Three Toed Box Turtle Hibernation

MRCliplef

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I am wondering about hibernating in these turtles that live inside.
Do they have to hibernate if they are inside?
Do I need to put them in the fridge or should I just lower and eventually stop heating their cage and let them do their thing?
Amy info you have would be much appreciated 😊
 

Yvonne G

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It might be difficult to get them cool enough in the house. In my opinion, you should continue throughout the year with long summertime days (lights) and heat, and the turtles won't even know it's winter.
 

MRCliplef

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It might be difficult to get them cool enough in the house. In my opinion, you should continue throughout the year with long summertime days (lights) and heat, and the turtles won't even know it's winter.
So it's ok to not hibernate them?
 

mark1

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my opinion after watching the process of how hibernation comes about , to duplicate what i've seen on a turtle or tortoise kept indoors would be a hell of an undertaking ......... possibly it may not need duplicated , I've never attempted it , if I bring something inside for the winter it's because I don't want it to hibernate for some reason ……... myself if i can't duplicate natural i wouldn't attempt it .......... the stuff I've hibernated indoors went into hibernation outdoors naturally and was brought in … i agree with yvonne , they can go without being hibernated for sure ……. short term , being a couple years , i've done it many times ... long term i have no experience with how it may affect them ............
 

Relic

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I have a dim recollection of a paper I read many years ago (OK, decades...) that seemed to support the hypothesis that box turtles that did not have the opportunity to hibernate had a shorter lifespan than those that did. It was discussed that perhaps box turtles had a pre-programmed number of non-hibernation days to live, and skipping the hibernation period "used them up" faster. I have no idea what journal I read this article in or if it has since been refuted. Then again, I also have trouble remembering what I ate for breakfast these days, so there's that...
 

Pastel Tortie

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Don't put the boxie(s) in the fridge. Chances are, your indoor box turtles are going to start slowing down on their own as cooler weather approaches and shorter day lengths set in. You can let the temperature in that room drop to accommodate them sleeping in. That being said, box turtles kept in indoor enclosures during the winter can and do surprise their keepers. They can decide to be active for brief periods of time when you least expect it... then go back to sleep for weeks. Or not.

Granted, I'm in North Florida. My Gulf Coast box turtle does whatever she feels like (or not), activity-wise, during the winter, and I just have to deal with it. She shows up wanting to be fed, she gets food. I try to make sure the water in her box turtle pool isn't cold in case she wants a dip. If it's been a couple weeks since I have seen her, or at least signs of her moving about her enclosure, I dig her up, soak her in somewhat warm or lukewarm water, and check her over. If she feels like eating, she usually feels like defecating, too.

Plan on weighing everybody and recording those weights on a regular basis throughout the winter. It's a sanity saver. Until you have enough experience with your individual box turtles to know what they DO over the winter, you'll know they're basically okay as long as they aren't losing weight. There's always room for improvement, and you will be working on their care long term. However, their weights are probably the single biggest indicator if there's a serious health issue you have to act on before spring.
 

MRCliplef

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Don't put the boxie(s) in the fridge. Chances are, your indoor box turtles are going to start slowing down on their own as cooler weather approaches and shorter day lengths set in. You can let the temperature in that room drop to accommodate them sleeping in. That being said, box turtles kept in indoor enclosures during the winter can and do surprise their keepers. They can decide to be active for brief periods of time when you least expect it... then go back to sleep for weeks. Or not.

Granted, I'm in North Florida. My Gulf Coast box turtle does whatever she feels like (or not), activity-wise, during the winter, and I just have to deal with it. She shows up wanting to be fed, she gets food. I try to make sure the water in her box turtle pool isn't cold in case she wants a dip. If it's been a couple weeks since I have seen her, or at least signs of her moving about her enclosure, I dig her up, soak her in somewhat warm or lukewarm water, and check her over. If she feels like eating, she usually feels like defecating, too.

Plan on weighing everybody and recording those weights on a regular basis throughout the winter. It's a sanity saver. Until you have enough experience with your individual box turtles to know what they DO over the winter, you'll know they're basically okay as long as they aren't losing weight. There's always room for improvement, and you will be working on their care long term. However, their weights are probably the single biggest indicator if there's a serious health issue you have to act on before spring.
Thank you!
 

KBeam

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My ornate box turtle hibernates for 8 weeks regardless of lights and or heat. Even if she can’t see outside she seems to know when the days get longer/shorter. This year when she puts herself to bed, I’m going to let her hibernate in our insulated workshop. There is some evidence that females can get egg bound if they don’t hibernate.
 

m irwin

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I keep my Ornate's and Three Toed's outside 100% of the time. They hibernate as nature intended. I don't wake them up, weigh them, soak them, or bother them in anyway. I let them alone. The only thing I do is make sure they have plenty of leaf litter to burrow into. It seems to work fine. These turtles have evolved over millennia to hibernate without us, just let them alone. The only help I offered is when it periodically gets way cold like now in Texas - we were down to 4 degree's the other morning - I will put old sheets over the areas I think they are hidden. While this will cut down on the wind chill, not sure if it does anything for them or just helps me feel a little better.

I have read that female box turtles need a period of hibernation to then be able to produce eggs etc. the next year. I would think that if nature evolved them to hibernate, it's probably a good thing net net to let them. Cycle starts anew in the spring.

Of course you were asking about indoor hibernation and I can't comment on that - never done it.
 
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