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Phoenix Brumation for DT - need advice

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by CeciliaCornwall, Oct 30, 2019.

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  1. CeciliaCornwall

    CeciliaCornwall New Member

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    Hello!

    We are in Scottsdale (Phoenix suburb) and the temps are finally cooling down. The low yesterday was around 45 with a high of 76, and today the high is 70 with a low of 42. We brought both tortoises into the garage Monday night in separate boxes with orchid bark. I took them out again in the afternoon yesterday when it was sunny and 76, but neither seemed to do much. We put them back in their boxes last night and they’re still in there now.

    The temps are expected to go up starting Saturday with highs in the low 80s and lows in the low to mid 50s. I worry because I know both tortoises were still grazing last week, and the temps in the garage will get up in the 80s with the weather increase. Do we take them out during the day when the weather is nice or do we let them be?

    I have read the lovely thread about hibernation mentors for Russians, and we did consider the refrigerator method. We seem to still be a little uncertain if brumation has begun or if we’re just shielding them from the cold nights. If there are any takers, we’d love a DT brumation mentor! Any and all advice is appreciated!
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  2. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz Member

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    I'm watching this thread, this is going to be me in a year.
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  3. Dovey

    Dovey Member

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    I haven't put mine away yet. I live in New River, north of Phoenix, at about 2000' elevation. I am still probably a month from putting him away. Currently, he is interested in eating the dandylion seedlings that are coming up everywhere in his outdoor habitat, but I bring him in in the evening as temperatures fall. He gets a soak every other day, as he is still small, about 6 inches. I'll cut off the feeding two weeks before brumation begins, and plan to brumate him in a fridge. Our garage warms up too much each day and is full of packrats. Country living, right?

    This is my first year, too, so maybe "brumation buddies," rather than a mentor/protege relationship?
  4. Dovey

    Dovey Member

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    I will say his activity level inside has been pretty low comparatively. However, once he hits the sunlight, he is all over his habitat! There are rocks to climb on, so he's getting good exercise. And he's only eating just a wee little bit, a bite here and a bite there. Clearly, he is slowing down.
  5. CeciliaCornwall

    CeciliaCornwall New Member

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    One of ours seems to be slowing down quite a bit while the other is as wild as a tortoise can be. Really appreciate the insight! Would you mind updating when you do end up putting him away if you think of it?
  6. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz Member

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    I’m Phoenix, and when we hit that temp drop last week my little guy went off his schedule too. He’s in an open indoor enclosure and suddenly started going into his hide around 11-12 and sleep until the next morning at 6am! He also used to come out of his hide until 8 am, then would have lots of little naps during the day, and would be in his hide for the night at 3-4, pretty much like clockwork. He seems to be eating plenty and otherwise active when he is up.

    Anyway, I installed a CHE to try to raise the average day temp just a few degrees to an avg of 85, and added 30 mins on the light schedule to 13 hours a day. Tom recommended I give him a warm soak daily too to keep him moving even if I need to pull him out of a sleep. It’s only been 2 days but seems to be starting to have an effect, yEsterday he was up at least until around 1230 and today up until 2. Today he ate a ton and did a whole lot of walking out in the yard. So maybe it’s the beginning of a trend and I’m keep him well out or brumation. We’re not doing this this year BTW, it his first winter and I don’t know enough about his history prior to 6 was ago. He’s a rescue tort.
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  7. CeciliaCornwall

    CeciliaCornwall New Member

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    Great ideas! They both pooped once they were out today so that made me feel like they needed to be out. They both got a good soak too, and I think we’ll leave them out again now that the warmth seems to be back. Good luck keeping him up, it’ll be fun to have him around!
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  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    You are in the "in-between" limbo period. Its not quite consistently cold enough to hibernate, but not quite warm enough to eat and do normal activity. This is when I like to have an indoor set up for them with artificial heat and light. I can keep them warm enough to keep moving around and emptying their gut before I start their cool down and light duration shortening. This is how I maintain the time frames suggested in the other thread, and make sure they've stopped eating and that their gut is properly emptied.

    There in Phoenix you will have warm spells all winter long. It is not good for them to get above 50 when you are trying to hibernate them for the winter, and no need for them to drop below 40. Fluctuating, erratic temps are to be avoided. This is why a well monitored and properly set fridge is indispensable for hibernating tortoises in our warm climate.
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  9. CeciliaCornwall

    CeciliaCornwall New Member

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    Perfect, yes I was thinking that. We sometimes have a hot Christmas Day! We will be getting a fridge. Do yours sometimes go down at different times? I really think our younger one could go on for weeks where the older one seems to be enjoying relaxing. She hasn’t eaten in a week or so, but the younger keeps grazing on the grass
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  10. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Since I do a combination of indoors and out, mine go down when I prep them to go down. They stop eating because I stop feeding them and they have no access to food. They get less active as I cool them and shorten their days. Like wise, they wake up when I pull them out of the fridge and begin the waking up process. I usually hibernate young animals for 8-10 weeks their first couple of years. After that I go 12-16 weeks, depending on weather. I like to wake them when we will be having a stretch of nice warm sunny days.

    We were 96 degrees on Thanksgiving day two years ago. We frequently have January and December days in the 80s.
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  11. Thurn1

    Thurn1 New Member

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    I live in North Phoenix. My desert tortoise, Payton, stays out all year round and has been outside for 13 of his 15 years. Now that it’s a bit cooler, I offer him some kale or hibiscus flowers or a few Mazuri nuggets and he has access to all the grass he wants. Sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn’t. This last week, he hasn’t eaten at all.

    His winter den is a dog house with hay and straw on the bottom and that’s where he’s been mostly the last week or so. Just this past week he slept for 6 days and I saw him out and about yesterday for about a half hour. When it’s consistently in the 50’s at night, I put 2 blankets on top and around the dog house and a tarp on top of that.

    There’s only been a few nights in his 15 years when I’ve brought him into the garage and that’s only when it’s in the 30’s.

    Once it’s consistently in the low 70’s or 60’s during the day I won’t see him until April or May. I don’t move him around or soak him or anything. It seems that he just knows what to do and when to do it and he’s really healthy.

    For the first few years I would get a bit nervous during our winters, but he’s been consistent with his winter behavior and I don’t worry about him anymore.
  12. bioteach

    bioteach New Member 5 Year Member

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    Our DT, "Sunshine" has a mind of her own. We have a "dogaloo" with no floor. She uses that as a shelter and dug a nice burrow underneath. She has already "gone under". Last winter she came out once or twice and then went back in on her own. She has thrived just doing what is natural to her, so we do not bother her. There are several native bushes for her and some times she hangs out under them rather than going into her burrow.

    I spoke to the animal care people at the Desert Botanical Garden. They have two females (Penny and Poppy) who live in a large enclosure with shelters. The tortoises do what they want to do. They also have a very large fenced area for their male, "Blue". He also does what he wants to do and seems to be thriving as well.

    I hope that this is helpful.
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