Non-hibernating Tortoise

suzieq1121

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I am in need of advice. I have a 6 year old female Marginated tortoise. We have had her since she was a hatchling. She has hibernated (very short periods of 4-6 weeks each year) the last 2-3 years. She doesn't seem to want to hibernate this year. I've read lots of information on hibernation, some of it conflicting. I am wondering if we should force her to hibernate, although I don't like this idea and don't know whether it is safe or necessary. She is slowing down due to the lack of sunlight in the backyard and shorter days but doesn't want to fully hibernate on her own. I've stopped feeding her for a week or so hoping she would be cleaned out and ready to hibernate. I broke down and have fed her a little here and there. She does have access to all her regular grasses and weeds but I don't think she is eating them much either. She has a cave-like burrow outside which we keep her in at night (locked in so she's protected from critters). In the morning, I open it up and she can come out. I have taken to not opening it as early and have even gone three days without opening it (peeking in to check her), hoping the darkness of her burrow would get her to hibernate. My question is, should I keep her in the burrow longer hoping she will eventually hibernate? I feel bad doing that to her. She is a very healthy tortoise, has eaten well all year, has never been sick or injured. Is she ok just plugging along all year without the hibernation? I've read that it is bad for a tortoise not to hibernate repeatedly. This would be her first time not hibernating since she was old enough for it.


BTW, we live in So. California inland where it can get warm during the days. Lately it has been cold and frosty in the mornings though. Not sure if weather is playing a part in it this year.
 

ascott

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Is her outdoor house under ground/insulated to make sure that the temps don't fall below 40-45? and is that house 100% free from getting wet?
 

Yvonne G

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Brumation is a mechanism for keeping a cold blooded animal alive during long periods of cold/sunless weather. They know when to stop eating and when to stay in the house. If she's still coming out to eat and sunbathe, I'd just let her. And if there's food/grazing in the pen, I wouldn't offer any additional food. Have you ever had her checked for parasites? Has she had a good soak?
 

suzieq1121

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ascott said:
Is her outdoor house under ground/insulated to make sure that the temps don't fall below 40-45? and is that house 100% free from getting wet?

It's above ground with leaves in it. It gets between 40-50 most nights, sometimes it does get to freezing. It doesn't get wet.

In the past once she seemed to be hibernating, I put her in a large plastic tub with a lid with carpet on the bottom and shredded newspaper on top. I would then cover that whole thing with a blanket, leaving a little space for air. This container would sit outside on our deck. I have brought it into the house but she would wake out of hibernation because the house is too warm.

Any suggestions? Should I put her into the tub now and check on her periodically to see if she hibernates?
 

ascott

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sometimes it does get to freezing

This would worry me....I mean, I would choose to have a tort hit the high end of temps vs freezing temps, because the tort can easily survive a little of the higher end of temp grade than a few hours of freezing temps....

I would do the in the box and if you can place the box in a box and place it in your garage a little off of the floor (like on blocks or on some type of riser that is a couple inches off of the floor) in a place that does not freeze---that would be my choice and what I would do...now, understand---this is what I would do and you have a better feel for the geographic set you are in and what would achieve a better balance of temp so you don't have big dips and spikes....
 

suzieq1121

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ascott said:
sometimes it does get to freezing

This would worry me....I mean, I would choose to have a tort hit the high end of temps vs freezing temps, because the tort can easily survive a little of the higher end of temp grade than a few hours of freezing temps....

I would do the in the box and if you can place the box in a box and place it in your garage a little off of the floor (like on blocks or on some type of riser that is a couple inches off of the floor) in a place that does not freeze---that would be my choice and what I would do...now, understand---this is what I would do and you have a better feel for the geographic set you are in and what would achieve a better balance of temp so you don't have big dips and spikes....

Good idea. I could easily do that and our garage doesn't get too cold. Probably too hot at times but I could move the box to a cooler spot during the day if that happens. I have a coworker that has her tort in a box in the garage. I've done it before as well when our house got too hot (when I had her in a box in the computer room).

Do you think I should do it now while she is still active? Yesterday she was all over the backyard, lying in the sun and munching on weeds and grasses. I need to make sure she is cleaned out, right?

Thanks for being so helpful. I love this forum. I emailed my local T&T society a week ago and have yet to hear back. Sort of disappointed in their lack of response.

Suzie
 

ascott

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Do you think I should do it now while she is still active? Yesterday she was all over the backyard, lying in the sun and munching on weeds and grasses. I need to make sure she is cleaned out, right?

I would avoid plopping her back in her box until you get cool weather again....then give it a try...if she has only been nibbling on strictly items she has found in the yard then likely she has not consumed a regular feeding amount? I would offer her a soak each day and kinda follow her lead....it is really hard for me to tell you exactly what to do because you are there in person to feel and see your weather and her behavior....you know what I mean?
 

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