My first brumation experience

Camade

New Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Finland
Hi all, I thought it would be fun to update on my RT Tatlin a bit!

He's about 9 years old, lived on floors for most of his life, but while doing so always had a strong instinct to brumate. The previous owner said that he would walk to a corner in the house and stay there without eating for about a month each winter. So, I decided it would be safer to do that rest with an empty bowel and more ideal temperatures, and did our first ever brumation for about 6 weeks in an inslulated box in a fridge (even sheds would get too cold in here in the mid of winter). He fasted for two weeks, then I shortened the day and cooled the temps for about two weeks. After that, six weeks in the fridge, and now it's been three weeks from the end of his brumation and things are "back to normal".

I anticipated that he would come back pretty much the same as he was before, maybe even a bit more aggressive as he had very strong territorial behaviour already, and getting in the "spring mood" might not help that at all. However, he came back with a very different attitude: instead of being angry at us any time he sees me or my boyfriend, he seems curious and observes us but doesn't try to chace us off. He only gets aggressive if I'm doing something in his enclousure (like cleaning his poop), but that is understandable as that's his territory. He also eats so much better! I used to think that RT's eating like horses was a myth, but my picky eater has become an all consuming hunger machine who looks dissapointed when the food is finished. He event eats the healthy stuff nowadays, which was a struggle before the brumation.

Probably thanks to the better eating, his bowel movements have become a definitely daily occurance and he is out and about for much longer than before. Last summer, he would only be out from maybe 9 am to 4 pm and spend the rest of his time in his hide. Now he's up for about 12 hours a day and exploring his whole enclosure! He still hasen't gotten the point of the water dish, but I've seen him go stand next to it multiple times, staring in the water curiously. Maybe one day ;)

Before the brumation, I was very scared of my little guy rapidly losing weight, but as Tom here adviced, I didn't disturb his rest for weighing. But I'm reassured for next times by the fact, that his starting weight was 813 grams, and end weight 812 grams :D I am still going to the vet soon, I want to make sure with a professional that everything is good after the brumation. But overall, this was even more a success than I could have imagined a couple months ago, maybe we'll go for a bit longer brumation next year!
 

Jacqui

Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
39,793
Location (City and/or State)
A Land Far Away...
I applaud you for allowing him to brumate. That takes guts in my mind. So many people are saying not to do it and it's an unnecessary risk. I am old school and think mimicking nature is the right thing. So once more, a big round of clapping.
 

biochemnerd808

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2012
Messages
1,399
Location (City and/or State)
Central Arkansas (we moved!)
Good job! Having a safe brumation is so good for them. He will live longer, be more active during the awake season, and as you've noticed, be a better (and less picky) eater. :)

You can even safely have an 8-12 week brumation (some say 16 weeks) - in the wild, RTs often brumate that long... But I miss mine if they are in the fridge for longer than 12 weeks. :)

Here in the US I think people who brumate are in the minority. In most European countries, it's standard for RT, Greek, Hermanni. In Germany, people say it's 'torture' not to brumate a tortoise that is hardwired to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,283
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope it inspires more people to improve the lives of their tortoises.
 
Top