Stay outside during texas winter?

texastort17

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Hey, y’all. I have a russian tort that I’m keeping watch over for my dad until he has a yard to keep her in again. We’ve had her for around 12+ years and for about 5-6 years he’s kept her fully outside all year round. I’m not well versed in the ins and outs, but I’ve got a great outdoor set up for spring/summer/fall, I’m just a little worried about winter. I knows she’s done great every time she’s hibernated out there and seems tons happier than when she lived indoors full time but I just worry and wanted to know what other russian tort owners do for theirs.

‘Specially any fellow Texans that keep theirs outside! How do you do it?

Thanks in advance!
 
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biochemnerd808

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Living outside in a safe, predator proof, escape proof area is ideal. However, even Texas winters can get dangerously cold, and in some cases very wet.
Could you build an insulated, heated house or coldframe for the tortoise? If you have the ability to make sure the tortoise brumates inside there, with an Inkbird thermostat that controls a radiant panel or CHE that kicks in to prevent the soil around the tortoise from cooling below 37°F, that would be better. A flood-proof hibernation pit under a coldframe would be even better. :)
 

texastort17

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Texas
Living outside in a safe, predator proof, escape proof area is ideal. However, even Texas winters can get dangerously cold, and in some cases very wet.
Could you build an insulated, heated house or coldframe for the tortoise? If you have the ability to make sure the tortoise brumates inside there, with an Inkbird thermostat that controls a radiant panel or CHE that kicks in to prevent the soil around the tortoise from cooling below 37°F, that would be better. A flood-proof hibernation pit under a coldframe would be even better. :)
I’m willing to build whatever it is I need to to make it the best for her! I’m not sure what a cold frame is exactly, but we were planning to create roof for the enclosure that doesn’t allow any rain inside of it to avoid any of the cold and wet combo.
 

Tom

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Hey, y’all. I have a russian tort that I’m keeping watch over for my dad until he has a yard to keep her in again. We’ve had her for around 12+ years and for about 5-6 years he’s kept her fully outside all year round. I’m not well versed in the ins and outs, but I’ve got a great outdoor set up for spring/summer/fall, I’m just a little worried about winter. I knows she’s done great every time she’s hibernated out there and seems tons happier than when she lived indoors full time but I just worry and wanted to know what other russian tort owners do for theirs.

‘Specially any fellow Texans that keep theirs outside! How do you do it?

Thanks in advance!
In this thread, I explain how to do it:
 

biochemnerd808

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I’m willing to build whatever it is I need to to make it the best for her! I’m not sure what a cold frame is exactly, but we were planning to create roof for the enclosure that doesn’t allow any rain inside of it to avoid any of the cold and wet combo.
A coldframe is like a small greenhouse. If you get 16mm thick hollow core greenhouse panels, it will be relatively energy efficient.
 

SpdTrtl

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Im in South Texas. I keep mine outdoors unless it gets below 40 or if I expect flooding. If it's only cold at night, I bring him in for the evening and put him back out as soon as the sun comes up. I have a nice sized indoor habitat that I bought online that works well. My tort hates being indoors so I try to keep him outdoors as much as possible.
 

Yvonne G

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If you get much rain I wouldn't do it.
 

HoosierTort

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Mine overwinter outside in their cold frames right here in Indiana ever year. Out temps drop well below zero and stay there for a week or two at a time. We also have lots of snow and freak rain storms in winter.
It is to the benefit of my tortoises that I brumate outside and let them go through a full cycle. I’ve seen Russian torts in the wild after a long freezing winter in Afghanistan. My winters are weak in comparison.
If properly setup, not only will they survive a subzero winter, they will thrive.
 

biochemnerd808

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Mine overwinter outside in their cold frames right here in Indiana ever year. Out temps drop well below zero and stay there for a week or two at a time. We also have lots of snow and freak rain storms in winter.
It is to the benefit of my tortoises that I brumate outside and let them go through a full cycle. I’ve seen Russian torts in the wild after a long freezing winter in Afghanistan. My winters are weak in comparison.
If properly setup, not only will they survive a subzero winter, they will thrive.
I agree that if the climate and equipment are suitable, a natural brumation is great. Except if there is a lot of rain. I would not recommend natural brumation everywhere in the US: For example, if it is even temporarily too warm during the winter, the tortoise could wake up too early, or burn too many calories because it doesn't fully settle down. Here in central AR we can have anything from 80°F to -2°F in December: the tortoise could come up to bask, and then freeze solid that night. Plus, in areas it rains so much it could be very dangerous for the tortoise out in a coldframe. Wet+cold=bad. Dry+cold=OK (for brumating).
That said, in Indiana, I bet it does work well.
 
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Tom

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I agree with Katie. Doing it outside is a gamble. A gamble with your tortoise's life. Why risk it? Its 100% safe and reliable in indoor controlled conditions.
 

mark1

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as far as a dry hibernacula , high ground and a waterproof cover accomplishes that ...... as far as activity during hibernation , from what i've seen that is a normal occurence ....... any reptile from an area with seasons has evolved to handle temperature fluctuations , even extreme fluctuations ... they are all accustomed to warm and cold spells , dessert tortoises and gopher tortoises can and do emerge during warm spells in winter ...... my box turtles came out a few days ago it was 70 degrees , this morning it was 30 , never got above 45 and they weren't out today , this behavior will continue here for another month , next week we are in the 30's all week ....... water hibernating turtles experience even more extreme temperature fluctuations .... they can emerge on a 75 degree sunny march day , sit in the sun all day and need to re-enter 40-50 degree water that night to keep from freezing ........ i'm not sure , but seems to me it might be one of the reasons what they do is not called hibernation .....


these are natural ground temps for the native eastern box turtles in march
1648934238586.png
 

TaylorTortoise

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Mine overwinter outside in their cold frames right here in Indiana ever year. Out temps drop well below zero and stay there for a week or two at a time. We also have lots of snow and freak rain storms in winter.
It is to the benefit of my tortoises that I brumate outside and let them go through a full cycle. I’ve seen Russian torts in the wild after a long freezing winter in Afghanistan. My winters are weak in comparison.
If properly setup, not only will they survive a subzero winter, they will thrive.
What do the cold frames look like?
 
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