How big a space indoors is needed when torotiose is hibernation

mylittlecholla

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This question will show my ignorance big time, but here goes.

If my 5 inch long Cal. Desert tortoise is going to be hibernating, does she need an enclosure bigger than 50L 24W and 12H?

I'd rather hibernate her in a heated tortoise house in a large enclosure outside, as the experts on this forum have suggested. We have plans to build just such a habitat for Cholla.

However it's may be a month to six weeks time to purchase and assemble the materials and then to get the butts of my husband and son-in-law moving on this project :rolleyes:. Don't get me wrong they're both wonderful men. But neither is at my beck and call.?

So . . . in the meantime, will it harm Cholla to stay in the 50L 24W indoor enclosure if all she is doing in cold weather is sleeping?
On warm, dry days, she'll still have the smallish outdoor enclosure my husband previously built for her.

Will very much appreciate y'all's advice.
 

Yvonne G

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For a tortoise that size I use a box like what reams of paper come in - a cardboard box slightly bigger than the tortoise.

I put a whole Sunday newspaper, folded in half, in the bottom of the box, then some shredded paper, then the tortoise. I fill up the rest of the box with shredded paper and close the lid. The box is then placed in a dark, quiet place where the temperature won't fall below 40°F or get above 45°F.

The whole idea of hibernation (actually called brumation) for tortoises is because it's too cold for them to be active. So you don't want him in his heated enclosure.
 

mylittlecholla

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Thank you. Helpul as always.

If she's going to be brumating in the box as you suggest, that will give us time to build her big outdoor enclosure and tortoise house.

My next question is this: Should she be brumating for the next 6 weeks or so?

As of yesterday, outdoor temperatures dropped and we actually got some rain. However, given the recent weather patterns in So Cal, we might see temps go up into the 80's again. Should it get warm again, do I need to get her up, let her eat, exercise, etc..


Currently the outdoor temp is about 64 degrees, and 70 inside our house. Yet Cholla seems to want to sleep. She does wake up and get active when I take her out, but if left in her indoor enclosure she just stays in her little cave and sleeps.

I'm wondering if that could be due to the excessively small size of the indoor enclosure--i.e., that she feels too cramped and bored to do anything but sleep.

Always grateful for your input.
 

Yvonne G

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No. Once you put her in her box you don't get her up until spring.
 

mylittlecholla

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Got it. Thank you.

But should she begin brumating now, given that night temperatures are in the 50's or 60's, and daytime temps are in the 70's-80's?
 

Tom

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Got it. Thank you.

But should she begin brumating now, given that night temperatures are in the 50's or 60's, and daytime temps are in the 70's-80's?
You need to read post number 19 in this thread:

There is a lot more to it than putting them is a box at a certain time of year. And once the tortoise is in the box, the temperature needs to stay cold and consistent.

If you aren't 100% sure of when, where and how to do it, then don't do it until you are sure. You can make a large warm indoor enclosure with the right lights and heat and keep the tortoise up all winter.
 

mylittlecholla

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Thanks. My husband and I were racking our brains to figure out how to find a place that would consistently remain between 40 and 45 degrees F. as per Yvonne's info. We'll keep her up then indoors until we have been thoroughly schooled in how brumate/hibernate her safely.

However, the dimensions of her enclosure will be significantly smaller than they should be per your earlier advice, simply due to the small rooms in our small house.

5' by 4' is the absolute biggest we can go.

In the meantime I'll step up the requests to my son in law to get the outdoor enclosure and tortoise house built.
 

Tom

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Thanks. My husband and I were racking our brains to figure out how to find a place that would consistently remain between 40 and 45 degrees F. as per Yvonne's info. We'll keep her up then indoors until we have been thoroughly schooled in how brumate/hibernate her safely.

However, the dimensions of her enclosure will be significantly smaller than they should be per your earlier advice, simply due to the small rooms in our small house.

5' by 4' is the absolute biggest we can go.

In the meantime I'll step up the requests to my son in law to get the outdoor enclosure and tortoise house built.
5x4' is a little more cramped than I would like for a 5" tortoise, but that is really not too bad for one more winter. She should be fine in that until spring, and you can also use the outdoor enclosure during our warm sunny winter spells too. We always get some 80 degree days in January.
 

mylittlecholla

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Thanks, that's reassuring.

Re: the outdoor enclosure soon to be built:
My husband and I have been computing how many cinder blocks we'll need for the wall of the large outdoor enclosure and getting ready to order them tomorrow, along with those cement pavers Yvonne suggested be placed along the wall to discourage digging. My son-in-law is supposed to build the tortoise house with the heating apparatus--when he gets to it. (Argh) He's a professional carpenter and will be able to look at your photos and replicate them. Once that's done, Cholla can live outdoors in the space she needs.

A final question for you for now: The photos of your enclosures don't show any wire/frame top. So we're wondering what you use to ensure cats and other predators can't get into the enclosure from the top? We don't have cats of our own, but we have a couple of neighborhood cats who skulk through our backyard on a regular basis.

Night time won't be a problem b/c Cholla will be secured in her stout tortoise house. But what about daytime?
 

mylittlecholla

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Not to mention raccoons, red tail hawks, who, like the feral cats have no problem with our six foot tall perimeter fence.

I talked to my carpenter son in law today (again) and he promised to get going on the tortoise house tomorrow after looking at your pix, suggestions and instructions.

Either he or my husband can build a top for the enclosure, but they would like to know if and how you do it.
 
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