardens/Long Beach CA area, so further south. Temps outside during the cold season drop at the coldest to 35-40, but I'm obviously trying to get a consistent environment for the DT, whether we brumate or keep him up for the fall and winter.

I spoke with the foster person keeping the DT. Sounds like the DT is just outside (also in Long Beach area), and he has some Dogloo's and other 'lite weight' hides available for use. He mentioned giving it a soak the other day (not sure in warm or tepid water). Last time he saw it eat was three days ago. Not sure if any of this helps but that's the info I have to work with.

Thanks for the note on the carrier. I have a rubbermaid bin (not clear) that will do the trick then.
 

Rnasty

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Sep 5, 2021
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fresno
Tom lives in the Central Valley, we get colder winters than SoCal. While The Fresno area is not what you think of when you hear SoCal, it is technically considered such when you draw a line through the states center. Near Fresno we get this weird lead up to winter where it's 45-55 at night but like 70 during the day, sometimes close to 80. After that period temps generally stay in the 50's in a garage from my experience. During the coldest part of the winter it gets into the 30's, occasionally even the 20's - much too cold.

Really the best option IMO would be to get a fridge like Tom says in his brumation post, because in SoCal your temps may be too mild for the tortoise to properly brumate. I know people who let their tortoises start brumation on their own in their insulated burrows during the weird early fall period, then when the temps really drop they put them in the garage where the temp stay between 50-60 throughout the day. I'm not saying this is the best method or the best temps, but that's what I've seen work personally. Mine will go in a garage this winter, but I plan to also get a fridge for my DT's in the future to give them optimal conditions. (I'm also in grad school and have approximately $0 to spend on a fridge.)

With a fridge you can totally control the temps. After the DT becomes sluggish start clearing his guts with soaks. After that, put them in their boxes in the fridge and slowly cool them down a bit each day until they're down to 45-50 degrees. Leave them there and reverse the process in spring - slowly warm them up and bring them out at the appropriate time.

For the soaks, are you planning on doing it every day while the DT is in brumation? That's too often in my opinion, I don't think it would be good to disturb them so frequently.

All of my info I've learned on here, someone can correct me if I'm wrong. I'm by no means and expert.
 
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