Pre-hibernation weight loss

eb318

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Although I only got my rescue Hermanns this year, I was hoping to hibernate him, but now I'm concerned about his weight loss before he's even really started winding down. His weight peaked in October when he was eating well and soaking regularly, but it's tailed off over the last few weeks, even though he's still eating.

I'm still feeding him, because he's still showing interest in food and coming out to graze. I suppose he isn't eating as much though, and his activity levels have gone right down with the cold weather, again the last few weeks. He's an outdoor tortoise, in the UK, temps have been freezing overnight recently. I'm keeping his hot box at 35 C day / 15 C night.

As he's losing weight before I've even stopped feeding him, should I abort hibernation and just move him inside under heat/light over the winter?

For reference, when I got him in May this year, he was most likely dehydrated and underfed.

Sid's weight graph.jpg

Thanks all :)
 

RosemaryDW

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Some members are going to tell straight out not to hibernate a tortoise you’ve had for less than a year. Your call, just letting you know.

For future reference: my Russian peaks in August/early September (she’s a pig with plenty to eat) then starts losing weight as part of the slowdown at the end of September/early October (she’s also outside). It’s normal. When it starts to drop in noiceable amounts I know we’re getting close to hibernation time but with an outdoor tortoise you have to let them set the schedule, as they can get out and eat as they want.

I have turned down her night box to just about where yours is. We’re having really warm weather here during the day and it’s encouraging her to get out, just more slowly than usual. As soon as the daytime temps and sunshine drop a bit more, I’ll turn off her heat completely and that will encourage her to clock out.

I know it’s crazy making. Last year she went down very early, because we had a cloudy September and it was very stressful (on me, not her). But looking at her weight history, the peaking and the weight losing happened in a similar pattern, just earlier than usual.

Sigh. The mantra of our tortoise is “I do what I want!”
 

eb318

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Thanks for the comprehensive reply RosemaryDW, that's really helpful.

I know it is perhaps a risk to hibernate in his first year with me, but I can mitigate this by keeping the hibernation brief this year. I guess if he loses more weight in the next few weeks during wind down, I can still abort and keep him awake.

I just want to keep him safe as he does his thing! His Jackson ratio is borderline, for what it's worth.
 

eb318

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Just to update this thread, I decided to hibernate Sid, and he went into the fridge four weeks ago today.

His peak weight pre-hibernation was 1070g, although it was more steadily around 1000-1020g, and it dropped to 989g during wind down.

I've weighed him each week in the fridge, and he's dropped to 976g, so just over a 1% weight loss, but more like a 4% weight loss if I take his pre-hibernation weight as 1020g.

I wasn't planning to do a long hibernation, because we're both new to it, so I'm pretty happy with four weeks. Now I'm tempted to extend it to 6 weeks, and even 8 weeks. I don't want to push my luck though.

He seems happy enough at 4-8 degrees C, stirs a little when I take him out to weigh him, no pee or poo. It's actually quite creepy, a living thing being so stony cold...

Thanks for reading.
 

Mo & Bolt

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Hello I am also in uk and only inherited my torts in July . And both my torts have done the same as yours with their weight . I hibernated them late , just before Christmas . I haven't got mine out yet to check them . Must say I feel very anxious about doing it . Have a look at my posts under Mo & Bolt
 

eb318

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Hello I am also in uk and only inherited my torts in July . And both my torts have done the same as yours with their weight . I hibernated them late , just before Christmas . I haven't got mine out yet to check them . Must say I feel very anxious about doing it . Have a look at my posts under Mo & Bolt
Hello! I've read through your thread, lots of good advice in there for me too.

I was advised not to hibernate, given it was my first year with Sid, but he started winding himself down, so I reasoned that a brief hibernation, four weeks, would be a low risk middle ground.

He is an outside tortoise, and I have a insulated heated hotbox in his outdoor pen, which he uses daytime to bask (35 C), and nighttime to keep warm(ish, 10 C).

I'm hoping to get him back outside again fairly soon, although perhaps bringing him in overnight just to save on heating costs.

The weather up here has been pretty mild and dry so far this winter, very unlike last winter.
 
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