My tortoise isn't hibernating!

y_cc

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Hello, i am new to this forum and tortise keeping and I was really in need of some help?
To start off, I have a desert tortoise, a male, around 40 years old. We recently inherited him because his past owner was unable to keep him anymore. Well, its already one month into hibernation time and my tortoise has not gone to sleep. He still has quite the appetite, and sits in the sun every morning despite the temperature drops.
Im a little worried because he hasnt had the best diet, but nevertheless he still had native grasses and plants in his enclosure, and gained some weight. It can still be quite warm at some points of the day(we live in socal) so we even moved his little shelter to a shadier, cooler spot to encourage him to hibernate.

im not sure if i should be worried, or if i should simply leave him in his cooler corner. I was told that the tortoises “know when its time” but mine has proved otherwise this year. If anyone has any ideas on what i can do, your replies would be greatly appreciated.
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome.
My tort doesn't hibernate so I don't know much about it except that it is a gradual process during which they stop eating because if food is left in the stomach during hibernation it could rot and kill them.
Many people use fridges to hibernate torts to make sure the hibernation temps are stable so that the tort doesn't get disturbed by warmer days.
If you use the search facility there are lots of threads about it but I'll tag @Tom and @Yvonne who will be able to help you.
 

Tom

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This is a caresheet you may find useful for general care
Lyn, this hasn't really come up before, but that care sheet is full of the old wrong out-dated care info. I just wanted to mention this to you, and for anyone reading too.
 

y_cc

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Hi and welcome.
My tort doesn't hibernate so I don't know much about it except that it is a gradual process during which they stop eating because if food is left in the stomach during hibernation it could rot and kill them.
Many people use fridges to hibernate torts to make sure the hibernation temps are stable so that the tort doesn't get disturbed by warmer days.
If you use the search facility there are lots of threads about it but I'll tag @Tom and @Yvonne who will be able to help you.
Thank you so much!
 

Tom

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Hello, i am new to this forum and tortise keeping and I was really in need of some help?
To start off, I have a desert tortoise, a male, around 40 years old. We recently inherited him because his past owner was unable to keep him anymore. Well, its already one month into hibernation time and my tortoise has not gone to sleep. He still has quite the appetite, and sits in the sun every morning despite the temperature drops.
Im a little worried because he hasnt had the best diet, but nevertheless he still had native grasses and plants in his enclosure, and gained some weight. It can still be quite warm at some points of the day(we live in socal) so we even moved his little shelter to a shadier, cooler spot to encourage him to hibernate.

im not sure if i should be worried, or if i should simply leave him in his cooler corner. I was told that the tortoises “know when its time” but mine has proved otherwise this year. If anyone has any ideas on what i can do, your replies would be greatly appreciated.
We've had days in the 80s lately. I'm not surprised. I have not started the process for my brumating species either. Normally, I start their fasting in the beginning of November, but not with this fine weather this year.

It is not safe to allow them to brumate on their own here. The temperatures are generally too warm and too inconsistent. Out in the desert they would be deep underground where the temperature barely moves a single degree all winter. With occasional days in the 90s and occasional nights below freezing, out winter temps are not good for them above ground. Having a temperature controlled night box helps with this.

Here is the correct care info:

I'm sure you will have lots of questions. We welcome them here. :)
 

Lyn W

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Lyn, this hasn't really come up before, but that care sheet is full of the old wrong out-dated care info. I just wanted to mention this to you, and for anyone reading too.
Thanks Tom - I saw the 2020 date and thought it was recent.
I learn something every day!
 

y_cc

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We've had days in the 80s lately. I'm not surprised. I have not started the process for my brumating species either. Normally, I start their fasting in the beginning of November, but not with this fine weather this year.

It is not safe to allow them to brumate on their own here. The temperatures are generally too warm and too inconsistent. Out in the desert they would be deep underground where the temperature barely moves a single degree all winter. With occasional days in the 90s and occasional nights below freezing, out winter temps are not good for them above ground. Having a temperature controlled night box helps with this.

Here is the correct care info:

I'm sure you will have lots of questions. We welcome them here. :)
Thank you! So, i do have a few questions. And I also thank you for the care sheet, its been the most helpful one ive read! My temperatures havent been too bad, but are also still quite warm, as they range from 70s/80s in the day, and 50 degrees at night, but I will definitely check out those temperature controlled boxes if needed.
I was also wondering if I should still be letting my tortoise sit in the sun. He is not coming out of his hide, but is also not completely hibernating either, which is why i was torn on what i should do. I am not feeding him anymore either and only leaving water. Thanks again :D
 

Tom

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Thank you! So, i do have a few questions. And I also thank you for the care sheet, its been the most helpful one ive read! My temperatures havent been too bad, but are also still quite warm, as they range from 70s/80s in the day, and 50 degrees at night, but I will definitely check out those temperature controlled boxes if needed.
I was also wondering if I should still be letting my tortoise sit in the sun. He is not coming out of his hide, but is also not completely hibernating either, which is why i was torn on what i should do. I am not feeding him anymore either and only leaving water. Thanks again :D
This is why you need a temperature controlled box. So you can ease them into hibernation, then keep them cold all winter, then ease them back awake in spring. I usually wake mine in March or April, depending on the weather. Then we always have that last cold spell in May with daytime highs in the 50s. We always got my daughter swimming lesson in May to get her ready for summer. Every damn year she'd be in the pool and I'd be sitting pool side shivering. Having the insulated, thermostatically controlled box with a heat lamp on a timer allows me to provide the correct temps and conditions for my tortoises regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us.

Letting them do it on their own outside frequently results in their death. Some of them figure it out and manage to survive due to some factor of where they are and how they are housed, but many die this way, and moving them to a new area negates whatever kept them able to survive in the old area.
 

Yvonne G

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Lyn, this hasn't really come up before, but that care sheet is full of the old wrong out-dated care info. I just wanted to mention this to you, and for anyone reading too.
Don's care sheet is full of all kinds of helpful and informative and useful information that's keyed specifically towards our native desert tortoises. Far as I can tell, the lighting and type of enclosure are the only things in question, and neither is harmful, just different. He makes very good points about our native desert tortoises and it's a good read for desert tortoise keepers.
 

y_cc

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This is why you need a temperature controlled box. So you can ease them into hibernation, then keep them cold all winter, then ease them back awake in spring. I usually wake mine in March or April, depending on the weather. Then we always have that last cold spell in May with daytime highs in the 50s. We always got my daughter swimming lesson in May to get her ready for summer. Every damn year she'd be in the pool and I'd be sitting pool side shivering. Having the insulated, thermostatically controlled box with a heat lamp on a timer allows me to provide the correct temps and conditions for my tortoises regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us.

Letting them do it on their own outside frequently results in their death. Some of them figure it out and manage to survive due to some factor of where they are and how they are housed, but many die this way, and moving them to a new area negates whatever kept them able to survive in the old area.
Got it. I will definitely be looking into one then. I was just wondering one more thing though, did you use the mini radiant oil heater during the day and simply drop the temp at night? Or did you use something to cool the insulated box at all times? I was a little confused on that. Thats my last question, sorry for asking so many?, and thank you so much for all of your help!!
 

Tom

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Don's care sheet is full of all kinds of helpful and informative and useful information that's keyed specifically towards our native desert tortoises. Far as I can tell, the lighting and type of enclosure are the only things in question, and neither is harmful, just different. He makes very good points about our native desert tortoises and it's a good read for desert tortoise keepers.
Re-read it. Spot lamps, soil substrate, aquariums are unsuitable, hay for substrate, Reptisun T8 8.0 tubes (Did they ever make an 8.0?), MVBs... There is so much wrong info that it offsets the few good bits. The diet info is great. The point that desert torts don't "tolerate" the desert heat, but learn to escape it in the wild is wonderful, but if people follow the product and housing advice it will lead to problems.
 

stbarton

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Hello, i am new to this forum and tortise keeping and I was really in need of some help?
To start off, I have a desert tortoise, a male, around 40 years old. We recently inherited him because his past owner was unable to keep him anymore. Well, its already one month into hibernation time and my tortoise has not gone to sleep. He still has quite the appetite, and sits in the sun every morning despite the temperature drops.
Im a little worried because he hasnt had the best diet, but nevertheless he still had native grasses and plants in his enclosure, and gained some weight. It can still be quite warm at some points of the day(we live in socal) so we even moved his little shelter to a shadier, cooler spot to encourage him to hibernate.

im not sure if i should be worried, or if i should simply leave him in his cooler corner. I was told that the tortoises “know when its time” but mine has proved otherwise this year. If anyone has any ideas on what i can do, your replies would be greatly appreciated.
I have owned a California desert tortoise for over 10 years and I wait until he gives me clear signals it is time to hibernate. As the weather gets cooler, he comes out of his house, which has a heat lamp, less and less, He also will scratch at the floor of his house as he is trying to dig a hole, which is another signal. Some years he hibernated sooner, like the beginning of November and other years where it has been warmer, not until almost December. The important thing is let your tortoise tell you when it is time. Also make sure you start soaking him weekly so that his gut is empty when he is ready to hibernate.
 
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