Nighttime temps to keep Russian from hibernating

SinLA

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If I keep his nightbox in the mid-low 70s to high 60s, is that enough to keep my (don't really know but but at least 4-5 yo) Russian from hibernating, or would it be better to to make it warmer? Right now I have the thermostat set to 71 at the "cold" end by the door (and the thermostat bizarrely only goes off when it is 3 degrees below that) but wondering if I should make it warmer to *ensure* he doesn't hibernate?

Also if he ends up in the low 60s for 5-7 nights, could that trigger his desire to hibernate? I'm thinking about over thanksgiving week when I won't be here to put him inside his nightbox at night (but he's still protected from predators if he doesn't go in the box himself). My other option is to bring him into his "inside" box over thanksgiving week, which will be light/temp controlled, but only 2' x 6' so I'd rather him be oustide in his 10' x 4' locked enclosure...
 

Yvonne G

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The things that keep a russian tortoise from brumating are:

- - the length of the days
- - the rotation of the earth's axis which makes the sun's rays hit his yard at a different angle
- - longer, cooler nights

So I would bring him inside so you can have his UVB light directly overhead and on for 14 hours.

Nights in the 70's would be good and disturb him often. Don't allow him to park in the hide all day.
 

SinLA

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Thanks. So far he hasn't been hiding all day, he gets up around 9 or 10, and heads to bed around 4 or 5...

He seems pretty "happy", moreso than he was when I first got him. He toodles out into his "big" section on his own (tho still just outside the door, he's not walking around the whole section yet), and while he still likes to hide a lot, he is being more out in the open on his own...

he doesn't seem to be trying hunker down all day, yet anyway.

Should I wake him up earlier though? I usually soak him around 7:30am on the days I do it. that would certainly get him up...
 

wellington

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Yes I keep mine warmer, nothing below 70. Bright enclosure too. If he goes a couple days not wanting to wake and eat, I haul him out of his hiding spot and put him in his water dish or in front of his food. Never let them go more then a day or two of hiding away without making him get up and out of that spot.
 

SinLA

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He's outside, so gets lots of bright sunlight, so fortunately that isn't an issue. So far he wakes and eats without problem, but I'll look for changes, and increase the night box temp as well...
 

Tom

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He's outside, so gets lots of bright sunlight, so fortunately that isn't an issue. So far he wakes and eats without problem, but I'll look for changes, and increase the night box temp as well...
Yvonne hit the nail on the head, as she usually does. :)

Night temps are just ONE of several factors that tell them to hibernate. Low 60s or higher is plenty.

The other factors that are critical are length of day, quality of light, and day time temperatures.

For length of day, install a bright LED inside the night box and set it to come on at 6:00 am and go off at 7:30 pm. Get one with a color temp of around 5000-6000K. It will say this on the package.

We are having warm sunny days right now, but adding an incandescent heat lamp set to the same hours as the LED (You can plug them both into the same timer...) Will heat up the box during the day, and "should", in theory, make the tortoise think it is not winter and there is no need to stop eating and slumber. These same things can be done inside or outside. They do have to be kept from getting too cold at night, but that will do nothing if they don't also warm up to operating temps each day. When its 80-90 degrees and sunny, you really don't need a heat lamp. When the marine layer comes in and it's only warming into the 70s, then you need some heat lamp help.

I show how to do all this in this thread:

Questions are welcome.
 

SinLA

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OK, point taken in the incandescent bulb, BUT if I already have a thermometer/RHP set to keep the box at around 70 degrees at its coldest point (ie: the thermostat reader is near the door, so that's the coldest it will be), wont' that address the heat issue night AND day? so I think that isn't an issue, I just need the incandescent bulb to be on for longer hours... or am I not understanding further...
 

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OK, point taken in the incandescent bulb, BUT if I already have a thermometer/RHP set to keep the box at around 70 degrees at its coldest point (ie: the thermostat reader is near the door, so that's the coldest it will be), wont' that address the heat issue night AND day? so I think that isn't an issue, I just need the incandescent bulb to be on for longer hours... or am I not understanding further...
You are confused and I am simple... Russians like to sleep cooler, but in this case I would up the coolest to 75 and his day time 85 to 95 degrees for 14 hours.
 

SinLA

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Hmmm, how do I keep his daytime temps to that if he's outdoors? Do you mean keep the "night" box that hot so he has it if he wants it?
 

Tom

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OK, point taken in the incandescent bulb, BUT if I already have a thermometer/RHP set to keep the box at around 70 degrees at its coldest point (ie: the thermostat reader is near the door, so that's the coldest it will be), wont' that address the heat issue night AND day? so I think that isn't an issue, I just need the incandescent bulb to be on for longer hours... or am I not understanding further...
The current thermostat and RHP keep the box from dropping below the set point, 70 in this case, day and night. This does nothing to warm up the box above 70 on a cold morning or overcast cool fall day. The sole purpose of that system is to keep night temps from dropping too low for an animal that you don't want to brumate yet.

That is where the heat lamp on a timer and the LED strip comes in. A 65 watt incandescent bulb burning all day will heat up the whole box, and also give the tortoise a basking area to get up to operating temps. The bright lights will tell his little reptile brain that it isn't winter and it isn't cold. If its warm and sunny outside all the better, but this time of year it isn't getting warm until later in the morning, and the sun goes down earlier and earlier, so there is less and less of the warm part of the day. The heat lamp coming on and heating things up early and then staying on late mimics summer temps and heat/light patterns.
 

SinLA

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hmmmm, ok you've given me a lot to ponder. I wonder if its better if I just bring him into his inside box at night, which is bigger than his night box outside so can have more space for a basking area separate from the rest of the box. I don't think his night space is big enough for me to get a basking "area" per se, versus the whole thing being basically a single temp (maybe with 2-3 degrees variance)
 

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hmmmm, ok you've given me a lot to ponder. I wonder if its better if I just bring him into his inside box at night, which is bigger than his night box outside so can have more space for a basking area separate from the rest of the box. I don't think his night space is big enough for me to get a basking "area" per se, versus the whole thing being basically a single temp (maybe with 2-3 degrees variance)
If you don't want to brumate the tortoise, then an indoor 4x8 foot heated and well lit enclosure is the best way to go. You can still use the outdoor pen for daytime sunning and grazing all winter long during fair weather, and just bring the tortoise in at night. During inclement weather, the tortoise can stay inside under its bright warm lights all winter long.

If you want to do it outside full time, then the box in the care sheet thread is how to do it.
 

SinLA

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So if I DO decide that hibernating is a better way to go do I just wait until I see him start to slow down on his own and then stop with the food?
 

Tom

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So if I DO decide that hibernating is a better way to go do I just wait until I see him start to slow down on his own and then stop with the food?
You can read the whole thread if you want, but the relevant info is at post #19:

As always, questions are welcome.
 

SinLA

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Everything about that thread is terrifying. I’m going to stick with no hibernation this first year…
 

SinLA

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Yvonne hit the nail on the head, as she usually does. :)

Night temps are just ONE of several factors that tell them to hibernate. Low 60s or higher is plenty.

The other factors that are critical are length of day, quality of light, and day time temperatures.

For length of day, install a bright LED inside the night box and set it to come on at 6:00 am and go off at 7:30 pm. Get one with a color temp of around 5000-6000K. It will say this on the package.

We are having warm sunny days right now, but adding an incandescent heat lamp set to the same hours as the LED (You can plug them both into the same timer...) Will heat up the box during the day, and "should", in theory, make the tortoise think it is not winter and there is no need to stop eating and slumber. These same things can be done inside or outside. They do have to be kept from getting too cold at night, but that will do nothing if they don't also warm up to operating temps each day. When its 80-90 degrees and sunny, you really don't need a heat lamp. When the marine layer comes in and it's only warming into the 70s, then you need some heat lamp help.

I show how to do all this in this thread:

Questions are welcome.
@Tom question on this. In other threads you refer to an LED ”strip”. does it NEED to be a strip, or can it be a regular bulb? Also is this one of those things where I might get duped by buying the wrong kind of bulb because it’s a “watt equivalent”? like is this ok or something I can get at Lowes/Home Depot?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RGYP3KZ/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

as FYI I do have proper incandescent 60 and 100 watt bulbs I picked up out of state, but they are 2700k so i don’t think will work, right?

And assume I need two bulbs for inside, 6500 for light and then incandescent as well? Or if I still get him outside for a few hours of sun every day do I just need the one bulb?
 

Tom

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@Tom question on this. In other threads you refer to an LED ”strip”. does it NEED to be a strip, or can it be a regular bulb? Also is this one of those things where I might get duped by buying the wrong kind of bulb because it’s a “watt equivalent”? like is this ok or something I can get at Lowes/Home Depot?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RGYP3KZ/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

as FYI I do have proper incandescent 60 and 100 watt bulbs I picked up out of state, but they are 2700k so i don’t think will work, right?

And assume I need two bulbs for inside, 6500 for light and then incandescent as well? Or if I still get him outside for a few hours of sun every day do I just need the one bulb?
In the case of trying to add light, but not heat, we want the LED and the one you linked is good.

If heat is needed to increase ambient and give the tortoise a basking area, like on a cold clammy marine layer morning that we are having today, then the incandescent bulb in combination with the LED is what we need. If it is warm and sunny, then we don't need the incandescent, but the LED coming on early and staying on late tells the little tortoise's brain that "Hey! Long days, warm temps, bright light... NOT time to brumate yet..."

So whether you need the one bulb or two depends on the current weather and what you are trying to tell your tortoise about brumation.
 

SinLA

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I plan on bringing him inside where I have other bulbs already set up so I will just add this to mix. Thanks!
 

SinLA

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Ok last question (for now) @Tom . If I change my mind and I do decide to hibernate him because really there’s no good reason not to other than I’m terrified of the concept, but my life would be much easier especially as I travel over Thanksgiving…

This is my spare fridge, which is gigantic and not otherwise used (came with the house). if he were to go in here how frequently would I need to open the door to ensure he has oxygen.

And if I do decide to hibernate then I should not use the bulb we were just discussing, and use nature unless we have a warm spell… (plus advice in the big thread linked above). He is beginning to stop eating (two of the last three days which is super unusual for him) and I’m quite certain he hibernated in his previous home since they mostly just let him be in their garden…

I’m thinking it may be best now to hibernate him…
 

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Tom

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Ok last question (for now) @Tom . If I change my mind and I do decide to hibernate him because really there’s no good reason not to other than I’m terrified of the concept, but my life would be much easier especially as I travel over Thanksgiving…

This is my spare fridge, which is gigantic and not otherwise used (came with the house). if he were to go in here how frequently would I need to open the door to ensure he has oxygen.

And if I do decide to hibernate then I should not use the bulb we were just discussing, and use nature unless we have a warm spell… (plus advice in the big thread linked above). He is beginning to stop eating (two of the last three days which is super unusual for him) and I’m quite certain he hibernated in his previous home since they mostly just let him be in their garden…

I’m thinking it may be best now to hibernate him…
If you want to brumate him:
1. Keep him warm, well lit, and well fed through October. If the weather isn't cooperating, like today and tomorrow, keep him indoors, or use both bulbs outside.
2. The day after Halloween, don't feed him any more and don't allow access to weeds and leaves outside. Begin soaking in warm water every other day.
3. Every few days throughout November, adjust the thermostats and timers down. I keep night boxes for temperate species around 65 normally. By the end of November, I want it dropping into the high 40s. Lights are set to 12-13 hours normally. By the end of November I want them down to 6-8 hours a day.
4. Continue to use a basking lamp during this time if it is not warm and sunny. Your tortoise needs to be able to heat up each day in oder to clear the gut.
5. You didn't forget to soak every other day, did you?
6. During the last week of November, start messing with your fridge. Make sure it holds a steady temp where you want it. Adjust it up and down a few times and watch for it to stabilize. Set it around 45F.
7. After a nice cold November night, pop your tortoise into a plastic show box with some of its usual substrate, or yard dirt, and put the lid on it. Pop that into the 45 degree fridge and shut the door.
8. Wait a day or two and begin slowly turning the fridge thermostat down until it settles at 38-39 after a week or two.
9. I check on them frequently at first and then get complacent after a while. Fridges are not air tight. You don't need to open the door all the time for oxygen.
10. Start watching the weather in March and look for a warm spell lasting at least a week. Start gradually warming the fridge back up to 45-50 before the March warm spell hits.
11. At the start of your March warm spell, bring the tortoise out of the fridge and set it in its hide in the enclosure at room temp with no lights on. Let it warm up gradually. If the tortoise wakes and starts moving around, turn the basking lamp on for it and see if it wants to warm up a bit. I gradually warm things up over a few days until we are back at full operating temps and full light cycle. I offer drinking water on day one, but I generally don't soak until the tortoise is up and walking around again.
12. Depending on how active the tortoise is, I will start soaking every other day again for a couple of weeks, and I offer food again usually within a couple of days of waking, as long as I see basking and normal behavior.
 

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