Pre-brumation feeding

thatrebecca

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We've made the decision to support brumation for our two juvenile DTs. Prior to coming into our care this April they brumated every winter. I'm aware that many folks advise over-wintering your first year with a tort, but we've given this a lot of thought and spoken with their prior keeper, who wasn't able to keep them awake. So we'd like to help them do what they seem to want to do in the healthiest way possible.

My question is, they've still got pretty good appetites -- at what point do we stop offering food? Or do we change what we're offering? Right now it's mainly grasses, weeds and hibiscus. They do still get their favorite treat -- zucchini-- a couple times a week. (One of my torts is so water averse, it seems to help with his hydration. When we took him off it completely this summer, his urates got hard, even with twice weekly soaks).
 

Yvonne G

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Are the tortoises outside?

I just keep right on feeding my tortoises. When they realize the time is getting near to go to sleep, they dig in and stop eating on their own.
 

thatrebecca

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Yvonne G said:
Are the tortoises outside?

I just keep right on feeding my tortoises. When they realize the time is getting near to go to sleep, they dig in and stop eating on their own.

They're outside during the day and inside at night right now. They'll be brumating indoors.
 

TigsMom

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My DT's have slowed down on their eating just a little bit in the last two days (since the weather has finally just started to cool). We'll have roller coaster type temps for the next 4 weeks or so here. Once temps get into the 70's consistently is when they usually hibernate. Mine never come inside anymore, I let the climate here tell them when it's time to brumate and hibernate. I have started soaking them every couple of days. Funny, these two are from the same clutch and one loves his soaks and the other does not like them at all. I don't change their diet at all, they just start leaving more leftovers which I believe is there way of saying their active season is coming to a close. Typically there are a few days right before they hibernate that they come out of their burrows to try to warm up, but don't eat and go right back to their burrows. Our 10 Day forecast is lows of mid to high 60's with highs in the 90's.
 

thatrebecca

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TigsMom said:
My DT's have slowed down on their eating just a little bit in the last two days (since the weather has finally just started to cool). We'll have roller coaster type temps for the next 4 weeks or so here. Once temps get into the 70's consistently is when they usually hibernate. Mine never come inside anymore, I let the climate here tell them when it's time to brumate and hibernate. I have started soaking them every couple of days. Funny, these two are from the same clutch and one loves his soaks and the other does not like them at all. I don't change their diet at all, they just start leaving more leftovers which I believe is there way of saying their active season is coming to a close. Typically there are a few days right before they hibernate that they come out of their burrows to try to warm up, but don't eat and go right back to their burrows. Our 10 Day forecast is lows of mid to high 60's with highs in the 90's.

Thanks, TigsMom, this is super helpful. Especially the part about how they'll come out for a few days to warm up but not eat right before they go down permanently. Ours have been sleeping later in the morning since temps dropped here in LA, which is weird cause they're sleeping inside so I'd think their bodies wouldn't register the difference, but they do. I'm kind of fascinated by this whole process.
 

thatrebecca

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OK checking back in in this topic. Gomez and Morticia stopped eating earlier this week so we stopped putting food out. Today they're outside and quite active. Gomez has weeds all over his face so clearly he's been chomping down on what he can find in the yard. In Morticia's enclosure, the only edible greenery left is the hibiscus plants. I notice she's sitting next to her food dish. Should I offer something supplemental? Or has the process begun? Frankly I'm surprised they're so active. They'd been mopey all week, especially Morticia.
 

nate.mann

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thatrebecca said:
OK checking back in in this topic. Gomez and Morticia stopped eating earlier this week so we stopped putting food out. Today they're outside and quite active. Gomez has weeds all over his face so clearly he's been chomping down on what he can find in the yard. In Morticia's enclosure, the only edible greenery left is the hibiscus plants. I notice she's sitting next to her food dish. Should I offer something supplemental? Or has the process begun? Frankly I'm surprised they're so active. They'd been mopey all week, especially Morticia.

you can, but they may or may not take it. i wouldnt, but thats because i havent been feeding Esmerelda for just over a week now, the process has begun (she doesnt come out of her burrow very much, if at all). i think they'll be okay without it.


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thatrebecca

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Hmm, OK. Thing is, Morticia is acting like Esmerelda, staying in her hide most of the day, being pretty mopey. But Gomez has been super active. Today he circumnavigated the back yard several times, eating all the weeds in sight. And here he is trying to figure out how to get at all the delicious weeds he sees in the front yard. Poor guy just doesn't seem anywhere close to slowing down. Is this unusual? ImageUploadedByTortForum1381617826910448
 

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Tom

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We still have some pretty warm weather ahead. I would still offer food, but keep an eye on that 10 day forecast...

I typically let them go to November, but it does depend on the weather.
 

thatrebecca

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Tom said:
We still have some pretty warm weather ahead. I would still offer food, but keep an eye on that 10 day forecast...

I typically let them go to November, but it does depend on the weather.

Thanks Tom. I guess Gomez perked up cause the weather did. I got thrown by so many folks on the forum who are brumating saying they had stopped offering food. But one thing I am doing differently than others is bringing the torts in at night, cause I have bad memories of how the cool nights affected them in the spring. Since their prior owner said they brumated even when living indoors 24/7, I didn't think it would make much difference. He said they went down in Nov. too.
 

Candy

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Can I ask where you bromate them indoors? What will the temps be when they are indoors?
 

thatrebecca

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Candy said:
Can I ask where you bromate them indoors? What will the temps be when they are indoors?

Sure. I'll be brumating them in a non-working chest freezer in our back yard shed, aiming for temps bet 40-55. This is my first winter with them, so it's all new to me. In previous years they stayed in their keeper's laundry room. I don't know the exact temps, but I assume they were warmer than what's recommended, cause the laundry room is in the house. Nevertheless, they seem to have done fine.
 

ascott

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The men folk here are all adults. I stopped putting out any food offerings about a week ago...they can tug at some of the left over growth, which there is now very little....I know that they have consumed food all season so I have decided to not offer any food...however, I do still leave their water dishes full and I am doing once a week soaks for now and over the next couple to few weeks ..
 

Candy

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This is my first year to hibernate Houdini also. I have him staying in a doghouse that has a door outside on our carport. I am in Alhambra so I'm hoping that it will stay at certain temps so he can be in full hibernation and not partial. :( I just open up the doghouse everyday for him and if he wants food he can get it himself. :)[/i]
 

Tom

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You can open and close the chest freezer lid to do a little "manual" temperature management too. In other words if its too warm in there, like creeping toward the 60s, you can leave the top wide open in your shed during the night as long as temps will be above freezing, and then shut the lid during the following warm day. If the night will be below freezing you can leave the lid shut to keep them from getting too cold.
 

thatrebecca

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Ah, thanks for the advice on the freezer, Tom.

After not offering food for a few days, I put out some greens today after the torts' usual Sunday soak. Both ate like fiends. It's pretty overcast here today, so I was surprised, especially by Morticia, who seemed far along on her brumation schedule. I guess she's not as far along as I thought.
 
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