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Stubborn AZ Desert Tortoise hibernation question/issue

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by FitzTheTortoise, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. FitzTheTortoise

    FitzTheTortoise New Member

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    Hello. We live in the Phoenix area and recently became the new owners of a DT (family member who was previous owner moved to Northern AZ). The general thought is the DT is about 15 years old, but no one really knows (he measures 11" approx from front to back of bottom of shell). He was brought to us in May of this year and has been quite active in our yard feeding and digging several "homes" in the garden. Over the last week he has started to slow down and not eating as much. At first he went to his home (the one he had with previous owners), but for the last few days he has been insisting on bedding down on our concrete basketball court behind the ac unit. Obviously, not a good place to hibernate. Then a storm rolled through this evening, rain and dropped temps. We went outside to see if he had once again decided to bed down by ac unit. He did. He was wet (soaked) from the rain. We brought him inside and placed him in a basket in a dark room.

    Clearly he has it in his mind that he wants to winter on the concrete, behind the ac unit. Our questions are:
    1. Should we just build him a new home and place it back there for him? Or,
    2. Should we hibernate him indoors this winter (in the garage)?
    or ????
    Leddagger16 likes this.
  2. Leddagger16

    Leddagger16 Member

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    Hello, and welcome to the forum to both you and your new tort. I ran into the same problem last night with my tortoises. I heard it pouring and ran outside to find out that their home is no longer waterproof. Personally, I would make him a new (waterproof) home with good bedding/ insulation and let him hibernate outside if your are sure he is healthy enough to do so. Of course this is just my personal opinion and some people will disagree. I have done so since my torts were 1 and they are now 5, and I have had no issues. I have a wood box that I hibernate them in on my back patio every year. The problem with hibernating them indoors or in a garage is that it doesn't always get/ stay cool enough for them to go into a full hibernation state. I hope this helps.
  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Because the winter here where I live is wetter than where my tortoise has evolved to live, I always put my tortoises away for hibernation (I don't allow them to choose their own spot).

    If the house that came with your tortoise can be water-proofed, and if it can keep the tortoise above freezing on cold nights, I would just put him in there every night and block the door so he can't come out. Then, when he hibernates, fill the house with dry leaves and block the door.

    If the house can't keep him dry and above freezing, then you'll have to box him up in shredded paper or dry leaves and place the box someplace where it will be above 32F but below 50F, and can be kept dry.
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