Hibernating Russians in fridge 1st time

pgigac

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I haven't officially introduced myself yet...sorry...I'll getting that eventually. I have extensive experience with hibernating aquatic turtles of various species. I recently set up an outdoor enclosure for rescued Russians. I rescued 3 females (2 are 8+ scl and 1 is 6 inches) and one 5 inch male. The females section is 16x16 ft and the males section is 8x16 ft. The male was in bad shape but is improving and gaining weight beautifully every day. Due to the crazy winters we've been having I will not risk letting them hibernate outside.

I've searched and found some excellent info on this forum... But have a question or two.

Fridge set at 45f ... Each turtle in its own disinfected plastic storage bin.

What substrate do you use?
Do you cover them with substrate?
Is the substrate moist or dry?
Do you check on them or just leave them alone?
Do you worry about air circulation...refreshing?

What are general ambient temps when Russians start to think about hibernation? When do I bring them in to make sure their gutts empty properly?

I will be using the fridge for 3toed box turtles as well. They've hibernated outside for 3 yrars now but the fluctuating winter temps is just too all over place to allow them to hibernate outside anymore.
 

ascott

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Apple Valley, California
I haven't officially introduced myself yet...sorry...I'll getting that eventually. I have extensive experience with hibernating aquatic turtles of various species. I recently set up an outdoor enclosure for rescued Russians. I rescued 3 females (2 are 8+ scl and 1 is 6 inches) and one 5 inch male. The females section is 16x16 ft and the males section is 8x16 ft. The male was in bad shape but is improving and gaining weight beautifully every day. Due to the crazy winters we've been having I will not risk letting them hibernate outside.

I've searched and found some excellent info on this forum... But have a question or two.

Fridge set at 45f ... Each turtle in its own disinfected plastic storage bin.

What substrate do you use?
Do you cover them with substrate?
Is the substrate moist or dry?
Do you check on them or just leave them alone?
Do you worry about air circulation...refreshing?

What are general ambient temps when Russians start to think about hibernation? When do I bring them in to make sure their gutts empty properly?

I will be using the fridge for 3toed box turtles as well. They've hibernated outside for 3 yrars now but the fluctuating winter temps is just too all over place to allow them to hibernate outside anymore.

How long have they been in your care? What was their prior care during winter?
 

wellington

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Questions above asked, because it is not recommended to brumate the first year of a tortoise/turtle in your care. It's normally recommended to keep them up the first year, so you will have a year under your belt of caring for them, so you know how healthy and how well they have done for at least a year. If you have not had them for a year and specially the male,you said was in bad shape, it would be best to skip the brumating for this winter.
 

pgigac

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South Central Pennsylvania
I've had the 2 largest females and the male for 3ish months. The smaller female I've only had a short time. All have been vetted. The females were in excellent care before I got them, and excellent health, but were never brumated or hibernated. To be clear I am not brumating them. I find that more dangerous and risky than hibernation...which a natural activity for this species.

The male ... as I said... was not cared for well and if I include him in the hibernation plan it will only be for 3-4 weeks. I'm still not sure about him. He's gained a lot of weight and my vet and I will evaluate him closer to the time of deciding.

Some of you might know me from the Turtle Forum but many of you probably don't. My experience with turtles and hibernation is extensive. This is my first venture into tortoises. I'm well aware of the risks, concerns and logistics behind keeping turtles healthy and happy. My turtles are kept outside in massive enclosures, ponds and stock tanks. 90% of them are rescues from MATTS or other rehabbers due to neglect. They are given top quality care and allowed to finally be turtles with as much freedom as I can safely give them. The female Russians were acquired from MATTs as a result of changes in the owners lives...not due to neglect.

Ideally I'd like opinions, suggestions and answers to my questions, from keepers experienced with hibernating this species in a refrigerator, so can start planning.
 

ascott

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Apple Valley, California
I've had the 2 largest females and the male for 3ish months. The smaller female I've only had a short time. All have been vetted. The females were in excellent care before I got them, and excellent health, but were never brumated or hibernated. To be clear I am not brumating them. I find that more dangerous and risky than hibernation...which a natural activity for this species.

The male ... as I said... was not cared for well and if I include him in the hibernation plan it will only be for 3-4 weeks. I'm still not sure about him. He's gained a lot of weight and my vet and I will evaluate him closer to the time of deciding.

Some of you might know me from the Turtle Forum but many of you probably don't. My experience with turtles and hibernation is extensive. This is my first venture into tortoises. I'm well aware of the risks, concerns and logistics behind keeping turtles healthy and happy. My turtles are kept outside in massive enclosures, ponds and stock tanks. 90% of them are rescues from MATTS or other rehabbers due to neglect. They are given top quality care and allowed to finally be turtles with as much freedom as I can safely give them. The female Russians were acquired from MATTs as a result of changes in the owners lives...not due to neglect.

Ideally I'd like opinions, suggestions and answers to my questions, from keepers experienced with hibernating this species in a refrigerator, so can start planning.

Great..since your reply outlines your extensive knowledge and experience then there you go...have a great day.
 

ascott

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Hi @ascott. What's the difference between brumation and hibernation?

Hibernation in quick is generally referenced when speaking of mammals, it is a true continual sleep state..while brumation is used when referencing reptile, it is not a true sleep but more of a dormancy where the tortoise can and does rouse during the period of rest, lets say if it rains this is a time a tortoise will rouse and seek out water to consume..while a hibermating animal simply continues sleeping...the two are closely aligned but different..
 
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