Male Russian -hibernation 2013

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lynnedit

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Last year my male Russian became very restless in the summer: he paced and would not eat. (See Joesmum's posts). I couldn't tempt him with anything. He had a negative fecal and otherwise looked very healthy (eyes, nose, etc.).
He was in his inside enclosure over the winter, slightly underweight, eating a little, here and there. However, in February he burrowed down and went right back after attempted soaks, etc.
We don't hibernate as much 'over here' as a rule, but Med tortoises do seem to have the inclination to slow down over winter. My other Russians slowed down and stopped eating much over the winter, but I wasn't worried because they were at a good weight going into the winter.
I decided to hibernate him. Even though 'Little Guy' was slightly underweight, I thought 'why not?', as I didn't want him losing more weight (being at room temp).
Hibernating outside in the PNW is hit or miss because of our rainy winters. So I set him up in a box of substrate, cooled him off first in the basement, and then into an unused small wine cooler he went. (our garage temps are not stable enough). He was in there at about 45f for 6 weeks (being 'our' first time, I was cautious), and lost only a few grams. (Jerry Fife's book talks about using a winer cooler, because you can raise and lower the temps fairly easily). He was checked and weighed weekly. The door was briefly opened every 1-2 days for air exchange.
He is now back in his outside area with access to heat and I believe that he is eating better than he ever has, and also more variety. He now grazes on his own, instead of only taking a few bites when the food is placed in front of him, as in the past. One of his favorites is chicory.
While he still paces some, he also basks and rests and is up to his highest weight at 430gm.
I am quite pleased with the outcome, hope it is helpful in some way to others. :tort:
 

JoesMum

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Interesting post Lynne. Your male was definitely not right last year. Hibernating is scary stuff and generally I would not recommend for an underweight tort. you played it safe and watched him like a hawk and kept it short. well done.


Let's hope we both have a more peaceful summer this year!
 

Jacqui

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G;ad it seemed to work some magic on him. Will be interesting to see if this continues all summer. *fingers crossed*
 

lynnedit

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Here is a picture of him eating weeds harvested from another area, after a warm up in the cold frame. Ambient temp 60f. Shell temp 69f.
(sorry, was in a hurry and didn't use photo bucket).

He often has a dandelion beard, lol

Male eating
 
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